Thursday, June 25, 2015

Horton Hears A Who (2008) - Film Review

An elephant and a world in a speck. Brilliant plot line!

This film brings back memories. I vaguely remember writing about this film in my old blog back in 2008 when the film came out. We watched this in school after our PMR exams were over.

*In Malaysia, PMR (National Year/Grade 9 exam) is what determines a student to progress to Year/Grade 10 and 11.  So you can imagine that it was a pretty big deal. 

Re-watching it now, I am surprised how incredibly deep this film was. Given that it's a story by Dr. Seuss (bless him) I expected nothing less. 

First of all, looking at the IMDB page for this film, it boasts a variety of talented voice casts; Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Carol, Burnett, Seth Rogen, Isla Fisher, Jonah Hill and Jesse McCartney, among many others. I only remembered Jesse McCartney as Jojo haha (even though he only ever utters a word and sing a line towards the end of the film).

Like all Dr. Seuss stories, this one carries a great deal of moral values that we can learn from and reflect on. It's actually quite jarring how 'violent' this film is. No, no, there's no blood, but there is the threat to boil, torture and to publicly seclude. On a deeper level, this film shows the true face of authority, and just how far one with the said power is will to go to 'keep the peace for the sake of the children'. That's usually the case, isn't it? It makes me question our own higher authorities, how collectively as a group/mob singular people can be shunned - like the Mayor of Whoville. It's just so glaringly obvious who and what the film represents: society and the false peace promised to us by democracy and autocracy, which are represented in the film as the council members of Whoville and Kangaroo, respectively. 

The story also shows us a reflection of our society today, or rather our education system; to conform to what is deemed normal, and to isolate and to do away with what is abnormal, such as active imagination. True, that many schools promote the use of imagination but that's also on a controlled scale. Too much imagination and adults would call the kids weird or 'special', and laugh. That's the reality of it, and this film shows us clearly how flawed we are, yet thinking we are supreme beings able to tower over others who we deem smaller.

This is a brilliant film filled with jokes, puns, external references and slapstick humour (almost) that is sure to tickle your sarcastic funny bone, like mine. It is also emotional at a certain point, where we see Horton go to great lengths to protect and save the Whovians despite everyone else around him calling him crazy, but he never gave up and Dr. Seuss has shown us how beautiful that is. Imagine going through 3 million similar looking flowers just to look for a speck of dust! At its core I feel that it is a film about acknowledging how toxic power can be, but as any other Hollywood film, there is always a happy ending. Badsies can repent and all is right with the world again. That's not to say that it's an ignorant view, it is true that life isn't as simple, where we just forgive and forget, but I do believe we can be as such. Villains are people too (or in this case, animals) and what we think is utterly wrong, they think it's right. So, it's also a matter of perspective, and the personal aim for such a drive.

I'd recommend this film for kids and adults alike. Children may not truly understand the complex social hierarchy depicted in the film, but it will definitely teach them a thing or two about respecting others and not judging based on their own personal opinions.

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