This animated version of the classic Dr. Seuss book Horton Hears A Who is the story of an elephant named Horton, who discovers a little pink fluff, and because of his excellent hearing is able to hear the call of a scientist, asking for help...in fact there is an entire other world on the tiny little pink fluff ball. Horton, being the only one that can hear the scientist, is quickly persecuted by his fellow jungle creatures.
Heavy stuff - and Dr. Seuss, true to form, sends a message loud and clear in Horton Hears A Who - "a person is a person no matter how small" (right from the story and said numerous times). This was not the only meaning I found in this story, however. The clear division of believers and non-believers, and the lengths they will go to (particularly the non believers) raised my blood pressure. The kangaroo (lead persecutor) has no real business interfering with Horton's quest to save the Whos, and yet she spies on him, has others kidnap him and carry him off, and steals his fluff ball.
Watching this with my kids was good - there was a lot for us to see, and for us to talk about after. The typically zany characters, bright colours and lots of action held our attention from start to finish. From an adult's perspective, the injustice is clear...kids see it from their own perspective, and accept interference much more easily. All four of my kids liked this film they really were rooting for Horton. Once I pointed out the misguided efforts of the nosy kangaroo, they really started to get upset with her.
Also worth mentioning - Chuck Jones (yes THE Chuck Jones) directed the feature presentation, and therefore there is a feeling of "Grinch" here, as he also collaborated with Dr. Seuss on that cartoon.
There are three more cartoons on this DVD each worth exploring in their own right (I wasn't aware that there were so many Dr. Seuss animated stories): Butter Battle book - a clear depiction of arms escalation all the way up to the nuclear bomb...nothing veiled (thinly or otherwise) in this message - just plain scary!
Daisy-Head Mayzie is the story of a little girl who grows a daisy from the top of her head - much to the dismay and amusement of her classmates - the message here: accepting others for who they are.
Finally, Horton Hatches an Egg -shows us how to be responsible even when things aren't easy. There is also the documentary In Search of Dr. Seuss that could be reviewed as a stand alone, as it is an excellent insight into the world of the author, features some familiar Hollywood names (Kathy Najimy, Matt Frewer, Christopher Lloyd, Andrea Martin and Patrick Stewart to name a few), and is roughly 90 minutes long.
Horton Hears A Who is an excellent DVD for the children's cartoon features, and for the documentary included. If you are a fan Dr. Seuss, you will love this DVD. If you have yet to be convinced, this disc will do the job, hands down.