Movie review: ‘Horton Hears A Who’
Vail CO, Colorado
The energy and zaniness of “Horton Hears a Who!” certainly do justice to Dr. Suess’s original tale.
Naturally, the creators take liberties with the adaptation, and although some of them are a bit quirky, quirkiness is and always was a cornerstone of the Dr. Suess spirit.
The CGI animation is spectacular, the script is, for the most part, hilarious and witty, and incorporates, of course, many lines verbatim from Dr. Suess’s original text.
Jim Carrey lends a turbo-fueled voice to Horton the elephant, who is a gentle and imaginative school teacher in a jungle full of normal and Suessian jungle creatures (kangaroos, buzzards, lizards as well as adorable, nameless furry beasts).
Horton is taking a bath one day when a speck of dust floats past his enormous ears and he hears voices coming from it. As it turns out, the speck is a planet to an entire civilization. Considering that it has gone adrift from the safe, stationary place on which it had previously always existed, Whoville is in mortal peril.
Horton makes contact with the Mayor of Whoville himself (another fantastic vocal performance by Steve Carell), who has 90-some daughters and just one son, Jo-Jo, a social outcast and self-inflicted mute, uncannily reminiscent of the kid from “Little Miss Sunshine.”
Anyway, the mayor would love to become one of Whoville’s historical “greats,” but has made no sweeping headway thus far in his career.
Of course, when Horton informs him that his entire species exists on a speck of dust and the mayor sees and feels the dangers of his civilization’s free-floating status (earthquake-like tremors every time Horton spins a pirouette), he’s unsure of how to break it to the town and the town chairmen, who prefer to lead the citizens of Whoville to believe their city is entirely problem-free.
Horton, meanwhile, gently places the speck on a clover flower and promises to deliver it to a safe place where it cannot be harmed or moved ” to a single flower that sits atop a sheer, spiky cliff (remember the remote home of the Grinch).
The mission, however, encounters some obstacles beginning with the upright and tyrannical Kangaroo (voiced by Carol Burnett), who is alarmed that Horton is speaking to a flower and making up lies about tiny people living on it.
She’s so disturbed about the possibility of Horton leading the children of the jungle into such imaginative nonsense, that she rallies a hit man (an evil buzzard by the name of Vlad) to intervene with Horton’s mission and destroy the clover and the alleged civilization along with it.
The Mayor has trouble of his own convincing Whoville ” and even his wife ” of the town’s imminent doom.
Although the animation and fun of the film will keep any child happy, the symbolic, historical and political implications of the material are also eye-opening to adult viewers. Issues like global warming and the standpoint some have of its non-existence, witch hunts and wrongful accusations, as well as the dangers faced by the world’s poorer countries and regions are just a few that come to mind.
Dr. Suess was a genius when it came to instilling moral value and deeper meaning into his creative masterpieces.
The message that rings clear in “Horton Hears a Who!” is that people and creatures of all ilk should be treated with respect.
“Horton” deserves its elephant-sized opening weekend box office earnings ” something upwards of $45 million. This is a fun flick for creatures big and small … you should see it, one and all.
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