Over the past few years there have been a few attempts to translate Dr. Seuss's tales from the printed page to the big screen. The first was the live action take on How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which was an entertaining if flawed take on the classic tale. Next was the abysmal Cat in the Hat, which is an affront to the Seuss name.
This third feature leaves the live action behind in favor of computer driven animation with its target being Horton Hears a Who. The use of animation would seem to have an advantage over the live action, with the ability to more accurately reflect the surreal illustrations of the classic tale. Now, having seen the film, I am pleased to report that it is easily the best looking and most accurate in tone and execution of the recent adaptation attempts.
Surprisingly, this is one the Dr. Seuss stories that I have very little memory of. Frankly, I am not sure that I ever actually read this one, as opposed to Grinch, Cat in the Hat, and Green Eggs and Ham. This ended up making the story much more fresh than it would be if I was a bit more familiar with it.
The story is a simple one. It espouses the mantra that "A person is a person, no matter how small." It is a positive outlook on live, recognizing the rights of all living beings regardless of status. In addition to the positive tale, I found the overall story to be well written and much smarter than I was expecting it to be. I liked the way it touched on issues of faith, imagination, and a right to life. It brought up these issues without feeling preachy, never digging terribly deep while still retaining a definite intelligence.
In the film, Horton (Jim Carrey in his second Seuss appearance) becomes the guardian of a clover, which contains a speck, which serves as home to all of Whoville. Horton, already something of an outcast in his home, becomes even more of a target of the righteous right, led by Kangaroo (Carol Burnett). He is attacked for his belief that there are living people on the speck; he is also ostracized for indirectly encouraging the children to use their imagination and have independent thought. This will not stand with the current regime, leading Kangaroo to employ Vlad the Vulture (Will Arnett) to "take care of" the problem. Of course, Horton stands steadfast with his belief and continues to protect the speck to the best of his ability, fending off the attacks from Vlad.