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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.45%
Worth A Look61.29%
Average: 29.03%
Pretty Bad: 3.23%
Total Crap: 0%

3 reviews, 13 user ratings

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Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who
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by Rob Gonsalves

"When you hear little voices, don't take medication."
4 stars

Carol Burnett, who turns 75 next month, is in strong, scary voice as the Sour Kangaroo in the new computer-animated "Horton Hears a Who." Her Kangaroo, small-minded and intolerant, sounds a bit like the recently infamous homophobe Sally Kern, only without the Arkansas twang.

Other than that, I’m not sure how much political significance we should ascribe to this tale, which began as a Dr. Seuss book in 1951 and was adapted by Seuss and Chuck Jones as a TV cartoon in 1970. The pro-life movement took up the story’s refrain “A person’s a person no matter how small” (over Seuss’s objections), while the Kangaroo’s cohorts the Wickersham Brothers have been read as Seuss’s slap at Joe McCarthy. A story that can mean anything you want it to mean usually wasn’t meant to mean anything.

The relevance Horton may have today is that someone hearing tiny voices no one else can hear isn’t necessarily crazy. In fact, such people most often produce enduring entertainment; Dr. Seuss himself, cheerfully rattling on for over fifty years in anapestic tetrameter, probably heard his share of Whos, to say nothing of Grinches, Loraxes, Ooblecks, Yooks and Zooks. The hideous live-action adaptations of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat reduced Seuss’s vibrant world to a speck of dust, but Horton plucks it up and rests it safely in its proper place. A bit too much on the frenetic side, the movie is nonetheless colorful and diverting, with a merciful lack of scatalogical humor or other depredations that would set the good doctor’s corpse spinning.

As the Grinch, Jim Carrey had to push his comedic will through pounds of latex; as the voice of Horton, he comes through with considerably more purity — Horton has even been rendered with Carrey’s heavy eyebrows and puckish smirk. Horton discovers an entire world inside a speck of dust, which sounds like he’s ready to ride the bus with Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, but never mind. The Kangaroo finds Horton’s claims dangerous. The Whos, who exist happily if uneasily on the speck, try to impress upon Horton the importance of a stable homeland — stop hopping around, you fool, and put us on a sunflower or something. The Kangaroo places various obstacles in Horton’s path, such as a mean but not terribly bright vulture and a pack of monkeys.

A first-time directing effort by Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino, who got their start in various capacities on several Pixar films, Horton teems with hip vocal talent ranging from CBS anchorman Charles Osgood (as the narrator) to Laraine Newman to, seemingly, half the Judd Apatow stable (Steve Carell as Whoville’s mayor, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill), and, once again, the husband-and-wife comedy assassins Will Arnett and Amy Poehler. The movie is awash in personality, especially with such unaccountably funny characters as Katie, a little yellow fluffball that hovers and says things like "In my world, everyone's a pony, and they all eat rainbows and poop butterflies.” Sounds like Steve Martin on a good night.

My favorite Seuss feature film remains 1953’s The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, so Horton takes second place by default, simply by virtue of not being dreck like the Grinch and Cat movies. Seuss’s widow Audrey Geisel is a producer here, too, so we must assume it has the doctor’s blessing once removed (she sensibly stayed away from Grinch and Cat). As we watch Horton and the hapless Mayor of Whoville on their tandem missions to convince their peers of each other’s existence, we realize we’re seeing the old story of communication updated to the can-you-hear-me-now age.

This "Horton" is about allowing ourselves to acknowledge and be moved by people, or perhaps concepts, we never even knew existed. Horton and the Mayor are happy to discover each other. Others are content to stay ignorant and unimaginative. When the movie comes out on DVD, someone should send Sally Kern a copy.

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originally posted: 03/16/08 15:07:52
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User Comments

4/06/12 SEAN DUTRA horton is good, but the who story is not up to par 3 stars
9/10/09 scotty I loved it. Thought it was sweet and great animation without it being cynical 5 stars
8/13/09 Dan Better than most live action comedies. 4 stars
2/25/09 brian Finally a good Seuss movie! Tremendous animation too! 4 stars
2/10/09 Dr.Lao A Jim Carrey movie that doesn't totally suck 3 stars
6/05/08 Jayson Cute enough for kids. 3 stars
4/23/08 Jodi I liked this one. I think it was very well done 4 stars
4/13/08 atthezoo YAWN 2 stars
4/05/08 stephanie willis my grandson enjoyed this one 4 stars
3/28/08 Ima Felcher Horton Feels Up A "Who?", More Like 5 stars
3/18/08 Rob Saw this with a 3 year old and a 5 year old. They loved it, and I enjoyed it. 4 stars
3/15/08 stacy berg this is cute for kids 4 stars
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  14-Mar-2008 (G)
  DVD: 09-Dec-2008


  DVD: 09-Dec-2008

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