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Movie Review: Horton Hears a Who

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"A person's a person, no matter how small."

This Dr. Seuss film adaptation fills the screen with amazing animation backed by an all-star cast of eclectic comedians who make the most of their roles.

Jim Carrey voices Horton the elephant with great comic timing. Horton's great hearing abilities help him discover Whoville, which exists on a tiny speck. Horton definitely thinks out of the box, matching Carrey's persona perfectly, as his connection to the tiny inhabitants of Whoville grows stronger. Steve Carell (Dan in Real Life) voices The Mayor of Whoville who develops a special communicative bond with Horton. This dynamic duo produces humor with heart, creating the film's great, all age appeal.

The mayor must address some family issues (anyone with more than 90 daughters would have challenging issues). The mayor also has a reclusive son, JoJo (Jesse McCartney) who represents the next in line for a proud family tradition of mayors. Amy Poehler (Blades of Glory, Saturday Night Live) voices the Mayor's wife, Sally. She supports him throughout constant agitation from the Whoville city council, who refutes Horton's existence.

In the parallel storyline, Horton must fight similar slander from other creatures of his homeland as he tries to save the tiny community of Whoville. Leading the charge against Horton's antics is an antagonistic kangaroo (Carol Burnett) and Vlad the vulture (Will Arnett, Arrested Development).

Luckily the two leads get by with a little help from their friends. Seth Rogen (Knocked Up) plays Horton's buddy, Morton, and Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers) voices Dr. Mary Lou Larue, a scientific expert who helps the Mayor fully understand Whoville's current physical state.

Filmmakers recruit other comedians known for edgy humor to complete the supporting cast. An almost unrecognizable Jamie Pressly (My Name is Earl) voices Mrs. Quilligan, and Jonah Hill (Superbad) voices Tommy. Animated voice veteran, Jack Angel, provides several character voices, while CBS newsman, Charles Osgood, handles the narration duties very well. His deep voice booms through a short, but fulfilling storyline adapted from the book of the same name.

Chris Wedge (Ice Age) co-produced this colorful experience while Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino direct – a typical teamwork strategy in computer animated feature films. This talented team, combined with a huge crew, makes a nice transition from the live action adaptations while still appealing to adults. The first Whoville sequence is one of the best animated introductions ever. The camerawork flows as well as the smooth animation. Too bad this animated approach wasn't taken at the start of the film adaptations.

The freedom and creativity from the animation eliminates the constant need for too many jokes in the live action Cat in the Hat and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, which also starred Carrey. These previous adaptations included largely unrelated pop culture references and improvisational humor from the male leads to boost the short source material.

The improvisations remain while the screenwriting team of Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul (College Road Trip, The Santa Clause 2) injects stronger related story points that can really connect with audiences. The animation style even mixes the classic Dr. Seuss book illustrations and a hilarious Japanese style animation sequence based in Horton's imaginative mind. Maybe filmmakers will "reboot" the live action installments later using this same outstanding animation. I will be surprised if this film doesn't get an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Film.

Carrey and Carell perform a musical encore at the end of this enjoyable one hour and 28 minute film. It comes highly recommended and is rated G.

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  • patrick

    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.