Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Grinch Adoption Movie Review

The furry, green hermit known as The Grinch hates the boisterous Christmas celebrations in Whoville. They rub against sore memories from his own childhood. And so, the Grinch has an idea, an awful idea – to stop Christmas from coming. Can the joy of Christmas break through the Grinch’s pained hatred of the holiday?


The Adoption Connection

The film opens by teasing the fact that The Grinch felt upset around Christmas time, but wasn’t sure of why he felt that way. Over time, we see clips from The Grinch’s childhood. He was abandoned, alone, rejected, and lived in an orphanage. Although he dreamed of spending Christmas with loving friends, his Christmas was spent alone in an undecorated room. The pain from the letdown of that Christmas in the prisonlike orphanage has led to The Grinch’s lifelong hatred of the holiday. The love of his neighbors eventually warms his heart and helps him find the healing he needs to embrace the holiday and embrace his neighbors.
Cindy Lou Who (who in this film is quite older than two,) cares deeply about her mother. Cindy Lou’s mom is a single mom who cares for Cindy Lou and her two infant siblings, and Cindy expresses “Mom works, cares for us, and it’s not fair. She acts like it’s fine, but it’s really hard, and if anyone can fix it, it’s Santa.” I admire Cindy Lou’s empathy, but it does seem like a lot of emotional insight for a five(ish) year old. I also would want to make sure that a kid who’s been abused or neglected wouldn’t hear Cindy Lou’s words and then start to wonder if caring for them might be too big a burden for their parents to bear.

Strong Points

The film’s orphanage scenes could be hard for children, but they also offer significant insight into how a seemingly happy day or occurrence can be triggering for kids who’ve had hard experiences. The Grinch hated Christmas every year, because he was very sad on a Christmas as a child and “he feels these feelings every year.”

The film also shows how love and acceptance, and not rebuke, is what finally helped the Grinch overcome the pain of his past.

The Grinch does honestly explain to the Whos, “I stole because I thought it would fix something that happened a long time ago.” He expresses surprise when they invite him into their homes anyway. Finally, he discovers, “It wasn’t Christmas I hated; it was being alone,” and adding that Cindy Lou’s “kindness changed my life.”


Although the film only spends two minutes in the orphanage, it could be quite difficult for some kids – especially those who have unresolved grief regarding childhood experiences of abuse, neglect or loss. In rhyming verse, the narrator reflects on The Grinch, who was “isolated and sad, with no home of his own, no mom, and no dad” and who “remembered Christmas where nobody cared, nobody showed.”


The Grinch is surprising in two ways – it could be very triggering for young kids with unresolved grief regarding familial loss, and it could be very insightful for parents of kids from hard places. For some kids, the orphanage scene will push it out of the bounds of comfort; for others, it could be a helpful tool to talk about the times when we’re sad, but don’t really know why. It's a judgment call on whether the orphanage scene will be hard for your kiddos, but I'd guess it's most likely to be hard for kids ages 9 and under.

Questions for Discussion

What made the Grinch hate Christmas? Why did he think he hated it?

What can help someone feel better when they’re sad about something from long ago?

Other Ideas

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