The Grinch has become more than just a green guy living atop Mount Crumpit. He has come to embody the power of love and how it can change a person. Or a Grinch, or a Who for that matter. His story has been told several times over the years, first as a book and then as several movies which many of us have on rewatch over the holiday season. But the real question here is, which one of the three Grinch movies do you have on rewatch? We’re not saying that you can’t rewatch all of them but let’s be honest here, some of them are getting more play than others in our households. And we think we’ve figured out which one is the best, and which ones are not the best. Because, even if some of The Grinch adaptations weren’t our favorites, no one is ready to call them the worst. Well, maybe one is the worst.
Before we begin, perhaps it’s important to point out that one particular adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ 1957 classic story How the Grinch Stole Christmas did not make the list at all. That was the 2022 horror movie Mean One, which saw Cindy Lou Who take revenge against the Grinch for stealing Christmas. While this is technically a Grinch movie, it’s difficult to imagine Dr. Seuss would have sanctioned his beloved book being turned into a horror movie.
As for the real Grinch movies, we’ve ranked them from worst to best. They’re all good, but some are just... well, better. And that’s that.
#3: The Grinch (2018)
The message in Illumination’s 2018 version of The Grinch is faithful to the one in Dr. Seuss’ book. That Christmas “doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” Benedict Cumberbatch voices the Grinch in this animated version, and it absolutely does have its own charm. The animation is, obviously, considerably better than the original. And Cumberbatch is at once grumpy and charming in the best way possible. But the issue with this version lies in its glossiness. Everything is just a little too tidy, including the Grinch’s Hygge-style cave that honestly any one of us would happily live in. Also, he shops in Whoville amongst the Whos like it’s no big deal. Not sure I can get behind that.
#2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)
The classic Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the original adaptation of the book, was made for television back in 1966. It clocks in under 30 minutes and is a true retelling of the book, with the legendary Boris Karloff narrating the story and voicing the Grinch himself. This version keeps it super simple and relies heavily on a truly beautiful, iconic musical score, introducing us to “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” which every child everywhere probably knows off by heart by now. This version, really the one that started it all, focuses not just on the Grinch himself but also the lives of the Whos in Whoville and how they celebrate the holidays with their quirky toys and musical instruments. It’s a sweet, lovely, nostalgic movie that holds up because it is so simple, so iconic. And let’s be honest; the colors and the length make it the best choice to watch with little kids who have short attention spans.
#1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
As much as it pains me to choose a remake over an original, the 2000 version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas is just the best one. The film directed by Ron Howard and starring Jim Carrey in what has become his most iconic role as a neurotic, lovable, goofy Grinch, just has so much to recommend it. First off, the story might be based on the original book, but it goes so much deeper. We see the Grinch accidentally being delivered as a baby to his “old biddies” to be raised as a Who who never fits in. He gets bullied in school for being different and moves up to Mount Crumpit to live in isolation with his dog Max, who deserved an Oscar for his performance, resenting the Whos in general and Christmas specifically. He meets Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen), an adorable little girl trying to find meaning in the holiday as her family rushes around buying stuff. Cindy Lou is very anti-commercialism. The Grinch tries to steal Christmas, and when he has his change of heart in this version, it’s actually genuinely emotional.
Also let’s never forget, this is by far the most quotable version of The Grinch. Even the Grinch’s to-do list deserves its own movie. “7:30: dinner with me, I can’t cancel that again!” Or “Am I just eating because I’m bored?” or “Curse these Who-benile delinquents and they’re innocent, victim-less pranks.” Or this personal favorite. “Honey, the baby’s here! He kind of looks like your boss.” Plus, the fashion in this movie is very fun — icing on the perfect cake that is How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
All of The Grinch movies are good, but nothing can top this version. As if you didn’t already know that.