Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
8 out of 10
Extras Rating:
8.5 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: G

Starring:
Jim Carrey as Horton (voice)
Steve Carell as The Mayor of Whoville (voice)
Carol Burnett as Kangaroo (voice)
Will Arnett as Vlad (voice)
Seth Rogen as Morton (voice)
Dan Fogler as Councilman / Yummo Wickersham (voice)
Isla Fisher as Dr. Mary Lou Larue (voice)
Jonah Hill as Tommy (voice)
Amy Poehler as Sally O'Malley (voice)
Jaime Pressly as Mrs. Quilligan (voice)
Charles Osgood as Narrator (voice)
Josh Flitter as Rudy (voice)
Niecy Nash as Miss Yelp (voice)
Jesse McCartney as JoJo (voice)
Shelby Adamowsky as Hedy / Hooly / Additional Voices

Special Features:
Disc One:
- Audio Commentary by Directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino
- All-New Ice Age Short: Surviving Sid
- Sneak Peek at Ice Age 3
- Deleted Footage and Animation Screen Tests
- Bringing the Characters to Life Featurette
- That's One Big Elephant: Animating Horton Featurette
- Meet Katie Featurette
- Bringing Seuss to Screen Featurette
- The Elephant in the Room: Jim Carrey Featurette
- A Person Is a Person: A Universal Message Featurette
- Our Speck: Where Do We Fit In? Featurette
- Elephant Fun: The Facts Featurette
- We Are Here! Game
- DVD-ROM Activity: Create Your Own Animation

Disc Two:
- Digital Copy of "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!" for Portable Media Players

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Language Tracks
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 86 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film is based on the 1954 book by Dr. Seuss.

Horton is an elephant living a happy and carefree life in the jungle. One day his world is turned upside down when his massive ears hear a tiny voice coming from a speck floating in the air. Horton discovers that the speck is home to a microscopic race of creatures called the "Whos". However, Horton is the only one that's able to hear them, thus making the other creatures in the jungle think he's crazy.

Horton begins a dialogue with the one Who that is able to hear him - The Mayor of Whoville. The Mayor informs him that the elephant's jostling of the speck is wreaking havoc on Whoville. However, none of the other Whos believe that Horton exists either. Despite this, Horton pledges to find the Whos' speck a safe place to sit so they can live in peace. But can he do so when the other jungle creatures commit to proving Horton's a menace and plan to destroy the speck?

"Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!" is rated G.

The Movie:
"Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!" is one of those rare family films that actually entertains the whole family. Not only did my wife and I enjoy it, but our kids were mesmerized as well. (This is the first time my 3-year-old son has sat still through an entire movie. That's a major accomplishment!) It's a perfect mix of jokes for the adults and silly moments for the children.

I have to admit that I've been a bit Jim Carrey-ed out recently. However, his voice acting was perfectly fit for Horton. Carrey's comedy combined with the CG animation of the elephant ends up being a great performance. This is especially the case in a scene where Horton must cross a bridge. As the CG elephant daintily crosses the rickety bridge, Carrey's dialogue helps make it one of the funnier scenes in the film. It was a great combination of voice acting and animation.

Steve Carell gives an equally fun performance as The Mayor of Whoville. Carell is always funniest when he's freaking out and this story gives him plenty of opportunities to do just that. One of his best scenes occurs when he must deal with his 90-something daughters as freak weather is inadvertently brought to Whoville by Horton. If you're a Carell fan, you will want to see this.

The supporting cast is equally strong. I can't tell you how much fun it was to hear Carol Burnett's voice up on the big screen as the snooty kangaroo. Seth Rogen also has some fun moments as Morton, the mouse. (His deep voice doesn't exactly fit a mouse, but it's what he says that makes him 'awesome'.) Will Arnett is almost unrecognizable as the vulture Vlad, but he provides a lot of laughs as the incompetent mercenary. Dan Fogler, Isla Fisher, Jonah Hill, Amy Poehler, and Jaime Pressly are also in the supporting cast, but they aren't nearly as recognizable as the other players.

The movie does depart from the book on occasion, but the key elements remain intact. Horton still loses the speck in the clover field. The kangaroo still tries to boil the speck in oil. The Whos still say, "We are here!". And a person is still a person, no matter how small. Die-hard Dr. Seuss fans should still be pleased with it. But many of the departures don't detract from the main story and they actually bring a lot of laughs. A group of jungle animal kids that follow Horton around provide some funny moments, particularly a yellow fuzzball that eats bugs and mysteriously disappears into the greenery. (My kids imitated this creature days after watching the film.) Then there's a running joke about Vlad (a bunny with a plate of cookies, not the homicidal vulture) that has an amusing payoff at the end. Overall, they were good additions. (I will say that the role of the Wickersham Brothers is drastically reduced from the cartoon, but it is forgivable.)

On the down side, there was one moment at the very end of the film that was a major black eye on an otherwise perfectly executed production. At the end of the story, Horton and all the other characters break into song with "Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon. It was wrong on so many levels. It broke the rather timeless feel of the story with an '80s pop song, the lyrics didn't fit the story, and it was just plain cheesy. They could have concluded the film a lot better than this. It was enough to make me bump the rating of the movie from a 9 out of 10 to an 8 out of 10.

This movie was fun enough that I think even if you don't have kids, you'll find "Horton Hears a Who!" to be worth checking out.

The Extras:
One of the highlights of the bonus features is the new "Ice Age" short entitled "Surviving Sid." In it, our inept sloth takes a troop of prehistoric scouts on a camping trip. Needless to say Sid's survival skills are lacking. The short is funny and features some great animation. It's a good DVD extra and a fun primer before "Ice Age 3."

The Horton related extras focus heavily on the animation and creation of the film. The animators are highlighted a lot in "Bringing the Characters to Life," "That's One Big Elephant: Animating Horton," and "Bringing Seuss to Screen." This is also the case in "Meet Katie," a featurette dedicated to the yellow puffball creature that stole the show. You really appreciate the contribution of the animators when you see this. The deleted scenes and animation screen tests are interesting and give you some insight into the creative process (both from the animation perspective and story perspective), but there's not anything particularly noteworthy here. "The Elephant in the Room: Jim Carrey" obviously highlights Jim Carrey, but Steve Carrell is only seen a little in the behind-the-scenes featurettes. It leads me to believe they'll do some sort of special edition in the future with more of Carell. Rounding things out are a piece discussing the "A person is a person" theme, "Our Speck: Where Do We Fit In?," an elephant featurette, and a game.

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