I was like "YEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!" and I started doing air guitar in a simulation of the chords performed during "Won't Get Fooled Again!" I was so happy! But then, arriving at the theater, I realized that I had chosen the wrong song to mime, seeing as how I had, indeed, been fooled, albeit not by my family's intention! It wasn't "Horton Hears The Who!", it was "Horton Hears a Who!"... and that Who wasn't Roger, Keith, Pete or John... it was Ned. In fact, The Who has no actual part of this movie (apparently making plenty from CSI spin-offs). However, REO Speedwagon does contribute some rock, so there is a classic consolation prize right there, no?
Luckily I managed to stay Happy after the movie got going, because Horton Hears a Who is really pretty good, lots of fun and even quite heart felt. This is no travesty like other somewhat recent adaptations, either. In short, the Kids are All Right!
Horton Hears a Who is an all CGI affair from 20th Century Fox. This is good because we're not dealing with another guy in make-up, but characters that look quite a lot like their drawn counterparts. In fact, the film is downright photorealistic. I know that sounds odd, as the characters don't look like real Elephants, Kangaroos and... well... I'm not sure. But the work of virtual light and shadow with CGI texturing make the characters look like toys based on the Dr. Seuss book Horton Hears a Who come to life.
Horton, the elephant, is brought to vocal life by Jim Carrey (I know, I know, a shock he would be in a Dr. Seuss movie about Whos) and he manages to do a very funny job at that. The idea of this philosophical, gentle teacher being a lumbering elephant is a dichotomy that works, especially with Carrey's humor and the Fox Animators throwing in some very funny impressions.
The saga continues when Horton, minding his own business, not teaching kids, nor hanging out with his old buddy Morton (Seth Rogen). Just then a tiny little dot caught his eye (and it was just about too small to see), but he watched it way too long... mainly because he heard a voice coming out of it. So Horton catches the "Speck" on a fuzzy red Clover and protects it... because the guy is 100% Faithful.
The problem is that the dichotomy is too much for the characters surrounding the H-bomb. Seeing a big, lumbering elephant protecting a clover and insisting that it houses a planet teaming with intelligent life is just... well, that's just crazy, isn't it? Soon, an area Kangaroo mom (voiced by Carol Burnett) starts going all Censorship on Horton, getting the townsfolk all riled up in the process, demanding that Horton give up the speck and stop being silly.
Of course, the big issue here is that Horton is right. That tiny little dot is indeed rife with intelligent people who live in Whoville, a town in which nothing goes wrong, partially because the Mayor of Whoville (Steve Carell) does a darned fine job, in spite of having a wife (Amy Poehler's Sally) and 97 kids to look after (including his heir, JoJo (Jesse McCartney). Being thrust around and vied for by everyone and their elephant isn't exactly a recipe for town harmony, so the fact is that things do indeed start going wrong.
Pretty soon it's a race for rescue as Ned (the Mayor) tries to convince the Whos that Horton is real and Horton tries to convince all the other big people that the Whos are real. The scary (yet humorous) vulture Vlad (Will Arnett) and a whole slew of Wickersham Brothers (like Dan Fogler, Marshall Efron and Tim Nordquist) help the Kangaroo to stop Horton's quest for salvation by seeing how good Horton's ears really are, by pitting Horton's skills against an entire Clover Field (hey... Cloverfield)! The danger can be pretty gripping, especially seeing as how it's almost impossible not to care for these guys. This intensity is the closest thing to not being Kid-Friendly that this film gets. And it's pretty mild, really. Aside from that, there are very few low-brow jokes and nothing that could be re-construed as "adult oriented"!
Of course things do get more and more intense as more and more voices from the current incarnation of Saturday Night Live show up. In addition to those, you might recognize Laraine Newman (formerly of SNL), Jaime Pressly and Charles Osgood's voices in the crowd.
And while not all of the script by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio is straight out of Seuss, I can pretty well tell you that, as a fan, there isn't much, if anything, that old Theodore Geisel would object to.
That said, Horton Hears a Who does slow down a bit in parts (though never to a crawl) and manages to feel almost padded out to its 88 minute run time. Luckily directors Steve Martino and Jimmy Hayward throw enough fun in to keep everyone interested. Of course the Speck isn't going to get boiled... we all know this... but does this matter? By the point of the climax, we're all so interested in these characters that we just want to see how it all gets resolved.
Sure it's not all Seuss, yes, that matters... but it's still very good and worth Four Stars out of Five! Yes. That's the fact. I meant what I said and I said what I meant! Never forget, an Elephant's Faithful 100%, and a Person's a Person no matter how small. You've got to love Seuss... his Weird imagination was just enchanting. And his Wubbulous World is still very much alive and well, like Whoville is, today. See you Whos in the next reel... I'm going to go listen to Live at Leeds!
Whoville is no Teenage Wasteland
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Might get you closer to a Literary Nadir!
Who... will take me up on that?
Do the words "CLOVERFIELD" mean anything to you? (Not the monster... a frustrating field of Clovers, only one of which has Planet Who on it).
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