KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP)–By now, most seeking G-rated movie fare for the family have seen “College Road Trip” or “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who.”
I graded College Road Trip on a curve. Credit had to be given to the filmmaker’s desire to make a clean comedy. Martin Lawrence in a G-rated movie? Points for that. But it was also a comedy where mugging, eye-rolling and a whole lot of sloppy slapstick passed for wit. If I were a betting man, I’d give odds that parents delighted in that movie mainly because they appreciated their little ones’ reactions.
Same goes for the big screen version of Horton Hears A Who. Though it had a great look, and certainly was family friendly, the whimsy of Dr. Seuss seemed missing. New dialogue had been added, the rhyming removed (mostly), and the metaphoric tale itself had been stretched just a little beyond its welcome. Neither of those Hollywood efforts is bad. They’re just not great. So, let’s spotlight some that are great.
First up, a DVD alternative to Horton Hears A Who — another “Who.” In 1970 the legendary Warner Bros. cartoonist Chuck Jones gave us an inspired TV adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who. The plot/allegory concerns a sweet-natured elephant named Horton who hears a cry for help coming from a tiny speck of dust floating through the air. Suspecting there may be life on that speck and despite a surrounding community that thinks he has lost his mind, Horton is determined to help.
The remastered Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who DVD contains three bonus episodes from the best of Dr. Seuss, including “Butter Battle Book,” “Daisy-Head Mayzie” and “Horton Hatches the Egg!” Also included: a kid-friendly sing-a-long music video and a 90-minute documentary on the life of Dr. Seuss.
I played the main feature for my nephews and niece; each was captivated. And so were we adults. That’s the magic of Dr. Seuss. He had something wonderful to teach or remind all of us and he knew how to do it in a melodious, almost hypnotic way:
“Through the high jungle tree tops, the news quickly spread:
“‘He talks to a dust speck! He’s out of his head!
“‘Just look at him walk with that speck on the flower!’
“And Horton walked, worrying, almost an hour.
“‘Should I put this speck down?’ Horton thought with alarm.
“‘If I do, these small persons may come to great harm.
“‘I can’t put it down. And I won’t! After all
“‘A person’s a person. No matter how small.'”
Are you ever too old for that?
Also new to DVD April 29, Fox Home Entertainment releases “Moondance Alexander” (G). Inspired by a true story, the story focuses on a 12-year-old and the Pinto pony she befriends. Convinced that the horse has champion potential, she enters him in a jumping tournament otherwise reserved for thoroughbreds.
OK, it’s not in the league with “National Velvet,” but the locations are beautiful, the story-telling is done with regard for family members of all ages (in other words, it’s clean), and positive messages abound. The cast includes Kay Panabaker (“Summerland”), Don Johnson (“Miami Vice”), Lori Loughlin (“Full House”) and Olympic skating silver medalist Sasha Cohen.
Now, for those who read, not just watch, here’s a worthwhile book: Believing In Narnia: “A Kids Guide to Unlocking Secret Symbols of Faith in C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia” by Natalie Gillespie (Thomas Nelson). Having written several books and many articles on the subject of Christian symbolism within the Narnia books, Gillespie has geared her latest project towards kids, while managing to also capture the attention of older readers. It’s due out in early May, just in time for the second theatrical installment in the Narnia series, “Prince Caspian” (May 16). I’ve read it and believe it’s well worth your time.
All of us, adults and kids alike, are bombarded by media messages that do little to nurture our spirits. These are three exceptions. I believe people will be enriched by their simplicity and artistry. Check ’em out.
Phil Boatwright reviews films from a Christian perspective on previewonline.org.