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Review of “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!” (2008) G 88min

March 17th, 2008 by Maxim · 2 Comments · 6,690 Views

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This 3D animated film based on Dr. Seuss’ (Theodore Geisel) short story is directed by Pixar veteran Jimmy Heyward and Steve Martino and produced by Twentieth Century Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios – the creators of the Ice Age and special effects for Titan A.E..

The plot: Horton (Jim Carrey), a gentle elephant, discovers a whole world of tiny people called The Whos, who live in a microscopic city Whoville on a speck of the dust. When the speck was dislodged from a flower and flies by Horton, he hears the cries for help coming from the speck. Even though he can’t see them, Horton is determined to help the Whos by placing the speck in a safe location in a mountain cave. But his neighbours don’t believe him. They think Horton is mad and want to destroy the flower and the dust speck to stop Horton’s “lies” about the tiny people. Kangaroo, who likes to think that everything she says must be a law, even hires an vulture Vlad (Will Arnett), a sinister, but incompetent Russian super-villain — to steal and destroy Horton’s clover with the speck on it.

The good: very talented actors gave their voices to the characters: Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Carol Burnett, Isla Fisher, Will Arnet, as well as young comedy stars of “Knocked up” and “Superbad”, Seth Rogan and Jonah Hill. The world of Horton and the tiny world of the Whos really do look Seussean, with the mayor’s big house, the observatory and the jungle. There were a few great visual gags, like Horton’s dream sequence made as Japanese anime, or the mayor’s portrait gallery, or enormous fluffy field of clovers where Horton was trying to find the speck he momentarily lost. Horton and other animated characters offer a visual fiest.

The bad: The story is a mess. Horton is running around like Chicken Little saying there’s an invisible world on the speck of the dust about to be destroyed and nobody believes him. Basically there’s a bunch of characters that kind of do their own thing with no reason why they do it. Horton was supposed to be the sincerity itself. “A person is a person, no matter how small”, he declares. But then he says, “that is my motto, my code” – so much for sincerity. This message [coincidence?] is also reminiscent of the one side of the anti-abortion rhetoric. There was also “every voice counts” message played out several times. There’s also a sequence where Kangaroo’s speech sounded like Hillary Clinton’s motivational speeches. Horton is also doing an unwarranted impression of John F. Kennedy. Why? Because he’s animated! It appears that quoting from pop-culture and referring to movies like “Apocalypse Now” (Shrek thrived on it). And it’s just not funny anymore. When Kangaroo repeatedly says, “if I can’t see it it doesn’t exist”, it felt like the creators of the movie are trying to demonize atheists. On the other side of the world, in Whoville, the tiny people did not believe the Mayor that a big invisible elephant is in control of their world and watches over them. The Kangaroo was like a president of homeowners association, who tells you how long the grass on your loan should be. All of a sudden in the end of the movie the Whos burst into a song. It’s not clear why any of the characters did any of the things they did, except because the director wanted them to do it. Nothing sincere about them either.

The theater was empty. Four adults were sitting in front of me and laughed hard, but they lauhed before the movie began too. A 3-year old behind me kept licking the seat and putting pop corn on my head – she didn’t care about the movie after about 20 minutes into it.

The credits: Directors – Steve Martino & Jimmy Heyward | Writers – Dr. Seuss (the book), Ken Daurio & Cinco Paul | Producers – Audrey Geisel, Bob Gordon, Christopher Meledandri, Chris Wedge | Musical score – John Powell | Blue Sky Studios | Twentieth Century Fox Animation

The cast: Horton – Jim Carrey | The Mayor of Whoville – Steve Carell | Kangaroo – Caroll Burnett | Vlad – Will Arnett | Morton – Seth Rogan | Councilman – Dan Fogler | Dr. Mary Lou Larue – Isla Fisher | Tommy – Jonah Hill | Obnoxious Who – Jimmy Hayward

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Tags: Adventure · Animation · Comedy · Fantasy · Movies · USA

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 patrick // Apr 8, 2008 at 12:48 pm

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    Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who is classic, i forgot how much that guy packed into such simple storylines… they didn’t add much to the original story either except for the usual Jim-Carryisms.

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