Movie Review for Horton Hears a Who (2008)

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Review #621 of 365
Movie Review of Horton Hears a Who (2008) [G] 88 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $12.75
Where Viewed: United Artists Colorado Center 9 & IMAX, Denver, CO
When Seen: 14 March 2008
Time: 9:30 am
DVD Release Date: 9 December 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer

Soundtrack: order the CD below

Directed by: Jimmy Hayward (debut) and Steve Martino (debut)
Written by: Ken Daurio (The Santa Clause 2) • Cinco Paul (The Santa Clause 2) based on the book by Dr. Seuss

Featured Voice Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Jim Carrey (The Number 23) • Steve Carell (Dan in Real Life) • Carol Burnett ("The Carol Burnett Show") • Will Arnett (Semi-Pro) • Seth Rogen (The Spiderwick Chronicles) • Dan Fogler (Good Luck Chuck) • Isla Fisher (Hot Rod) • Jonah Hill (Strange Wilderness) • Amy Poehler (Mr. Woodcock) • Jaime Pressly ("My Name is Earl") • Charles Osgood ("CBS News Sunday Morning" ) • Josh Flitter (License to Wed) • Niecy Nash (Code Name: The Cleaner) • Jesse McCartney (Alvin and the Chipmunks)

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
Click to see photos from the Premiere of Horton Hears a Who
Click to read the spoiler points for Horton Hears a Who
What a great idea to render Dr. Seuss's classic children's story into a CGI animated film at a time when the political landscape couldn't be more tolerant—that was unintentionally overly sarcastic. At its core, Horton Hears a Who the story is simple. An elephant named Horton, discovers a small civilization inhabiting a speck of dust which he catches on a pink clover and then nurtures toward a place of permanent survival. Sounds pretty good until the grown ups get involved. Yeah, grown ups seem to ruin everything don't they? Both in the story itself where a matronly self-important Kangaroo controls the peaceful jungle where Horton bides his time, and in the real world when grown-up political agendas clash with the simplicity of a children's story designed, it seems, to teach not only tolerance and understanding of all that which still mystifies us, but of each other "no matter how small."

… the best film for kids this spring break…
This geo-political irony is one which Dr. Seuss, himself, might have thought curious, though he probably anticipated this fall out down the road from when he wrote it. And, probably nothing could be more interesting than Right To Lifer's appearing at early screenings popping up to shout their propaganda at the end of the film. This when the film seems to poke its nose at home-schooling and antiquated values of the past. Aren't these groups supposed to be on the same side?

Nonetheless, focusing in on the film and marvelous voice cast and setting the political baggage aside, co-directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino have literally brought this beloved story to life with incredible style. The animation pops—still not quite Pixar quality, but close. The characterizations from the impeccable recreation of Whoville to the rivers and jungle that Horton calls home, everything is expansive and impressive. The creativity and imagination of the animators involved whistles vibrantly building a stunning tribute to the illustrations that made the Seuss world a place specifically for children. As a cautionary note for parents and guardians of younger children (younger than 5) the film has some frightening elements where both Horton and all of Whoville are in imminent danger, and the 'reality' of the film brings these to life far more vividly than the book. There are quite a few nasty and mean characters in the film from the nearly puritanical Kangaroo (voiced by Carol Burnett) to her minions and sidekick the vulture Vlad (voiced by Will Arnett) to the obnoxious town council of Whoville who doubts the Mayor's conclusion that Whoville is in peril.

As far as the voice cast goes, unfortunately, Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, and Carol Burnett are possibly too recognizable in these characters as to be a distraction for older audiences. If you can get past this, though, they are mostly very good.

Horton Hears a Who will reign at the box office as the best film for kids this spring break, and stand tall as the best animated film of the year, until Wall-E comes out in June. After that, all bets are off and once again the Ice Age people may find themselves way behind the Pixar curve again.

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Related Products from
Other Projects Featuring Horton Hears a Who (2008)
Cast Members
Jim CarreySteve CarellCarol Burnett
Will ArnettSeth RogenDan Fogler
Isla FisherJonah HillAmy Poehler
Jaime PresslyJesse McCartneyJosh Flitter
Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino
Ken DaurioCinco Paul
CD Soundtrack

Review-lite Horton Hears a Who (2008) [max of 150 words]
A political powder keg, the Jimmy Hayward / Steve Martino adaptation of Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears a Who can be seen as incredibly compelling given the geopolitical landscape of today. When it comes to being a great series of moral lessons for kids, it scores high—though it should be noted that the film is somewhat scary and load with scenes of Horton and Whoville in danger. It might be too scary for children under 5 years old—parents and guardians might want to see it alone first. Brilliant animation and a great story help make for a dynamic and fun film that works well on many levels.

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1 comment:

patrick said...

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.