CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Dr. Seuss’ ‘Horton Hears a Who!’ Heard Loudly Into Instant Children’s Classic
CHICAGO – One of Dr. Seuss’ most famous storybooks has finally been granted life with its self-titled animated feature “Horton Hears a Who!,” which involves a morally righteous elephant, philosophical timbre and Dr. Seuss’ ingenious lyrical rhymes.
A star-studded cast supports this vibrant tale and Dr. Seuss’ ethical elephant and morally slated advice about equality are well represented in this CG-animated adaptation.
Photo credit: IMDb
The elephant Horton (Jim Carrey) comes to the rescue of a speck crying for help as it floats by in the colorful jungle of Nool.
When Horton decides to help the speck even though he can’t see the Whos who inhabit it, the famous line “a person’s a person no matter how big or how small” comes into the film and sets the Suessian tone of the tale.
After Horton and the mayor of Whoville (Steve Carell) initiate communication, they work together to help save the planet of Whoville from total destruction.
When Horton discovers the speck, he is confronted by a law-enforcing kangaroo (Carol Burnett) who is a non-believer. She claims anything she can’t hear or see can’t be real.
As Horton’s determination to protect the speck is challenged by banana-shooting military monkeys, a bone-crushing vulture and an angry animal mob, the mayor of Whoville experiences similar mockery in his parallel world.
Photo credit: IMDb
The film jumps back and forth from the jungle of Nool to Whoville and creates an effective juxtaposition of the different animated cultures.
For instance, in Whoville everything always goes according to plan until their tiny world sets afloat and everything goes awry (with tremors, global warming and backward mishaps aplenty).
Meanwhile, the jungle of Nool starts off as a playful society and transitions into a fearful and angry place.
As the mad animal mob in Nool is about to destroy the speck of Whoville, the mayor of Whoville is able to bring his people together to make enough noise to be heard and save their tiny world.
Carrey and Carell are the star voices of the film and their bubbly wit and humor are perfect matches for their characters. While Carrey at times borders on hyper, writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio translate his active energy into entertaining dialogue for the little guys.
Even though roles by Will Arnett, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hills are small, they are uniquely their own and add wonderful color to the film as a whole. Trendy jokes and references about MySpace, cell phones, condos and “I love the smell of bananas in the morning” are sprinkled throughout the film. Though they might go over the heads of kids, they’re not too over the top for adults.
Photo credit: IMDb
Big life lessons and philosophies are everywhere in this film. They give the movie a moral undertone that so many other children’s movies lack.
The excellent animation and even a sprinkling of japanimation can be credited to the creative directing of Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino.
They managed to not only keep consistency with Seuss’ original illustrations but also created new characters who meshed perfectly with the signature style.
While the crisp CG animations are enough to move this film into the cartoon greats category, also the all-star cast, hilarious wit and virtuous messages have instantly made “Horton Hears a Who!” into a children’s classic.