Horton Hears a Who!'s Blessed Reverence
The allegory of Dr. Seuss's charming Horton Hears a Who! remains fluid today, and, like its crafty rhymes, ebbs and flows with the times. The determination of an innocent pachyderm known as Horton to stand up against tyranny and for the survival of the unseen Whos was once recognized as a reaction to McCarthyism. The pro-life movement, to Seuss's dismay, would later co-opt Horton's signature rallying call: "A person's a person, no matter how small!" And given his essential decency and unquenchable need to enlighten the world, I don't hesitate to see this venerable creature as a Jimmy Carter type. Such is the generosity of Seuss's art: Beneath his bright, wild style thrive devilish moral and political ambiguities that invite our nuttiest observations and reflect our every belief. Now a CGI movie that you wouldn't be remiss in dreading after Ron Howard's How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Horton Hears a Who! has blessedly been conceived and executed in reverence to Seuss's story, padding out the original narrative with some meaningful new ideas and casting a mercifully muzzled Jim Carrey as the titular beast. Rather than trivializing (or antagonizing with) its collision of secular and religious beliefs, the film recognizes how faith is an essential part of both value systems. Respect is what Horton's preaching, and that's a message to be foisted on children guilt-free.
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