Horton Hears a Who! (2008)
Reviewed on 2008 April 10
Very funny (and charming) kid’s movie that won’t make a parent want to eat their own head by the second reel. Not only is it a somewhat faithful adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic, but how can you not but admire a family animated movie that can sneak in references to Apocalypse Now and Henry Kissinger? There’s lots of other pop-culture references in there too. This may be a G-rated movie but thanks to Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul’s clever script, it’s not dumb.
Horton (voiced by Jim Carrey) is a sweet-natured, slightly goofy elephant that enjoys his peaceful existence in the jungle of Nool, swimming and teaching the other children in the jungle his fractured version of earth science. Most of the Nool population think Horton’s a good egg, except Kangaroo (Carol Burnett). In the real world, Kangaroo would be the woman who goes out to lunch with your boss and gets him wondering about you by the first martini, but for our purposes here she’s a smug, purple kangaroo whose greatest horror is watching the children of Nool use their imaginations.
When Horton hears voices coming from a dust speck clinging to a clover, he’s amazed. Never one to dismiss anything out of hand, he starts talking to the speck, and realizes it’s a community… of Whos. I don’t think he ever learns exactly what Whos are, but the genial Horton doesn’t really care — he’s going to store their fragile spec somewhere safe. The Mayor (Steve Carell) is very grateful for Horton’s efforts, but can’t get his fellow Whos to take things seriously and prepare for a rough journey until they get there. Worse, Kangaroo catches Horton talking to the clover, and decides to put a stop to the nonsense once and for all.
The animation is just shy of Pixar-grade, and the actor’s voices matched wonderfully. I think it works because this one seemed to come from the pages of Dr. Seuss, whereas I couldn’t even watch the live-action Grinch. I also think the characters correlate with types we’ve all met. Most adults have worked for people like the Who councilmen, and I think every kid had one Kangaroo as a teacher along the way.
Three chocolate morsels.