Christmas Classics: ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’



Graphic by Saaraa Sunesara

‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ (2000) features Jim Carrey and gives insight into Dr. Seuss’ character of The Grinch.

Inside of a snowflake, like the one on your sleeve, there happened a story you must see to believe.

That story is the tale of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Originally a storybook with the same title by Dr. Seuss, this classic narrative is a staple of the American Christmas mythos. It encapsulates all the childhood whimsy, warm togetherness, and good tidings of Christmas, and teaches an important lesson along the way: treat those different than yourself with kindness and compassion.

The live action movie adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ work only improves on this classic story. With Jim Carrey, an actor widely known for his wacky nature, starring as the titular character of the Grinch, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is filled to the brim with quick-witted humor and mischief, elements which are not widely seen in the original novel.

This career-defining film for Jim Carrey takes audiences through the redemption arc of the miserly and reclusive Grinch, a creature who lives on the peak above the jolly town of Whoville, Mount Crumpit. The Grinch despises the celebration, noise, and happiness that the Whos of Whoville exude during their favorite time of year — Christmas time. Unlike in the book, however, audiences are given insight into the Grinch’s hatred of Christmas in this movie: the ruthless bullying he suffered as a child for being different, a common theme in storytelling but nonetheless one that makes the Grinch a more sympathetic character.

An embarrassing experience during the Holiday Cheermeister ceremony in the town of Whoville, an additional sequence added for the film that provides deeper insight into the Grinch’s character, combined with his childhood trauma finally pushes the Grinch to concoct his sinister plan of stealing the gifts and decorations from the Whos of Whoville before they awake on Christmas morning. His plan, thanks to the help of his begrudging sidekick and dog Max, turns out to be a success.

In the end, however, thanks to Cindy Lou Who, the little Who girl who stars as the co-main character, the Grinch discovers that Christmas will continue no matter how many gifts or decorations he steals. This is because the true meaning of Christmas cannot be found in a store. The true meaning of Christmas is just a little bit more.

That meaning, of course, is something intangible, something far exceeding presents and fanfare. The realization that Christmas is about caring, love, family, and kindness, not superficial things, is why the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes in the span of a minute, and it is this yuletide miracle that allows the once ornery Grinch to rejoin Who society once more.

Critics might argue that the extra scenes in the movie that were not originally in Dr. Seuss’ book and the general Hollywood flashiness detract from the message of the story, but I would argue the opposite. Knowing the Grinch’s backstory allows for the Grinch to become a more likeable character, one that the average person might even relate with to some degree. This is what makes the Christmas-time message even more powerful. And the flashiness and humor is just childhood whimsy and the stellar comedy of Jim Carrey that works just about anywhere.

The story of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, whether it is in text or film, represents how magical the Christmas season truly is and how the true meaning of Christmas has the power to redeem even the most sinister of people. This is a tale that brings families together, breaks down decades-long rivalries, and restores life to the darkest of places.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is an undeniable holiday classic, a must-watch film for the whole family. Children will be enthralled by theatrics of the movie, and parents will laugh out loud from many of Jim Carrey’s jokes that only an older audience would understand. Both, however, will walk away with a warm feeling in their hearts from the true meaning of Christmas.