© 2008 Ray Wong
Based on Dr. Seuss's beloved tale, Horton Hears a Who! is a fun romp with a simple message: "A person is a person no matter how small."
Horton (Jim Carrey) is a fun-loving, carefree elephant who never forgets. One day while frolicking in the jungle, he hears a voice. At first he thinks he's imagining things, but soon he realizes there's a whole civilization living on a speck resting on a clover.
The civilization is the Whos, led by the Mayor of Whoville (Steve Carell). The Mayor is a happy-go-lucky guy, whose only dream is to become one of the great mayors, and for his son Tommy (Jonan Hill) to succeed him. When he hears Horton talking to him through a pipe, the Mayor realizes they're not alone. There's a whole new world outside of their universe, and Whoville is in danger of being obliterated if Horton can't find the speck a safe place to settle. Try as he may, Horton has a difficult time convincing his community, led by Kangaroo (Carol Burnett), that the Whos exist. It's up to Horton alone to protect the Whos.
As the lovable elephant who always gives 100% and never forgets, Jim Carrey (The Number 23) lends his energetic and charismatic voice that really brings the character to life. At once sincere, goofy, scatter-brained and simply darn cute, Carrey's performance, paired with his wonderfully animated counterpart, is really fun to watch and hear. Steve Carell (Dan in Real Life) also does a good job as the Mayor of Whoville, even though he's overshadowed by Jim Carrey.
It's delightful to "hear" Carol Burnett (Once Upon a Mattress) again. She gives one of the most spirited performances in the film as the unbelieving Kangaroo who is determined to destroy the speck to teach Horton a lesson. Will Arnett (Ratatouille) has a great time playing Vlad, a vulture with an identity crisis. The rest of the voice cast includes Seth Rogen (Knocked Up) as Horton's rodent friend Morton, and Amy Poehler (Baby Mama) as Sally O'Malley.
Dr. Seuss's timeless tale of belief is wittily adapted by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul (The Santa Clause 2). The dialogue is rapid-fire at times and full of charm and humor. The story is straightforward enough that even small children can understand. Also, they're able to limit the cast of characters to a few main ones (despite the fact that the Mayor has 98 daughters and one son). There are a few places where the dialogue, action, and drama lag and the audience, especially the younger ones, may feel bored. However, the story picks up its pace and snowballs toward the crowd-pleasing finale.
Directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino are able to keep a balance between the frenetic nature of the tale and the softer moments, making it entertaining to both the kids and their parents. There are times the pace becomes so fast that I feel a bit lost. Even so, the animation makes up for everything -- it's colorful, beautiful and imaginative. They really bring Dr. Seuss's fantastical worlds to life, especially the whimsical Whoville with its unique details.
With its unique and colorful characters, a good central message that doesn't feel preachy, and vibrant and imaginative CG animation, the movie is a joy for the entire family. So listen, and listen well -- you may hear a Who, too!
Stars: Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Carol Burnett, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, Dan Fogler, Isla Fisher, Jonan Hill, Amy Poehler
Directors: Jimmy Hayward, Steve Martino
Writers: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul (based on book by Dr. Seuss)
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Script – 7
Performance – 7
Direction – 7
Animation – 8
Editing – 8
Production – 8
Total – 7.4 out of 10