Australian Council on Children and the Media

The Grinch

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Short takes

Parental guidance recommended for children under seven, due to scary scenes and some violence.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for The Grinch
  • a review of The Grinch completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 3 December 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 7 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes and some violence.
Children aged 7 and over Ok for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: The Grinch
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: General
Length 90 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The Grinch is an animated movie based on the Dr Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which includes a rhyming narrative by Pharell Williams.  The Grinch (voice of Benedict Cumberbatch) is a sad, miserable creature who lives in an isolated cave with his faithful dog Max. The Grinch watches in dismay while the town of Whoville comes alive with the joy and magic of Christmas. He is determined to destroy the fun and steal all the presents from the town. He enlists the help of Max and a large reindeer called Fred to disguise themselves as Santa and his reindeer to carry out his plan.

At the very last house, having stolen all the presents and destroyed all the decorations along the way, he meets a young girl called Cindy Lou (voice of Cameron Seeley). Cindy Lou had set a trap, determined to have a chat with Santa that night. The Grinch is touched by her sweetness and love for her mother, which have a great impact on him. He remembers his own childhood, spent in an orphanage with no family and no presents for Christmas, and understands why Christmas has always been the worst day of his life. He decides to put things right.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Christmas; orphans; loneliness

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Children have a snowball fight
  • The Grinch throws things at his radio to stop the Christmas Carols.
  • The Grinch knocks down a boy’s snowman. The boy calls him mean so he throws something at the boy.
  • Cindy Lou skis down a slope and crashes into the Grinch.
  • The Grinch gets knocked down by an inflatable snowman.
  • Cindy Lou falls down the stairs.
  • The Grinch tries to destroy the Christmas tree with a cannon but having hauled it to the edge of a cliff, it nearly goes over the edge. It stops in time but catapults the Grinch into the tree.
  • When the Grinch meets Fred the reindeer, it starts to eat his hair. The Grinch then lassoes its horn and Fred runs off, dragging the Grinch behind him. The Grinch slams into a tree.
  • A ferocious dog attacks the Grinch and they both fall of a roof.

 

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The Grinch’s cave looks a bit scary and is accompanied by scary music.
  • A giant Christmas tree is being flown into town by helicopters, which make the Grinch’s cave shake.
  • The Grinch plays loud organ music in his cave and has a mean look on his face. He creeps along the wall, followed by his shadow, which looks quite menacing. There are thunder and lightning.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • The Grinch steals food and is mean to everyone.
  • The Grinch remembers his own childhood in an orphanage. He had no mother or father and no one to care for him. There was no Christmas tree and no presents for him but he watched other kids having fun with their families. It was the worst day of his life.
  • The Grinch and Max get caught in a blizzard. They are both frozen stiff.
  • A ferocious dog with large teeth barks at the Grinch and chases after him.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Nothing of concern.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern.

Product placement

Nothing of concern.

Sexual references

Nothing of concern.

Nudity and sexual activity

Cindy Lou’s friend Grouper practises setting a trap for Santa. In the process, he loses all his clothes and is covered by a strategically-placed cookie.

Use of substances

Adults raise a toast to Christmas.

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Holy Moy; geez

In a nutshell

The Grinch is a is a moving story about how loneliness can make a person envious and resentful of others but how kindness and forgiveness can change a person’s life around. It is a great family Christmas film, reminding us of what Christmas is all about, but there are a few scary scenes which could require parental guidance for younger viewers.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Kindness and love are the things we need most.
  • There might be a good reason for people to feel isolated, lonely and resentful and that it’s important not make people feel left out.

 

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Love and compassion
  • Forgiveness
  • Caring for others
  • Inclusiveness

 

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