Five days ago I took my sister's adorable kids (ages 4 and 6) to see Horton Hears a Who. What I am about to say may already be patently obvious to some of you, but I do not watch many (read: any) movies aimed at children so it is new to me.
While I can't say I enjoyed the film – and let's be honest, I'm not the target audience – I was amazed at how much of the humor was over the heads of children and aimed squarely at parents. I know this has been a trend since the mid-90s (approximately beginning with Toy Story) as a simple matter of economics: if the parents don't want to kill themselves for the duration of the film they will be more likely to bring the kids to see it. Fair enough. Parents everywhere are thankful.
This really started me thinking about how bad it must have been for parents when we (anyone born before 1980) were really young. Horton was full of actors I like doing things like talking in a Henry Kissinger accent…and I still found the experience much less than enthralling to sit through. But I have no illusions – it could have been so much worse. I shudder to think back to some of the horseshit my dad took my sister and I to see when I was 4 (Care Bears the Movie and so on). In hindsight it's a certifiable miracle that our parents were not shooting heroin in the parking lot to survive it. While I am in no way willing to rent the movies in order to empirically verify this, I don't suspect there was much that would entertain parents in films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2.