Christian Movie Interviews, News and Reviews

5 Things Parents Should Know about The Grinch

  • Michael Foust
5 Things Parents Should Know about <em>The Grinch</em>

Cindy-Lou Who is a young, unselfish girl who doesn’t want presents this Christmas. She only wants her mom to be happy.

“She works all night and takes care of us all day,” Cindy-Lou tells a friend.

Cindy’s Lou’s mom, Donna Who, is a single mom living in the picturesque village of Whoville – a place so beautiful, we’re told, it’s as if the “town was a dream.” Yet Donna Who isn’t enjoying life so much. (At least that’s what Cindy-Lou thinks.) In between her nighttime job and her housework, she has to take care of Cindy-Lou and her other children, who are twin toddlers. She’s often stressed.

Then Cindy-Lou gets an idea: Perhaps Santa can help bring her mom happiness! Thus, Cindy-Lou hatches a plan to meet Santa, face to face, on Christmas Eve … by trapping him.

The plan – perhaps surprisingly – works, but not in the way Cindy-Lou expected. This Santa doesn’t look like the one in pictures. He’s green. And furry. And selfish. In fact, this Santa is on the verge of stealing all the lights, decorations and gifts from Whoville – just because he enjoys being mean.

The movie The Grinch (PG) opens in theaters this weekend, giving us a new twist on the beloved How the Grinch Stole Christmas book by author Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Doctor Strange) as Mr. Grinch, composer Pharrell Williams as the narrator, Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation, Inside Out) as Donna Who, and Cameron Seely (The Greatest Showman) as Cindy Lou Who.

Here are five things parents should know:

Warning: spoilers ahead!

Photo Courtesy: Illumination

1. It’s fun … and funny.

1. It’s fun … and funny.

It’s easy to laugh at a green, furry character who wears “Mold Spice” body spray. And who drinks lattes decorated with a frowny face. And whose yard sign reads, “Seriously, Go Away!” My 10-year-old son and I laughed often, from beginning to end. The animation is colorful, the storyline simple, and the message powerful. We see Mr. Grinch do his evil deeds, but it’s not over the top. There’s a reason we like the story of Mr. Grinch. It’s not because he’s evil. It’s because we know there’s hope for him in the end.

Photo Courtesy: Illumination

2. It mostly sticks to the book.

2. It mostly sticks to the book.

The characters are the same. The story outline is the same. We don’t hear the catchy song popularized in the 1966 cartoon (You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch), but, frankly, I enjoyed the newer songs. We also don’t hear the word-for-word narration from the book. (It’s been rearranged.) That’s OK, too. Sometimes it’s enjoyable to have a new twist on an old story. The movie also answers a question not addressed in the book: Why was Mr. Grinch’s heart two sizes too small? (More on that in a moment.)

Photo Courtesy: Illumination

3. It could have been rated “G.”

3. It could have been rated “G.”

That is, with a few small tweaks. The movie is rated PG for “brief rude humor,” but that inappropriate humor is minimal. We see the Grinch exercise in speedo-style shorts. We also see a boy’s clothes get ripped off by a machine, leaving him naked. (He covers himself with a cookie.) Other than that, it’s close to being the perfect family-friendly movie. There’s no sexuality or coarse language. G-rated movies are rare at the box office. (2017’s Cars 3 was the last G-rated hit.) Such a rating would have been nice, but that’s fine. If every Hollywood film was this kid-friendly, I’d take my family to the movies more often.

Photo Courtesy: Illumination

4. It includes a much-needed lesson about materialism.

4. It includes a much-needed lesson about materialism.

America’s celebration of Christmas has grown so materialized that our economy literally rises and falls on sales. And let’s not kid ourselves: That’s not because we’re excited about giving. It’s because we as a society are hooked on getting. Thankfully, the people of Whoville aren’t that way. When the Grinch steals their decorations and presents, they continue the celebration. (“He didn’t steal Christmas. He just stole stuff. … Christmas is in here,” Donna Who says, pointing to her heart.) The movie also includes a couple of Christ-centric Christmas songs -- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Silent Night– that are front and center in the film.

Photo Courtesy: Illumination

5. It provides a great message about loving others.

5. It provides a great message about loving others.

Yes, the Grinch is a jerk (albeit a funny one), but there’s a reason behind his bad attitude. He had no parents and wasn’t loved as a child. During one poignant flashback, we see a young, sad Grinch – a “lost, lonely boy” – standing alone in an orphanage as everyone else gets presents. It’s heartbreaking to watch. As he grew older, the Grinch became bitter and angry. Christians can learn a lot from this tale. There are “Grinches” all around us, each day of our lives. They are people who are scared and hurting because of something in their past. But like the Grinch, they don’t have to stay that way. They need hope. They need joy. They need Jesus. They need us to reach out to them.

Entertainment rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.

Photo Courtesy: Illumination





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