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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Dr. Seuss' The Grinch

The Grinch (2018) on IMDb

Merry Christmas

Plot Overview

Christmas carolers

The reclusive Grinch (voice of Benedict Cumberbatch) on Mt. Crumpet is forced to go down to Who-Ville on business the week before Christmas. After trading smarmy remarks to the residents in reply to their Christmas blessings, he is cowed by some happy carolers in revelry and an oversized tree in transit. His revenge involves a home­made trebuchet and a giant snow­ball, but it back­fires, so he goes on to plan B.


SantaBefore seeing how The Grinch masquerades as Santa come Christmas Eve to steal Christmas gifts from the Whos, we need to look at the real Santa Claus for a point of reference. The Grinch manages all 223 houses in 7 hours of darkness—about two minutes apiece—through high energy, punctilious plan­ning, and suspension of the laws of physics. This happens handily in animation, but the real Santa visits the homes of all the children in the world in the same time period seemingly with­out violating any laws of physics. How does he do that? Let's take it one step at a time, bearing in mind what St. John of Kronstadt writes in his diary: (70)

When you doubt in the truth of any person or any event described in Holy Scripture, then remember that (2Tim. 3:16) “All scripture is given by inspiration of God,” as the Apostle says, and is there­fore true, and does not contain any imaginary persons, fables, and tales, although it includes parables which any­one can see are not true narratives but are written in figurative language.

Our story of Santa Claus is part fact, part myth, and must be accepted as such. Bible stories about real persons and events, on the other hand, should be accepted as true.

SantaWe start with Santa provisioning his sleigh with gifts manufactured by elves at the North Pole. Let's compare Santa's sleigh with Noah's ark. Researcher Mark DeWayne Combs working from Genesis and ancient sources tells us, “we can reasonably propose accurate proportions of the ark to be 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and 51 feet in height” (27). That would dwarf the people working on it making them look like elves in size. Further­more, “Christ him­self referenced the flood (Matthew 24:36-39) … that those out­side of Noah's immediate family ‘knew not until the flood came and took them all away.’ … This brings a detail that would impact the choice of location — the absolute necessity of isolation” (Combs 52). In our modern Santa myth, the elves' construction takes place at the supremely isolated North Pole.

Santa's sleigh is pulled by eight reindeer harnessed in pairs. Noah's ark was filled with pairs of exotic beasts. (Gen. 7:17) “And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lifted up above the earth.” Santa's sleigh also flies up above the earth. The ark landed on (Gen. 8:5) “the tops of the mountains”, the roof of the world. The sleigh lands on the rooftops, too.

hearthNext, Santa comes down the chimney to take care of the families on his route. Noah himself collapsed in a drunken heap to deal with the families in turn. (Gen. 9:18-19) “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth over­spread.” At this point he's to take care of all three children and the grand­kids, and so cover all the children on earth, not violating any laws of physics.

Here's what happened. (Gen. 9:20-23) “And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the naked­ness of his father, and told his two brethren with­out. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went back­ward, and covered the naked­ness of their father; and their faces were back­ward, and they saw not their father's naked­ness.” The song, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” tells us, “He's making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty or nice.” Ham was naughty in the same way the Grinch was naughty when he uncovers a pickle jar in the Who-per­market and spits into it. He damages another jar that a customer needed to make a pie, who then tells him, “Well, that's not very nice.” He is acting according to character, “Today we will do mean things, and we will do them in style!” This contrasts with Who-girl Cindy Lou (voice of Cameron Seely) whose mom declares her, “a wonder­ful daughter.” She's on the nice list.

Noah sorts out his gifts according to his naughty and nice lists. (Gen. 9:24-27) “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Shem and his brother Japheth were a nice pair as were Ham and his son Canaan a naughty pair. The blessings come down through the generations by means of what we call the Christmas spirit, and so do the warnings at least.

Christmas treeThis movie explores what it would be like if there were no Christmas gifts—as if every­one were on the naughty list. Once we can see Santa as a type of a biblical character, we can compare him to others. Paul asked his Corinthian church to be open to him, (2Cor. 6:11-13) “O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.” St. John of Kronstadt writes: (52)

“He is near to his heart” is said of two persons of unequal rank, one of whom protects the other. and the one who has been honoured by the protection of the higher person, and by being near to his heart, knows this, and is reciprocally near him in his own heart.

Santa gives gifts and Noah gives blessings—the ultimate being the Christ child through the Semite line from Shem. The Magi gave gifts but also protection of the Christ child's identity. After Paul's instructions, he goes on with, (2Cor. 10:15) “Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly.” Sandwiched in between is his instructions, (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” The mayor's (voice of Angela Lansbury) goal this year is that Christmas be “three times as large.” The Grinch's problem is that his heart is “two sizes too small.” Unless he has a change of heart it would be better not to be yoked together with him at Christmas. The new movement—not very popular—for a “giftless Christmas” would seem to make Santa the Grinch.

Instead, we should probably consider the principle of moderation as espoused by St. John of Kronstadt: (552)

Be moderate in all religious works, for moderation, even in virtue, corresponding to your powers, according to circumstances of time, place, and previous labour, is prudent and wise.  It is well, for instance, to pray with a pure heart, but as soon as there is no correspondence between the prayer and your powers (energy), with the various circumstances of place and time, with your preceding labours, then it ceases to be a virtue.  There­fore the apostle Peter says, (2Peter 1:5) “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;” (that is, do not be carried away by the heart only); (2Pet. 1:6) “And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness.”

Temperance is by definition moderation in thoughts, feelings, and actions. If we are moderate in all our Christian life, then moderation in Christmas gift-giving follows by course, and there is no call to eliminate it altogether.

Production Values

” (2018) was directed by Yarrow Cheney & Scott Mosier. Its screenplay was written by Michael LeSieur and Tommy Swerdlow. “Dr. Seuss' The Grinch” is an animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss's book, How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Character voices include Benedict Cumberbatch, Cameron Seely, Rashida Jones, Tristan O'Hare, and Scarlett Estevez. Thumbs up on Cumberbatch as The Grinch. Cameron Seely hits the sweet spot as Who Cindy-Lou. Rashida Jones is great as her mother Donna Who. Narrator Pharrell Williams holds it all together with his rhyming narration. Tristan O'Hare is Cindy-Lou's ador­able pal Groopert. Kenan Thompson is excellent as the Grinch's would-be friend Mr. Bricklebaum.

MPAA rated it PG for brief rude humor. It has a run­time of 86 minutes. The animation cannot be faulted; it's bright and smooth. This one offers very little that's new or fresh. Rather, it remains faithful to the source material, not venturing beyond safe ground. The music is Christmasy nice, although there's a whiff of naughty rap here or there.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This movie is family friendly with a bit of a kick. It's a cut above most recent animations in my opinion. It's genuinely funny, heart­warming, and visually stunning. Has a timeless message.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Animation effects: Absolutely amazing. Video Occasion: Christmas season material. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Print. Software.

Combs, Mark DeWayne. End the Beginning. USA: Splinter in the Mind's Eye Pub., 2014. Print.

Sergieff, Archpriest John Iliytch. My Life in Christ. or Moments of Spiritual Serenity and Contemplation, of Reverent Feeling, of Earnest Self-Amendment, and Peace in God: Extracts from the diary of St. John of Kronstadt (Arch­priest John Iliytch Sergieff). Trans­lated with the author's sanction, from the Fourth and Supplemental Edition by E.E. Goulaeff. St. Peters­burg. Jordans­ville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 2000. Print.