Caution: "Horton Hears a Who" review --will contain spoilers about the movie
So we went to see the movie with friends from our homeschool group. I am not impressed and more than disappointed, as Horton is a childhood favorite of mine.
For starters, the villain is a homeschooling Kangaroo mom. She tells the other mothers after watching Horton with their children, as their apparent teacher, that this is precisely why they "pouch school" junior, as she shoves him down in her pouch. More on this later. I didn't enjoy it for many other reasons, the homeschool dig was only one of my issues.
It was entirely too loud, and I don't mean volume. Horton a.k.a Jim Carrey was so hyper so loud, so utterly un-nuanced it was bordering manic. Unlike the performance of Robin Williams as the Genie in Aladdin, Jim's performance was hyper for the sake of being hyper. There were so few down moments. Horton appeared to me to be virtually schizophrenic.
The mayor wants his son desperately to follow in his footsteps and those of their entire family. Yet he seemingly hates his job, has little power and respect and the imagery of the portraits of the ancestors staring down at them from their hallway was intimidating. Why exactly would a good dad want that for his son? The son doesn't speak, and though they toss in one line about not wanting to let his dad down, there is no further development of this relationship or conflict. The son is secretly building this giant musical in the observatory. Why? He doesn't know they live on a speck. The whole thing was 'deus ex machina' , or God out of machine, a lazy writing technique to wrap up things.
Horton never displayed genuine fear. He was determined but without purpose. He was too hyper and unthoughtful to recognize he was taking on the entire jungle. There can be no courage or bravery without fear. The hero must conquer their fear to truly be a hero.
Piglet, in the Pooh stories, is a hero because he conquers his great fears even though they may be as small as walking under a dark tree. Tigger isn't the hero when he jumps a gorge because he is just doing what he does, being Tigger.
Horton is written in the books more like Eeyore, he isn't Tigger, but in this movie that's not the case and so Horton lost his heart, courage and charm for me.
The homeschool element backfired in my opinion because in the end Horton's students, the public schooled kids, lynched him because they were going along with the crowd. They started and stopped and did whatever the crowd did. The homeschooled child, Junior, had the courage to leave the pouch and do what was right.
Horton as a teacher was an utter failure, though the kids enjoyed him. When the parents explicitly told him not to discuss the speck he did so against their wishes and told them not to tell their parents, and to keep it their secret...um, not a good teacher.
All in all, it's a cute little movie but it falls horribly short of the standard of wonderful family movies like Cars, Over the Hedge, Toy Story (look for Toy Story 3 in 2010) or Finding Nemo. These movies demonstrate how heart, value, love and family can be integrated without losing one ounce of comedy adults can enjoy too. In fact the comedy is enhanced through the character development and the attachment between the characters and the audience. In the end, I didn't really give a "Who" about any of them.
Wish I'd saved my $38.00 for 5 of us and rented it later on a Friday night when I could have turned it down a bit.