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Horton Hears a Who!

They finally get it right! With this latest animated Dr. Seuss adaptation, Horton Hears a Who re-creates all the endearing Seussian qualities we've come to cherish.


Horton Hears a Who may not be as high-profile as, say, The Cat in the Hat or How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but it is equally beloved. Thankfully, the script doesn't overcomplicate things but rather keeps to a basic theme of acceptance and staying true to yourself, no matter what the consequences. The story centers on one particularly sweet and imaginative elephant named Horton (Jim Carrey), living in the jungle of Nool, who hears a faint cry coming from a tiny speck of dust floating through the air. Since only he can hear it because of his super-giant ears, Horton quickly finds out it's an entire city called Whoville, nestled deep within the speck. And because "a person's a person, no matter how small," this gives Horton the justification for transporting said speck, now resting on a clover, to a safer spot, despite the ridicule and threats from his fellow Nool denizens. Meanwhile, the mayor of Whoville (Steve Carell), in constant communication with Horton, is having difficulty convincing the town's people they might be in danger of being squashed--or eaten, or blown away into the far reaches. But the mayor shouldn't be worried; Horton's motto--"an elephant's faithful 100 percent"--means the kindly pachyderm will stop at nothing to accomplish his task.


Jim Carrey as a childlike, wildly imaginative elephant? Steve Carell as a furry figurehead who likes being everybody's friend? Imagine that. They both probably could have played it straight, without the animation, and it would have worked--but the CGI certainly adds to their performances. As a Seuss regular, Carrey's usual manic behavior is well-harnessed within the extra folds of elephant skin, and Horton's optimistic outlook is infectious. For example, he doesn't exactly know what 'ASAP' means, but he's pretty sure it means "Act Swiftly, Awesome Pachyderm!" That might just be a better acronym. Carell, as Mr. Mayor of Whoville, is also an upbeat fellow who cherishes his job, his cute wife (Amy Poehler), his 96 daughters and especially his only son, Jo Jo (Jesse McCartney), but when it comes time to save the town, the mayor is all action. Also included in the A-list cast is Seth Rogen, as a hyperactive rodent-type and Horton's BFF; Will Arnett as a molting evil vulture; and Carol Burnett as the snooty Kangaroo, Nool jungle's resident naysayer and mob instigator. It's just another collection of eclectic voices that work well together.


Animating Dr. Seuss is a definitely the key to a successful big-screen adaptation, which up to this point hasn't been done before. One has to wonder why. Yes, seeing Jim Carrey decked out in green fur as the Grinch was quite a spectacle--even Mike Myers as the Cat in the Hat took some initiative. But seriously, what better way to re-create Dr. Seuss than with CGI? Veteran Pixar animator Jimmy Hayward (Monsters, Inc., Toy Story 2) and newcomer Steve Martino take the helm with Horton Hears a Who and paint us all the wacky and wonderful sights and sounds of a Seuessian world. The animals in the jungle are certainly different, with stripes and spots and colors not generally found in such an environ, while Whoville finally looks like the real thing rather than a set design straight from an amusement park. There's even an homage to standard 2-D animation, particularly Japanime, when Horton fantasizes himself a martial arts hero. Classic stuff. Simply, there's really no way they could go back to live-action Dr. Seuss when there are no limits to the imagination he inspires with animation.

Bottom Line rated this film 4 stars.