"Horton Hears a Who" has all the trappings of a big budget feature gone awry. It has a celebrity star studded cast providing the voice talent to a classic tale that runs twenty minutes too long and wraps itself up with a crowd pleasing pop song at the end. Perhaps there's something in its springtime color palette that oozes to life in every frame, but this latest incarnation of "Horton Hears a Who" turns out to be not so bad, but quite good in fact at times and carries animated Sueesian delight to a new high water mark for new and old fans.
The fantasies of Dr. Suess books have been adapted many times over the years, with varying degrees of success. From the abysmal live-action "Cat in the Hat" to the genius of Boris Karloff's narrated Grinch classic. And while Dr. Suess puppets on computer generated backgrounds explored by the Henson team was pretty Wubbulous, the latest "Horton Hears a Who" imagining brings the Suess-ian mythos into a new realm of 3D rendered goodness.
And who could have imagined Whoville looking so good? The topsy turvy town appears to be made out of a magical polygon based clay, sculpted into a world rich and deserving of its heritage. East coast based Blue Sky Studios continues to flex its capabilities as a top shelf animation company that challenges its rivals out west.
While Horton's pace definitely lags at times, as it struggles to stretch the original 20 something pages into ninety minutes, detours such as the slip into one of Hortons daydreams as a 2D anime style Kung-Fu cartoon....or the brief glimpse of some original Suess drawn characters animating for a few moments make for worthwhile distractions while the plot meanders.
Even the celebrity filled casting fits the bill and it seems like you're watching that guy from the Office only for a few moments with Steve Carrell as the mayor of Whoville. Jim Carrey comes up with a likable goofy performance that suits Horton and counters the sourness in Carol Burnett's portrayal of the busy body kangaroo.
The McCarthy era politics that influenced Theodore Geisel when he penned Horton are still present, and can be heard with its strong, speak up for what you believe in message. Horton's lessons about the dangers of mob-think are as relevant now as they were in 1954 and I hope the movie motivates viewers into becoming Suess readers to discover the rest of his works.
Looking forward to a return trip to Whoville, for Movie Magazine, this is Purple.
© 2009 - Purple - Air Date: 3/12/08
Horton Hears a Who!
USA - 2008