Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

We are Here! We are Here! We are Heeeeerrrreeee! Yep, if you were a kid in the 1970’s those were some classic words right there while we sat in front of our Television sets watching Dr. Seuss’s animated version of his children’s story ‘Horton Hears a Who’, along with other fondly remembered animated versions of those Dr. Seuss books. Now we all know the big money machine that is the Hollywood Studio will try to squeeze a buck out of just about anything, and they have tried to wring cash out of Dr. Seuss by butchering ‘The Cat in the Hat’ and ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ with a couple of abysmal live action films. Well if persistence is a virtue then those cats in Hollywood are quite virtuous because they are attempting to give it one more try, this time opting for the CGI route with Fox Pictures rendition of ‘Horton Hears a Who’. Rest easy Dr. Seuss because at least this time they didn’t screw it up.

Voiced by Jim Carey, Horton is an the ever eager, always playful elephant who serves as an educator for the children of the jungle in which he resides, when one day he thinks he hears a sound. Horton passes it off as nothing but then he hears it again as a speck floats by his ear and now Horton is convinced that there are voices coming out of the speck, which he barely saves from being engulfed in a lake by having it land safely on a clover. Now Horton has taken to talking to this clover, though his good friend Morton the Mouse (Seth Rogen) has advised that such behavior could be perceived as insanity. The Queen of this particular jungle is Kangaroo (Carol Burnett) who is a rabble rousing busybody who fears that Horton speaking to this imaginary speck of his could lead to the children of the jungle using to their imaginations, thus sparking free thought and ultimately anarchy.

Deep within the speck is the town of Whoville, a perfect little place in which nothing ever goes wrong. Unfortunately the Mayor of Whoville (Steve Carell) senses something is wrong in his little town with the sudden weather changes and the minor

seismic shifts that are occurring all too frequently. He attempts to tell the council of these issues but they just call him nasty names and remind him he’s just a figure head, but then he hears the voice of Horton. Similar to Horton’s issues on the outside, the Mayor is attempting to make the Whovillians believe that there is a giant elephant in the sky talking to him and that their world is in grave danger, but the poor mayor’s warnings are falling on deaf ears. Now both the Mayor and Horton are in a heap of trouble as Kangaroo has determined Horton to be a menace to the children of the jungle and that the clover housing the speck has to be destroyed, while the Mayor has the daunting task of convincing the irrepressible people of Whoville to help him convince those who unknowingly want to do them harm, that they do indeed exist. A person is person no matter how small.

If you have children and you’ve read them a Dr. Seuss book you know that it takes all of about five minutes to get through it. These things are about twenty pages long, filled with big colorful pictures and even bigger monosyllabic words. There’s not nearly enough material in Dr. Seuss books, as they stand, to create a feature length film. The challenge then becomes how in the world are the ‘creatives’ going to pad the story in an entertaining way so that it last at least 80 minutes? Well with two previous attempts at bringing Doc to the big screen, they said loud and clear ‘we can’t do it’. This time out however the results were better by an amount that is almost unquantifiable. Unlike those previous films it feels with this movie that directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino, working off a script penned Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, creatively stayed within the confines of the imaginary world that Dr. Seuss created. The results were a story that didn’t feel like it had a lot extraneous nonsense or mindless padding but a lengthened story that could have been written by Dr. Seuss himself.

Naturally the animation is top notch as we have come to expect from these large budget Hollywood CGI features with the 3D characters looking every bit like the 2D characters we watched on TV and read in the books, and the voice acting was superb. Often I’ve wondered why dispense major coin to an A-list actor to do voice work for an animated feature when most times there’s nothing distinguishable that that particular actor brings to the table than say an anonymous Broadway actor could do, and probably do better. This time however I believe that the much maligned Jim Carrey brought an improvisation to Horton’s dialog that only someone like him could accomplish, resulting in the humanizing of our animated elephant and giving him a lot of heart. Seth Rogen as the voice of the mouse was nothing less than inspired.

It’s rare, but it does happen on occasion when a remake of a much beloved story equals, and in some part surpasses the original. I don’t know if this new version of ‘Horton Hears a Who’ can ever take the place of the original in my childhood heart, but for a new generation of kids, I don’t think they would miss that original animated show one little bit after seeing this incredibly well done remake. And I hate remakes.

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