What Makes HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS a Christmas Classic?

The best part of  Christmas is rewatching beloved holiday movies, and this year we’re paying tribute to our favorites by looking at everything that makes them a classic. In this Classic Christmas Movie Breakdown we’re revisiting the mean old grump of Mt. Crumpit who hates the holiday so much he tries to steal it, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Charles Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge might have been the original Christmas villain, but even he was okay with other people celebrating the holiday so long as they left him alone. However, Dr. Seuss’ the Grinch despised the day so much he didn’t want anyone to enjoy it. That’s pure evil, and it’s what makes him the best Christmas villain ever. That’s also why his story has endured: his transformation stands as a powerful symbol of the spirit of the season.

But what else makes this special one of the best? Let our Christmas Classic breakdown put  How the Grinch Stole Christmas to the test!

Does Santa appear in How the Grinch Stole Christmas? Is he real? 

It’s hilarious the thin, beardless Grinch thought dressing up like Santa would fool people enough to break into their homes and steal everything, but he was obviously a genius since Cindy Lou Who thought he was Santa. That moment was also the only clue we had before the ending he might not be totally evil, because after his lie–about needing to take everything to the North Pole so he could fix one single Christmas light–he made sure to get her a drink before sending her off to bed with a kindly pat on the head. But still, not what you would call a great “Santa.”

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Are there any magical creatures? Do they talk?

Max the dog is the only character who is technically a normal animal. Whether or not the Grinch and the Whos qualify as “magical” is a matter of semantics, but they don’t really fit the spirit of this question. As for Max, he’s super intelligent, and if there’s any doubt he’s magical lookitthisguy!

Are there any religious components in this movie?

None to be found. Although without a Whoville translation for the lyrics “Fah who foraze/Dah who doraze” we can’t know for sure.

How lovable How the Grinch Stole Christmas‘ main character?

He’s not. Don’t even try to argue otherwise. Would you describe Darth Vader as “lovable?” Sure, you might love him as a character, but he’s not lovable because he ends three movies of evil by turning on the Emperor. Same thing with the Grinch. He’s an all-time great character because he’s not lovable.

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How evil is the villain in How the Grinch Stole Christmas?

So evil. The Grinch doesn’t try to ruin Christmas, he literally steals it. He takes every decoration and present, and even goes back to take any crumbs so the mice can’t enjoy them. The fact he’s so devious is why he’s an awesome character, but geez the Grinch is ruthless. If he wasn’t, his transformation at the end wouldn’t carry the emotional weight it does. Just like the end of Return of the Jedi.

The Grinch is more cynical about Christmas than even Scrooge, who at least relented to societal norms enough to give Bob Cratchit Christmas Day off with pay. The special is not though. Lots of Christmas movies are about the true meaning of the holiday, but the payoff to the Grinch’s master plan is about as sincere as you can get. Especially when most of us wouldn’t enjoy Christmas morning if our coffeemaker broke

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Does anyone sing in this movie? Is there a big group singalong?

The Whos  start the special by singing their song “Welcome Christmas” while they are getting the big Whoville town tree. But it’s their second big singalong that melts the Grinch’s icy heart. They wake up on Christmas morning to find the holiday has been “stolen,” but their song shows Christmas isn’t about stuff, it’s about the spirit of the day and the people you spend it with. They are together and that’s all that matters.

It’s okay to be sentimental about this scene, it’s still as poignant as ever.

What are the biggest Christmas themes and quotes in How the Grinch Stole Christmas?

The true meaning of Christmas. Between this and  A Charlie Brown Christmas it’s clear America has long struggled with the over-commercialization of the holiday. So was there ever a time people weren’t worried about it? Was Christmas ever as pure as we’d like to think it can and should be? These movies are our best reminders of who we want to be.

This has to go to one of the most memorable Christmas lines ever: “And what happened then? Well in Whoville they say, that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.” Though the song lyric, “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch” isn’t far behind. (The funniest line has to be the lyric, “The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote: ‘Stink, stank, stunk!’” Savage. We should all use “stank” more often.)

What is the best scene in How the Grinch Stole Christmas?

The real answer is when the Grinch realizes the true meaning of Christmas and he saves the sleigh from going over the mountain, but the most fun moment is the montage when he is stealing everything, which has “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” playing over it, arguably the best original Christmas movie song ever.

What is the film’s most emotional moment?

It’s obviously when his heart grows, but since we’ve talked about that enough let’s end with a special mention to what happens after he brings the sleigh back to Whoville. They forgive him and invite him to celebrate Christmas. They even let him sit at the head of the table to cut the roast beast. Hmm, roast beast.

We always love a great redemption story, no matter the time of the year, but it means a little bit more at Christmas.

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Originally published December 12, 2017.

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