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YMMV / How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

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The 2018 film and the 2000 video game have their own pages.

The original book:


The 1966 animated special:

  • Adaptation Displacement: While the special hasn't completely displaced the book per se, we challenge anyone to read the book to themself and not hear Boris Karloff narrarating it. Also, the Grinch's green coloring was an invention of the special — a somewhat necessary one, as Seuss' original illustrations were in black and white with red accents (at the time the book was published, color printing was still rather limited). To further drive the point home regarding how tied to the role Boris Karloff is, there exist two record productions of the story, one narrated by Zero Mostel (made before the cartoon special), and one by Walter Matthau (made after the special). Both performances sound particularly jarring to hear.
    • It must also be mentioned that both feature-film adaptations made sure to include "Welcome Christmas" and "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch," songs that were obviously written for the TV special.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Dr. Seuss was initially hesitant about making this special, remembering how badly his attempt to venture into film turned out and feared television would produce similar results. Instead, it became one of the most acclaimed Christmas Specials of all time.
  • Awesome Music: "The Villain Sucks" Song is a classic, and is easily the most famous part of the special.
  • Cant Unhear It: Again, Boris Karloff is the voice of the Grinch, to which every successor in the role is compared.
  • First Installment Wins: Far more universally beloved than any of the adaptations that followed.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The famous "The Villain Sucks" Song is commonly rewritten to be about a hated character or real life person (usually a politician).
    • The Grinch's grin as he gets the "wonderful awful idea" of stealing Christmas.
  • Misaimed Fandom: It's become sort of a meme among social media users to criticize the famous song for being unbelievably harsh on the titular character, even though it's implied that the Grinch is a Card-Carrying Villain who probably enjoys all the insults the song throws at him.note 
  • Nightmare Fuel
    • The Grinch in general has a penchant for making various Nightmare Faces, most famously the Slasher Smile that just keeps going and going and going when he gets his "wonderful awful idea."
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    • There's also the slow, sinister grin he makes at the sleeping kids before he steals their candy canes. Totally not a euphemism for anything. *cough* (it was even edited out of broadcasts for a time).
    • The Grinch's unsettling Count Orlok-esque wall shadow which all but consumes Cindy Lou Who as he's lying to her.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Maddox is thoroughly convinced the Whos are the worst neighbors in the multiverse and that the Grinch should be a sympathetic character for putting up with it for 53 years straight. Seuss himself actually said he sympathized a lot with the Grinch, having to deal with an increasingly merchandise-heavy Christmas season from his hilltop home in La Jolla.
  • Signature Scene: The Grinch making his Slasher Smile when he has a "wonderful awful idea".

The 2000 movie:

  • Accidental Nightmare Fuel: The amounts of Uncanny Valley in the film have unsettled many of the younger viewers over the years.
  • Adaptation Displacement: In some countries where the book and the animated short aren't well-known and/or were never published, many viewers were introduced to the Grinch story by this movie and refer to it as "the original" when comparing it to the 2018 animated film.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The Grinch's backstory provides one: is he just naturally bad from birth, or did he become that way from how he was treated by many of the Whos?
    • Due to her Adaptational Intelligence, the scene where Santa Grinch tries to fool Cindy Lou Who takes on a different tone from the original. When she leaves with a pointed message telling "Santa" not to forget the Grinch, was it just her being kind, or was she Obfuscating Stupidity and trying to appeal to the Grinch's good side?
  • Awesome Music
    • Although some would say it's more of a Award-Baiting Guilty Pleasure, "Christmas, Why Can't I Find You?" and its full-length country-pop version "Where Are You Christmas?" is a touching song that has become somewhat of a modern Christmas staple.
    • For the instrumental score, you can never, ever go wrong with James Horner.
  • Broken Base: While obviously not as hated as The Cat in the Hat, people do argue whether the film is worthwhile or not. Some people think it's So Okay, It's Average, while others see it as either bad or a good film overall.
  • Cant Unhear It: For millennials, Jim Carrey's voice is the Grinch in their minds.
  • Catharsis Factor: After seeing the Grinch be ruthlessly tormented by the Whos, him thrashing the entire festival — including his revenge on Maywho with the razor — is nothing short of rewarding. His "The Reason You Suck" Speech towards the Whos' selfishness and hypocrisy also deserves a mention.
  • Critical Backlash: From the half of the audience who liked it. It's nowhere near among the greatest Christmas films of all time, and it may have been stretched out too long for some people, but to others, it's not a bad film adaptation of the book and mostly maintains the spirit of it. And not to mention, it's far better than the following film based on a Dr. Seuss book. It helps that Ron Howard defended the film as more variations on a theme than a straight adaptation.
  • Critical Dissonance:
    • This was the #1 film for four weeks after its release, and became the highest grossing film of 2000 domestically ($260 million) and remains the highest-grossing Christmas movie since Home Alone. Critical response was still sharply divided (52% on Rotten Tomatoes and 46/100 on Metacritic). There are those who like the film, and those who consider it an abomination. This stems to the audience as well: 55% on Rotten Tomatoes, 6.5 on Metacritic, and 6.1 on IMDB.
    • It earned three Academy Award nominations, winning one for Best Makeup, which was very well deserved considering what the actors had to go through. Especially poor Jim Carrey who had to act in a stuffy yak-furred suit for a whopping 92 days, which took 2 and a half hours to apply and the same amount of time to remove every day. Jim Carrey got nominated for Best Actor at the Golden Globes for it.
    • On the flip side, the film also got two nominations at the 2000 Razzies for Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Screenplay, but won neither.
  • Cult Classic: Since the film's release and especially after The Cat in the Hat and the 2018 cartoon came out, many people think of this film as a live-action Christmas classic. Helps due to Jim Carrey's performance and the effective makeup and messages. Quoting this movie is a time-honored social media tradition for those who enjoyed it as children.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: A common criticism is that the Whos are just too unlikable, being bullies, overly competitive, overly commercial, and just as ignorant to the true meaning of Christmas as the Grinch. The result is a film far more cynical the original book, which makes it much harder to care what happens.
  • Designated Villain: Why exactly is the audience supposed to root against the Grinch when he has every reason to hate the Whos? He does become more of a legitimate villain in the third act (the one actually adapted from the book) mainly because the Whos, while still misguided, do accept him back during the Whobilation and the Grinch tries to steal Christmas from all of them regardless based on only the actions of one of them (the mayor). Still, by that point, it's pretty hard to blame him, though this may have been the movie's intention; it's definitely Played for Laughs at some points, especially the scene where one of the goals on his "mean-hearted" daily schedule is solving world hunger (and not telling anyone).
  • Fetish Retardant: Martha's provocative outfits and flirtatious voice were clearly intended as a Christmas present for all the dads in the audience, but combining Christine Baranski's sex appeal with Seussian costume designs and Who makeup just forces you to acknowledge that a hypersexual character exists in a Dr. Seuss story, and the implications alone just leaves too many people disgusted to find her sexy.
  • First Installment Wins: Compared to The Cat in the Hat, it had more effort to be suitable for all ages and didn't lose focus. It's still been met with plenty of criticisms, but even it's harshest critics will agree it was better than the adaptation that followed.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Despite some poor moments, the film manages to be pretty good for the most part, keeping the spirit of the original story. The infamous The Cat in the Hat film that followed it, however, forgot all of the stuff that worked and instead focused on amplifying everything about The Grinch movie that was bad. The generous examples of Parental Bonus and demographically inappropriate humour that ultimately destroyed Cat in the Hat were counterbalanced in The Grinch with things that were true to the original story and mostly-justifiable instances of Adaptation Expansion, and the Uncanny Valley look of the Whos ultimately had nothing of Thing 1 and Thing 2, similarly to how Jim Carrey as the Grinch worked better than Mike Myers as the Cat.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: After Jeffrey Tambor's sexual harassment allegations in the mid-2010s, Mayor Augustus' rather creepy fixation on Martha feels a lot grosser.
  • Genius Bonus: In Horton Hears a Who!, first published three years before the original Grinch book, Whoville is established as being inside a dust speck. In this movie, it's inside a snowflake, but this is consistent since snowflakes form around dust specks in real life; being inside an ice crystal is just what makes it winter there.
  • Ham and Cheese: Jim Carrey providing his trademark ham to the movie's cheese. While the critics provide the whine.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Jerkass Woobie: The Grinch due to his new backstory. He was a borderline sociopath as a kid until one Christmas he put all his heart into embracing the holiday and being good... and wound up traumatized and an outcast in the end. Then at the Whobilation, he starts getting into the holiday again... until the Mayor yanks his chain and reinforces his previous cynical view of it.
  • Just Here for Godzilla
    • Jim Carrey constantly Chewing the Scenery is one of the most remembered things about this movie. Even the film's critics (or even non-fans of Carrey) have confessed that, regardless of their thoughts on his performance, his casting as the Grinch was perfect.
    • Fans of retro-Vaudvillain performer Bill Irwin mainly watch this movie to see his performance as Lou Who, as it's one of his only starring roles in a major motion picture.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Many people have commented on how Mayor Maywho bears a rather disturbing resemblance to former US presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
    • "This is not pudding."
    • "BRILLIANT!"
    • The entire scene of the Grinch reading aloud his schedule in order to justify not leaving his lair briefly reached memetic status in 2020 as various countries began enforcing national lockdowns.
  • Misaimed Marketing: While the film is against consumerism, there were video game tie-ins, a board game, toys and other merchandise in Christmas 2000.
  • Misblamed: Detractors of the film's jokes aimed at adults tend to blame Jim Carrey, who is notorious for ad-libbing and adult humor, for it. It was actually Executive Meddling by the studio that was responsible for the jokes. Carrey actually wanted to keep the film family friendly like its source material.
  • Moe:
    • Cindy Lou Who.
    • Young Martha May, ignoring that suggestive lollipop scene.
  • Narm:
    • Even people who love Jim Carrey's trademark hamminess can agree that his continuing to ham it up during the more emotional scenes (such as when the Grinch's heart grows three sizes) is too inappropriate to be emotional or funny, and that the movie would have been significantly better if he'd toned it down when necessary.
    • The narrator being unaware of why the Grinch hates Christmas even though they very clearly showed why in the previous scene.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The baby grinch is onscreen for maybe two minutes.
  • Retroactive Recognition
  • Rooting for the Empire: The Grinch was already subject to this sometimes, but this movie increased it by fleshing out his backstory and giving him a Freudian Excuse, along with making the Whos all seem rather shallow and greedy and just plain stupid by comparison.
  • Special Effects Failure: The film boasts some pretty impressive practical effects and outright stunning makeup, enough to earn it a Best Visual Effects Oscar, and still look impressive today. The CGI and green screen effects, however, are firmly of their time, especially the CGI Santa in the Grinch's binoculars or the ending scene of him skiing down Mt. Crumpit (it's also very easy to see when the scene cuts from green screen to a live set).
  • Squick
    • At one point, the Grinch gleefully tricks the sleeping mayor into rimming Max. No, really.
    • How about the fact that the Grinch really does have termites in his smile?
  • Strangled by the Red String: Appropriate for a character who's first scene has her hanging up lights while wearing a provocative outfit, Martha is a textbook "sexy lamp" character who really only exists to give the Grinch and the Mayor something else to fight over. Her relationship to either man has absolutely no bearing on the plot and cutting her entirely wouldn't change it in the slightest.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • The Grinch's anti-Christmas rant in Whoville is not entirely without merit, given how materialistic and mean the Whos have been treating him over the years, and how they seem to be all too willing to Yank the Dog's Chain. Even Cindy Lou Who echoes his complaints about the Whos placing too much emphasis on gifts; it's just that the Grinch's complaints feel far more justified, given his backstory treating him like a Jerkass Woobie. The Grinch's plan would have succeeded if it hadn't been for Lou Lou Who standing up for his daughter and reminding the people that they still have each other on Christmas.
    • Mayor Augustus' insistence than the Grinch not be allowed to attend the Christmas festivities is framed as his personal vendetta against him, but he has good reason to keep him away from the town. Even if they didn't know it, earlier in the film we saw the Grinch go around town vandalizing personal property, giving weapons to kids, messing up people's mail deliveries, and generally delighting in terrorizing the Whos. True, Augustus is directly responsible for sparking the Grinch's Christmas Eve rampage, but the Grinch was a powder keg of rage and destruction that was just waiting to go off, and the mayor is in full rights to be concerned about inviting a volatile troublemaker like him to the centennial of their biggest celebration of the year.
  • Ugly Cute: Baby Grinch!
  • Uncanny Valley: The Whos are somewhat... off looking, thanks to their make-up and snout-like noses. The Grinch too, but in his case this was probably intentional. Especially as a baby.
    • It's almost like the filmmakers were aware how creepy the Whos looked given the most prominent one, Cindy Lou Who actually has an upper lip, unlike the others. It makes it look like they realized they couldn't have their child lead look as horrifying as everyone else.
  • Values Dissonance
    • Young Martha's flirtatiousness, especially her first shot where she's dreamily licking a lollypop, was pushing the envelope but not considered too offensive for the movie-going public of 2000, who were used to seeing much more explicit jailbait imagery in Britney Spears videos. In the social media age, when it's become much easier for people to point to the evidence of how harmful even the most gently implied sexualization of minors can be to young people, it feels much more inappropriate.
    • Adult!Martha isn't much better. Her many, many provocative outfits and lustful attitude was already considered Fetish Retardant when the film was first released (her first scene alone has her rapid-firing from a canon that causes her to jiggle around a lot while wearing a stripperiffic Santa-themed hoop skirt and bustier), but like the above, having such blatant female objectification and explicit sexuality in a family movie would greatly upset people concerned with the effect of both on children.
    • The Grinch calling Max a "sicko" for assuming that his "kilt" (read: tablecloth worn around his waist) is a dress. Nowadays, just assuming that isn't seen as sick at all.
  • Values Resonance: With the increased consumerism regarding Christmas since 2000, the film's message about gifts really aged well.
  • Vindicated by History: While nobody is about to call this film a masterpiece, opinions of it have softened into more of a Guilty Pleasure, especially when held up next to the far-more unpopular adaptation of The Cat in the Hat, which cranked the inappropriate jokes Up to Eleven and had much poorer casting choices (say what you will about Jim Carrey, but he's a much better choice for The Grinch than Mike Myers was for The Cat). In the wake of the animated version from 2018, which was criticized for trying so hard to be inoffensive that it wound up being insufferably dull, others have given this one credit for at least doing a distinct variation on it's source material, whether or not it always worked.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: One thing the viewers can unanimously agree on with this movie is how spot on the make-up for the Grinch is. They managed to make Jim Carrey look exactly like the Grinch without the slightest restriction to his wide array of facial expressions, a feat that could not have been easy; to give an idea of how much free range Carrey's facial muscles had, his version of the Grinch's iconic Evil Grin is entirely him being able to pull that off on command. No wonder this film won the Academy Award for Best Makeup in 2000.
  • The Woobie: Cindy. She's completely missing out on what Christmas truly is and nobody listens to her at all. It gets to the point that, when she cheers up the Grinch by sending him to the Cheermister and Mayor May-Who's cruel joke on the Grinch causes the Grinch to destroy the entire place, she is blamed instead of May-Who.
    Cindy: (heartbroken) I just wanted everyone to be together for Christmas.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: The Whos; their doglike facial features and lack of visible lips makes for copious amounts of Uncanny Valley, especially next to the few characters who look like normal humans.


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