Monday, December 28, 2009

Horton Hears a Who!

Day 361 - 12/27/09 - Movie #361

BEFORE: Back in NYC, the holiday is over and so are my holiday movies - but I'll watch back-to-back Dr. Seuss (and Jim Carrey) movies, and end the year with a chain of animated films.

THE PLOT: Horton the Elephant struggles to protect a microscopic community from his neighbors who refuse to believe it exists.

AFTER: It's a little tough to get a handle on this one, since I remember it as a kids' story that took about 10 minutes to read (perfect for small kids and their short attention spans) so just like with the "Grinch" movie, it takes some doing to bump it up to a 90-minute film.

What starts as a somewhat silly film about a huge elephant and a tiny life-filled speck can also be seen as a commentary on the nature of the universe - hey, maybe we're all just floating on a speck, or maybe our earth is just an electron in a giant solar-system sized atom, which is a tiny piece on the toenail of some giant, man, I'll have another hit of whatever Dr. Seuss was smoking...

But then there's sort of a commentary on religion, as the Mayor (voiced by Steve Carell), the only Who in Whoville that can hear Horton (Jim Carrey), has to get the rest of his community to believe in the giant elephant in the sky, even though they can't see or hear him. And if they do, then their world will be saved, but if not, then it's certain doom. You can draw your own parallels to Judeo-Christianity, or Islam, Scientology or whatever. And religion is a bit of an all-or-nothing proposition for me - if some part of it is bogus, then it's all bogus. Christmas is a fun time for me to engage in religious discussions with my parents - can you guess which side I'm on?

What makes God any more or less real than a giant invisible elephant, or Santa Claus, or a flying spaghetti monster? But I digress...

I suppose you could draw an analogy to science as well, since at one point people weren't aware of tiny things like germs or bacteria - and when some scientists figured it out, they had to convince people that maybe washing hands, sterilizing scalpels and wearing surgical masks were good ideas.

The point is, Horton believes in the Whos, and the Whos believe in him - but Horton's obsession with tiny, invisible lifeforms angers Ms. Kangaroo (Carol Burnett) who sends Vlad the Vulture (Will Arnett) to destroy this clover supposedly containing tiny lifeforms that she can't see or hear.

I would like to believe that there is something bigger (or smaller) than humanity in the universe - that somewhere, someone is in some kind of control (the "Daddy's driving" theory of religion) but I'm certainly not arrogant enough to say that I've got it all figured out, one way or the other. Why can't part of my belief system be in a higher power that I don't think I'm designed to understand? My god is funny like that - he doesn't want me to think I've got all figured out.

But I do admire a movie that raises a few questions...

Also starring the voices of Seth Rogen, Amy Poehler, Jonah Hill, Jaime Pressley, Charles Osgood, and Niecy Nash.

RATING: 7 out of 10 leaf-bugs

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