National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

Against All the Odds, This Horton Stands Tall …

… For ‘A Person’s a Person, No Matter How Small!’

BY STEVEN D. GREYDANUS

March 16-22, 2008 Issue | Posted 3/11/08 at 4:34 PM

 

In the wide world of Seuss, from the white Sneech-beach sands

Out to sleepy Far Foodle, and throughout the lands

Of the Yooks and the Zooks, no hero is braver

Than Horton, egg-hatcher and Who life-saver.


No one’s heart’s bigger, even Thidwick the Moose

And even the Lorax took less abuse.

One book can’t contain Horton’s dogged heroics!

His stoical pluck shows up all other stoics!


He wants every voice to be clearly heard

And he sticks up for those who can’t yet say a word.

Even those still unhatched and forsook by their mothers

Or too small to see and denied by most others.


But … a movie? Last time Who-ville came to the screen

Seuss-ian magic was not to be seen.

Jim Carrey’s Grinch was nothing to relish

And Mike Myers’ Hat Cat was no more Geisel-ish.


Could Horton fare better in La-La Land? Absurd!

A pro-life pachyderm whose bond is his word?

And with Jim Carrey back! As Horton’s own voice!

The Grinch! Could there be a peculiarer choice?


But … what’s this? From Blue Sky? Creators of Manny

The Mammoth — Ice Age’s pachyderm nanny?

The makers of Robots? Could they get it right?

Could they pull off Horton? You know, they just might …


And they have! Their Horton is playful and kind

Responsible, long-suffering, stout in a bind.

And, as if atoning, even Jim Carrey …

He’s not at all grinchy! He’s Horton-y! VERY!


And it gets even better! I’m pleased to relate

That Horton’s the very best Blue Sky to date.

And it comes without latex! Without ribald joshing!

Without key-party games or rave-party moshing!


This isn’t the first time this tale’s been retold

And it’s grown in the telling, like fables of old.

The Chuck Jones short, written by Seuss, broke the news

That the big world beyond was unknown to the Whos.


Then in Seussical, little twerp Jo-jo made good

As the Mayor’s son, soulful but misunderstood.

They take here and there from each form of the fable

But Blue Sky’s own strengths bring a lot to the table.


Their films shine with slapstick, drollness and wit

And Rube Goldberg flair that makes Seuss a good fit.

Their stories and characters don’t always jell

But with something to work with, their work is quite swell.


They know how to use Horton’s ears and his nose

And they’ve got good ideas about all his woes.

Turns out Horton mentors the young jungle critters

And that gives that sour kangaroo mom the jitters.


Discovering life on a speck in the air

Prompts Horton to wonder what could be out there

Far larger than us — but no, nothing is real,

Says the kangaroo, but what you see, hear and feel.


There’s one minor misstep, a throwaway snipe

About how she “pouch-schools” to avoid Horton’s type.

(That’s backwards for sure. That officious old grouch

Has NEA written all over her pouch.)


Meanwhile, in Who-ville, life’s full of song.

Everyone’s cheerful and nothing goes wrong.

There are 96 girls in the Mayor’s happy brood

But Jo-jo, the boy, seems a little subdued.


With hair in his eyes and a sad little frown

He’s the first sulky kid ever born in that town.

But the Mayor, meanwhile, has got his own trouble:

Only he knows or cares what’s outside the Who-bubble.


The kidding is gentle, touched with affection

And no mean-spiritedness or rejection.

Like Horton, the film doesn’t hold any grudges.

In the end, no one’s judged and nobody judges.


But the message that comes through the clearest of all

Is: A person’s a person, no matter how small.

And it should be, it should be, it SHOULD be that way!
Horton’s own faithfulness carries the day!


Register critic Steven D. Greydanus’s reviews in verse of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Cat in the Hat and Scooby-Doo can be found at DecentFilms.com.