Saturday, January 10, 2009

Movie #35: Horton Hears a Who!

With winter's grasp firmly suffocating what minimal ambitions I have to be productive, I seem to be unintentionally on my way to another 30 movies in 30 days. I have several movie reviews waiting to be written, and Horton Hears a Who! will be the first.

It wasn't but two movies ago in which I compared the comic stylings of Steve Carell to Jim Carrey, and sure enough we get to see the two of them at the same time in the big-screen version of Horton Hears a Who!, albeit just their voices. In the case of Carrey, tis far better to be heard than seen. While I no doubt read the story as a child, I have no memory of it whatsoever. I remember an elephant (Carrey) and that's about it. Imagine my surprise when the story turns out to have a strong existential and anti-authoritarian bent. Horton the elephant is entrusted with the care and protection of a mere speck--a speck upon which resides an entire community of people (the Whos from Whoville). Nobody can see them, but Horton alone---with his big elephantine ears---can hear them. Once the residents of Whoville begin hearing Horton's booming voice from beyond their heavens, he effectively becomes God.

Yes, the animation is outstanding, and yes there are several amusing jokes and well-voiced characters, but the story is the real star here. While the younger residents in Horton's realm are willing to believe in the possibility of life on that tiny speck, even though they can neither see nor hear it, the cynical adults view Horton's belief as a dangerous use of his that threatens the stability of their insulated worldview. After all, if Horton's story is true, who's to say that we aren't just a speck being protected by a giant elephant. Perhaps our God has its own God? One can only hope that our God is as gentle in spirit as Horton. So far, I'm not convinced.

Carrey is acceptable as Horton the elephant, but only barely, and only because the character is so inherently lovable. He tries his best to overact yet again, which is damn near impossible for an animated talking elephant. Better is Carell as the Mayor of Whoville, who also struggles with widespread skepticism in his community when he reveals to his citizens the truth about their existence. I almost want to have kids just so I can read them this story and breed an open-minded malcontent. Almost.

Having seen this, Kung Fu Panda, and also rewatching WALL-E in the last two weeks, I once again assert that we are in the golden age of animated filmmaking. Relish it.

Grade: 8/10


Blogger Morgan said...

the book was better than the movie :)

January 11, 2009 at 10:17 AM  

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