How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000 film)

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas
How the Grinch Stole Christmas film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRon Howard
Produced byBrian Grazer
Ron Howard
Screenplay byJeffrey Price
Peter S. Seaman
Based onHow the Grinch Stole Christmas!
by Dr. Seuss
Narrated byAnthony Hopkins
Music byJames Horner
CinematographyDon Peterman
Edited by
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • November 8, 2000 (2000-11-08) (Los Angeles)
  • November 17, 2000 (2000-11-17) (United States)
Running time
105 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$123 million[2]
Box office$345.1 million[2]

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (also known as Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas and simply The Grinch in the UK) is a 2000 American Christmas fantasy comedy film directed by Ron Howard and written by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman. Based on Dr. Seuss's 1957 book of the same name, the film was the first Dr. Seuss book to be adapted into a full-length feature film; the film stars Jim Carrey in the title role, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, Molly Shannon and Taylor Momsen.

Because the film is based on a children's picture book, many additions were made to the storyline to bring it up to feature-length, including some information about the backstory of the title character and reworking the story's minor character Cindy Lou Who as a main character. Most of the rhymes that were used in the book were also used in the film, though some of the lines were to some degree changed and several new rhymes were put in; the film also borrowed some music and character elements (such as the Grinch's green skin tone) that originated in the 1966 animated television special.

Produced by Howard and Brian Grazer's Imagine Entertainment, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was released by Universal Pictures on November 17, 2000 to mixed reviews from critics, mostly criticizing the script and some innuendos, while the musical score, Carrey's performance, visual aspects and production values (particularly Rick Baker´s makeup effects) were favorably praised. The film grossed over $345 million worldwide, becoming the sixth-highest grossing film of 2000 and was originally the second highest-grossing holiday film of all-time behind Home Alone (1990), until both movies were surpassed in 2018 by the third film adaptation of the story,[2][3] it won the Academy Award for Best Makeup as well as getting nominations for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.


All the residents of Whoville (Whos) enjoy celebrating Christmas, except for the Grinch, a misanthropic, eccentric and egotistical creature and genius inventor, who hates it, as well as the Whos. No one likes the Grinch, due to the vengeful and harmful stunts he occasionally pulls on them. Six-year-old Cindy Lou Who believes everyone is missing the point about Christmas by focusing on the gifts and festivities, instead of personal relationships, she has a face-to-face encounter with the Grinch at the post office, in which he reluctantly saves her life, and she becomes interested in his history. She asks everyone what they know about him and discovers his tragic past.

The Grinch arrived in Whoville as a baby, and was adopted by two spinster sisters, he showed some sadistic tendencies as a child, but was timid and not as cruel as he would later become. In school, the Grinch had a crush on Martha May Whovier, who seemed to reciprocate his feelings. Augustus Maywho was jealous that Martha seemed to like the Grinch more than him, and began to bully the Grinch. One year, the Grinch made a Christmas gift for Martha, and cut his face attempting to shave after Maywho pointed out he had a beard; when his classmates laughed at his cut face, he lost his temper, destroyed the Christmas gift, trashed the classroom, and exiled himself to the top of Mount Crumpit, north of Whoville.

Touched by this story, Cindy decides to nominate the Grinch to be the Christmas Whobilation "Holiday Cheermeister", much to the displeasure of Maywho, now the mayor of Whoville, she climbs Mount Crumpit to invite the Grinch to the Whobilation; he initially turns her down, but changes his mind as he considers the promised award, the fact that Martha will see him at the celebration, and a chance to upset his former rival. As Cheermeister, he endures being made to wear an ugly sweater and judge all the Whos' Christmas food concoctions, but he enjoys showing unsportsmanlike conduct by beating all the children in the competitions. Maywho reminds him of his childhood humiliation by giving him an electric shaver as a present, then publicly proposes marriage to Martha, giving her a large ring and promising her a new car paid for by the local taxpayers. In response, the Grinch shaves Maywho's hair with the shaver and berates the Whos, telling them that Christmas is only about gifts that they will end up throwing in the garbage, which is dumped on Mount Crumpit near his home, he proceeds to ruin the party by burning down the town's Christmas tree and causing chaos throughout Whoville. His actions prove fruitless, as the Whos have a spare tree, which they are able to erect before he leaves. Frustrated, the mayor shames Cindy for inviting the Grinch, leaving her upset.

Since the Grinch's attack has failed to crush the Whos' Christmas spirit, he concocts a plan to prove his point by stealing all of their presents, decorations, and food while they are sleeping. Creating a Santa suit and powered sleigh, and dressing his dog Max as a reindeer, the Grinch descends to Whoville and steals all of the Christmas gifts; when Cindy Lou catches him stealing the tree, he tells her he is taking it to Santa's workshop to repair a defective light. On Christmas morning, the Whos discover the theft, and Maywho reproaches Cindy for letting this happen to Whoville, her cheerful father, Lou Lou Who, who is also the town's postmaster, defends her honor for reminding the Whos that Christmas is about love of family and friends, not just gifts. The people start singing Seuss's Welcome Christmas.

Before the Grinch can push the stolen gifts off the top of Mount Crumpit, he hears the Whos' singing and sees he has failed to prevent Christmas, and has an epiphany that Christmas "doesn't come from a store", but "perhaps ... means a little bit more". His heart grows three sizes, and as the sleigh full of gifts begins to slide over the edge of the cliff, he desperately strains to save them, but cannot, he then sees Cindy on top of the sleigh because she has come to spend Christmas with him. Motivated to save not just gifts but Cindy's life, the Grinch finds the strength to lift the loaded sleigh and Cindy to safety, they then ride the sleigh down the mountain to return the gifts. The Grinch confesses to the burglary, apologizes, and peacefully surrenders himself to the police, who accept the Grinch's apology, and refuse to follow the mayor's desire to pepper spray the Grinch, much to the mayor's dismay. Martha also turns down the mayor's proposal and returns his engagement ring, declaring that she would rather be with the Grinch; the Grinch joins in the Whos' celebration feast, carving the roast beast himself.



Ron Howard is the film's director and producer.

Before his death in 1991, Dr. Seuss had refused offers to sell the film rights to his books. However, his widow Audrey Geisel, agreed to several merchandising deals, including clothing lines, accessories and CDs.[4] In July 1998, Geisel's agents announced via letter she would auction the film rights of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. In order to pitch their ideas to Geisel, the suitors ultimately had to be willing to pay $5 million for the material and hand over 4 percent of the box-office gross, 50 percent of the merchandising revenue and music-related material, and 70 percent of the income from book tie-ins; the letter also stated that "any actor submitted for the Grinch must be of comparable stature to Jack Nicholson, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman." Additionally, it was stipulated that the estate would not consider a director or writer who hadn't earned at least $1 million on a previous picture.[5]

20th Century Fox pitched its version with director Tom Shadyac and producers Dave Phillips and John Davis in attendance, in which Jack Nicholson was in mind to play the Grinch.[6] Additionally, the Farrelly brothers and John Hughes pitched their own separate versions.[7] Universal Pictures held its pitch presentation with Brian Grazer and Gary Ross in attendance, but Geisel refused such offer. Grazer then enlisted his producing partner Ron Howard to help with the negotiations. At the time, Howard was developing a film adaptation of The Sea-Wolf, and, despite being an avid fan of the animated special, did not express interest in Grinch, but Grazer talked Howard into traveling to Geisel's residence for the pitch meeting.[8] While studying the book, Howard became interested in the character Cindy Lou Who and pitched a film in which she would have a larger role as well as a materialistic representation of the Whos and an expanded backstory of the Grinch.[5][9]

On September 16, 1998, it was announced that Howard would direct and co-produce a live-action adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey attached to star,[10] it was also reported that Universal Pictures, who had acquired the distribution rights, paid $9 million for the film rights for an adaptation of Grinch and Oh, the Places You'll Go! to Geisel.[11] Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman wrote the final screenplay following eight drafts, but Geisel also had veto power over the script. She objected to several jokes and sexual innuendos in the screenplay, including one about a family who did not have a Christmas tree or presents jokingly called the "Who-steins" and the placement of a stuffed trophy of The Cat in the Hat on the Grinch's wall.[12] Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer did an uncredited rewrite of the script.[13]

The film was shot between September 1999 and January 2000. Geisel visited the set in October 1999. Much of the Whoville set was constructed on the backlot of Universal Studios behind the Bates Motel set from Psycho. Rick Baker was hired to design and create the film's prosthetic makeup for Carrey and the rest of the cast, it took a number of tests, and ultimately Carrey admiring a photo of Baker in his first test makeup, for the decision to use Baker's original makeup design. The Grinch suit was covered in yak hair, dyed green and sewed onto a spandex suit; the first application of the makeup took up to 8 hours, after which a frustrated Carrey kicked a hole in the wall of his trailer, wanting to quit the film. The production brought in a CIA operative who instructed agents how to endure extreme torture techniques to coach Carrey to remain calm during the process;[14] the process was later refined so that it took only two and a half hours in the morning getting in, and one hour in the evening to get out. Meanwhile, Josh Ryan Evans, who played the 8-year old Grinch, wore the same makeup and bodysuit that Carrey wore, but took five and a half hours, 2 hours more than Carrey, because his prosthetics were smaller and more intricate. In total, Carrey spent 92 days in the Grinch make-up, and became adept at remaining calm while sitting in the make-up chair; the actors who played the Whos were a large task for Baker and his crew, which made it one of the largest makeup crews ever assembled. Most of the appliances the actors wore were noses that connected to an upper lip along with a few dentures, ears, and wigs.


All music composed by James Horner,
Danny Elfman, except where noted.

No.TitlePerformed byLength
1."Kids Today" (Dialogue)  
2."Grinch 2000" (Dr. Seuss and Albert Hague)Busta Rhymes and Jim Carrey 
3."Green Christmas" (Steven Page and Ed Robertson)Barenaked Ladies 
4."Christmas of Love" (Rick Cherloff, David Forman and Rob Hyman)Little Isidore and the Inquisitors 
5."Lonely Christmas Eve" (Ben Folds)Ben Folds 
6."Grinch Schedule" (Dialogue)  
7."Better Do It Right" (Greg Camp)Smash Mouth 
8."Whoville Medley (Perfect Christmas Night/Grinch)" (Paul O'Neill, Robert Kinkel, Jon Oliva)Trans-Siberian Orchestra 
9."Reindeer" (Dialogue)  
10."Christmas Is Going to the Dogs" (Mark Oliver Everett)The Eels 
11."You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" (Seuss and Hague)Carrey 
12."Christmas Means More" (Dialogue)  
13."You Don't Have to Be Alone" (JC Chasez, Veit Renn and David Nicoll)*NSYNC 
14."Where Are You, Christmas?" (Horner, Will Jennings and Mariah Carey)Faith Hill 
15."The Shape of Things to Come"  
16."Memories of a Green Childhood"  
17."Christmas, Why Can't I Find You?" (Horner and Jennings)Taylor Momsen 
18."Stealing Christmas"  
19."The Big Heist"  
20."Does Cindy Lou Really Ruin Christmas?"  
21."A Change of Heart"  
22."The Sleigh of Presents"  
23."He Carves the Roast Beast"  


Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS and DVD on November 20, 2001; the extended cut of the film on VHS and DVD was released on October 29, 2002. A Blu-ray/DVD combo pack was released on October 13, 2009.


Box office[edit]

How the Grinch Stole Christmas grossed $260 million domestically and $85.1 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $345.1 million, becoming the sixth highest-grossing film of 2000.

In the United States, The Grinch opened at number-one on its opening day, making $15.6 million, with a weekend gross of $55.0 million, for an average of $17,615 from 3,127 theaters. The film held the record for the highest opening weekend for a Christmas-themed film for 18 years until the 2018 film version of The Grinch passed it with $67.6 million. In its second weekend, the film grossed $52.1 million, dropping only 5.1%, settling a new record for highest-grossing second weekend for any film. The film stayed at the top of the box office for four weekends until it was overtaken by What Women Want in mid-December; the film closed on April 30, 2001, after five months with a final gross of $260,044,825.[2] Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 48.1 million tickets in North America.[15]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 51% based on 135 reviews, with an average rating of 5.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Jim Carrey shines as the Grinch. Unfortunately, it's not enough to save this movie. You'd be better off watching the TV cartoon."[16] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 46 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[17] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.[18]

Roger Ebert gave the film two out of four stars, referring to it as "a dank, eerie, weird movie about a sour creature" and said, "There should be ... a jollier production design and a brighter look overall ... It's just not much fun." Ebert observed that Carrey "works as hard as an actor has ever worked in a movie, to small avail". Nevertheless, he decided that "adults may appreciate Carrey's remarkable performance in an intellectual sort of way and give him points for what was obviously a supreme effort".[19]

Paul Clinton of CNN declared that Carrey "was born to play this role" and noted that "Carrey carries nearly every scene. In fact, if he's not in the scene, there is no scene.[20] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly began his review of the film analyzing the Grinch's "mischievously divided, now-I'm-calm/ now-I'm-a-raving-sarcastic-PSYCH-o! personality" and summed up Carrey's Grinch as "a slobby, self-loathing elitist ruled by the secret fear that he's always being left out of things." Gleiberman expressed surprise at "how affecting Carrey makes the Grinch's ultimate big-hearted turnaround, as Carrey the actor sneaks up on Carrey the wild-man dervish. In whichever mode, he carreys [sic] the movie."[21]

Peter Stack of the San Francisco Chronicle said, "Nobody could play the Grinch better than Jim Carrey, whose rubbery antics and maniacal sense of mischief are so well suited to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Dr. Seuss himself might have turned to Carrey as a model for the classic curmudgeon had the actor been around in 1957." However, he wondered why Carrey "made himself sound like Sean Connery" and warned that the character's intensity may frighten small children.[22] James Berardinelli of ReelViews wrote that Carrey's "off-the-wall performance is reminiscent of what he accomplished in The Mask, except that here he never allows the special effects to upstage him. Carrey's Grinch is a combination of Seuss' creation and Carrey's personality, with a voice that sounds far more like a weird amalgamation of Sean Connery and Jim Backus (Bond meets Magoo!) than it does Karloff." He concluded that Carrey "brings animation to the live action, and, surrounded by glittering, fantastical sets and computer-spun special effects, Carrey enables Ron Howard's version of the classic story to come across as more of a welcome endeavor than a pointless re-tread."[23]

Some reviews were more polarized. Stephanie Zacharek of Salon in a generally negative review of the film, wrote that "Carrey pulls off an admirable impersonation of an animated figure ... It's fine as mimicry goes – but mimicry isn't the best playground for comic genius. Shouldn't we be asking more of a man who's very likely the most gifted comic actor of his generation?" She concluded that in spite of "a few terrific ad-libs ... his jokes come off as nothing more than a desperate effort to inject some offbeat humor into an otherwise numbingly unhip, nonsensical and just plain dull story".[24]

Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote, "Carrey tries out all sorts of intonations, vocal pitches and delivery styles, his tough guy posturing reminding at times of Cagney and his sibilant S's recalling Bogart, his antic gesturing and face-making hit the mark at times, but at other moments seem arbitrary and scattershot. Furthermore, his free-flowing tirades, full of catch-all allusions and references, are pitched for adult appreciation and look destined to sail right over the heads of pre-teens."[25]


Award Category Recipient Result
Academy Awards Best Makeup Rick Baker and Gail Rowell-Ryan Won
Best Art Direction Michael Corenblith and Merideth Boswell Nominated
Best Costume Design Rita Ryack Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Musical or Comedy Jim Carrey Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Movie Won
Favorite Movie Actor Jim Carrey Won
MTV Movie Awards Best Villain Won
Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Remake or Sequel Nominated
Worst Screenplay Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Fantasy Film Nominated
Best Director Ron Howard Nominated
Best Actor Jim Carrey Nominated
Best Performance by a Younger Actor Taylor Momsen Nominated
Best Costume Rita Ryack, David Page Nominated
Best Music James Horner Won
Best Make-Up Rick Baker and Gail Rowell-Ryan Won
Best Special Effects Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Grinch". British Board of Film Classification.
  2. ^ a b c d "How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  3. ^ "Arts & Media". Guinness World Records 2007. Guinness World Records Limited. 2006. p. 182 (UK edition). ISBN 1-904994-11-3.
  4. ^ "Universal purchases rights for 2 Dr. Seuss characters". Deseret News. September 17, 1998. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Cagle, Jess (November 11, 2000). "Seuss on the Loose". Time. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  6. ^ "Carrey Plays The Grinch". Empire. September 17, 1998. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  7. ^ "The Grinch's Gatekeeper". Newsweek. November 11, 2000. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  8. ^ Head, Steve (November 7, 2000). "Dr. Seuss' Widow Objected To Elements In Early Scripts for the Grinch". IGN. News Corporation. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  9. ^ Scribner, Sarah (November 11, 2000). "Grinch Doctor". Hartford Courant. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  10. ^ Fleming, Michael (September 16, 1998). "U, Imagine clinch 'Grinch' pic deal". Variety. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  11. ^ Eller, Claudia (September 16, 1998). "Seuss Rights Sold for Up to $9 Million". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  12. ^ Armstrong, Mark (November 6, 2000). "Mrs. Seuss: Whoville Is Not Poo-ville". E! News. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  13. ^ Horn, John; Abramowitz, Rachel (December 4, 2005). "Credit ascribed, denied". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  14. ^ Barnes, Anthony (December 15, 2014). "Jim Carrey tells of make-up 'torture' during The Grinch". Times of Malta. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  15. ^ "How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  16. ^ "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  17. ^ "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". Metacritic. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  18. ^ "Find CinemaScore". CinemaScore. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  19. ^ Roger Ebert (November 17, 2000). "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas". Sun Times. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  20. ^ Paul Clinton (November 17, 2000). "Review: Steal away to see the latest 'Grinch'". CNN. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  21. ^ Owen Gleiberman (November 24, 2000). "How the Grinch Stole Christmas Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  22. ^ Peter Stack (November 17, 2000). "How Effects Stole 'Christmas' / Supercharged 'Grinch' stays true to Seuss but amps up Carrey's character". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  23. ^ James Berardinelli (November 17, 2000). "Reelviews Movie Reviews". ReelViews. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  24. ^ Stephanie Zacharek (November 17, 2000). "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas". Salon. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  25. ^ Todd McCarthy (November 16, 2000). "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas". Variety. Retrieved November 11, 2018.

External links[edit]