Horton Hears a Who!

Horton Hears a Who!

(2008)

Dr Seuss' genius gets a CGI animated make over by Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age). Horton, an elephant, hears a 'who' coming from a speck of dust. Convinced a tiny community lives on that speck, along with someone needing assistance, Horton is driven to help... despite the ridicule of friends and family.

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Flicks Review

Horton Hears A Who!, from its cast of creatures to the gorgeous Forest of Nool, is a great kids story. Bouncy, floppy, bursting at the seams with colour, this extremely cheerful and big hearted Dr. Seuss adaptation will be well loved.

Eternal optimist Horton (Jim Carrey) swears he hears a yelp for help from a speck of dust, despite ridicule from his Forest of Nool friends. This riles the sour Kangaroo (Carol Burnett) so much, she employs the likes of vulture Vlad (Will Arnett sounding like a Russian Dracula) to end this silliness. But Horton is right, and he dedicates himself wholeheartedly to saving the speck’s inhabitants: the Mayor (a surprisingly great role for Steve Carrell) and all the Whos of Whoville. Because “a person's a person, no matter how small”.

Really, it’s impossible to capture the charm of Dr. Seuss. He’s the Orson Welles of kids' books, with blazingly original stories and illustrations. His gentle philosophical ideas get burnt into the minds of the kiddie winkles, almost by stealth. The books themselves are definitive.

But the animation style of Blue Sky animations (Ice Age) is a pretty good fit. Unlike the more graceful Pixar CGI animations, theirs is suitably more skittish and disheveled in character. Just as impressive as the characters are the worlds created. The Forest of Nool would be a sweet place to spend a couple of days (lounging in the pond, or on the floppy grass, or climbing one of those craning trees) and Whoville is a fantastic ode to Seuss’ distinctive architecture.

Previous, God-awful, live action predecessors (The Grinch and The Cat in the Hat) are good proof of the difficulties involved with stretching Seuss to 90 minutes. Some of the additions here are irksome. For example; bits of the non-Seuss dialogue pangs the ears, a few of Horton’s pals seem to have wondered in from Ice Age, and there’s an odd segment which spoofs anime animation. But pleasingly those plagues on recent animated films – pop culture references, in-jokes and “celebrity guest voices” – are comparatively rare. Besides, the book is all in there by way of the film's major set pieces. By and large, the filmmakers find enough inspiration in the rich source material.

While the Seuss Classicist may groan at a few questionable diversions, I don’t for a moment think kids will give a toss. They’ll be (almost) as caught up in rapture as the Dr. Seuss reader.


The Peoples' Reviews

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BY Nicola lister

Finally they figured out a better way to do Dr Seuss in film form. The Cat in the Hat was a disaster, and wasn't entertaining for my 4 year old daughter (and if it doesn't work for a kid, then what's the point?!) let alone myself - a long time (and yes much older) Seuss fan. This was an absolutely fabulous production, that was as close to converting the gorgeous original artwork into moving pictures as it ever will be. Far earlier adaptions that were just plain old cartoon are my personal... More favourite - but as they insisted on adding song and dance to these (as they did with all kids productions back then) I couldn't really get into them. Not being a "musicals" fan.

If you were to imagine what a Dr Seuss world would look like if you somehow found yourself lost in one, this would be it. The animation is real, vivid, and dynamic - there are scenes where you can see every hair on the Mayor's face moving in the wind. Beautiful! The Seuss fish - (given little air time unfortunately) is just as he should be as are the truffula trees, and most importantly the architecture. Sticking to the original wording of the book (in voice over) was a good move too.

If I was to critisise, and I don't want to - because it really doesn't deserve any - here are a few things I didn't appreciate:

The vulture Vlad Vladikoff having his name changed to just "Vlad". Some PC move I guess.

The extra characters - the little friends of Horton - who don't look like Suesses at all - more like escapees from the set of Ice Age.

The Wickersham brothers, and uncles etc, not being given enough focus.

And I can't decide on the additions to the plot. The Mayor's family, Jojo being his son, Jojo's music bonanza instead of just the "yop" in the book etc. - though they work well, and if you didn't know the original book you wouldn't know they were additions - I just don't know. I guess I don't like an altered masterpiece - it's like painting glasses on Mona. I probably would have been happier with a 30 minute pure version of the movie, but clearly I'm not in the movie making business because I am sure that wouldn't sell to the masses.

In short - my 4 year old daughter loved it, and that's the important part!Hide


The Press Reviews

  • BBC

    Hollywood seems to have finally learned its lesson: don't turn Dr Seuss books into live action movies. Horton takes the far more sensible route of computer animation, and perfectly captures the scrawny, scruffy, floppy elegance of Seuss' drawings. Full Review

  • Charming, funny and great turns from a cast with no finger-wagging. But if you don’t like psychosis-inducing imagery, steer clear. Full Review

  • Tries too hard to act cool around the other animated movies, which, for some reason, still swear by the sardonic, pop culture-laden, celebrity-voiced, sitcom-cadenced corporate-speak that keeps trying to pass as humor. Full Review

  • Gorgeous and lovable holiday entertainment for the younger kids. This is just adorable. Full Review

  • Delightfully frivolous, but grounded in reality, this inventive animation based on the Dr Seuss story, will amuse, enchant and inspire one and all - no matter how big or small. Full Review

  • The real stars of the movie are the animators, who imbue even the overgrowth in Horton's jungle with a certain floppy Seuss-ishness. Full Review