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Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!

Genre: Animated Comedy
Rated: G
Directed by:
Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino
Voice talent: Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Carol Burnett, Seth Rogen

Released by: 20th Century Fox

In Short: This Dr. Seuss classic book didn’t need a feature-film makeover, and the results are predictably overwrought.


What the Who?!?
Let the Story Be the Story, No Matter How Small
by Andrew Bender

As this film’s title elephant is fond of saying, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” The makers of Ice Age didn’t seem to apply this rule in transferring his story to the big screen.  

Some elements remain true to Dr. Seuss’s original 1954 book. Horton (voiced by Jim Carrey) is an innocent pachyderm in the Jungle of Nool. With ears to hear the tiniest of voices, he discovers an entire civilization, called Whoville, on a dust speck on a clover. Other jungle creatures don’t believe him, and led by an authoritarian kangaroo they threaten to boil the dust speck in beezle-nut oil.

Whoville's mayor, voiced by Steve Carell
Horton, voiced by Jim Carrey

Seuss’s book was good-natured, snappy and easily comprehensible to those with attention spans around the 15 minutes it takes to read it. The movie runs 88 minutes, which means roughly 73 minutes of padding. It doesn’t deepen our understanding of Who-ness to learn that Whoville’s mayor (voiced by Steve Carell) has 96 cutesy daughters and one moody, estranged son. Turning the kangaroo into a strident know-it-all is a waste of Carol Burnett’s voice talents. We learn nothing seeing Horton turn his ears into funny hats, or especially having the action break into in a Pokemon-inspired action sequence. And can Hollywood please agree to exorcise cliché lines like “I love the smell of bananas in the morning” and “Come on, guys. We’re all mammals”?

About the only thing that saves it is the overwhelming respect for humanity that flows from the original. If only the filmmakers had thought of audiences in the same way.


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