Movie Review: Horton Hears a Who! (2008)

Horton Hears a Who! is number three of Dr. Seuss books brought to the big screen by Hollywood looking for a new avenue to draw cash from. This movie is slightly different from The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas though. Whereas those two films were really just vehicles for their manic stars to showcase their talents in (Mike Myers as the Cat and Jim Carrey as the Grinch), Horton puts the Seuss message to the forefront.

That message is, “Everyone, no matter how small, has a voice that deserves to be heard and a right to an existence”. Or perhaps in this political landscape it is, “No matter how big and powerful you are (U.S.A. Republicans), you need to be mindful of the little, seemingly insignificant guy”. Whatever it is (you can accept mine or come up with your own), Horton (voiced by Jim Carrey), a goofy elephant, finds himself stuck in the middle of it. “Why”, you might ask, “would an elephant find himself entangled in a situation like this?” It’s because of his ears. They’re so big, he manages to hear a tiny screech from a speck on a the head of flower. Responsible for that holler is the mayor of Whoville (voiced by Steve Carell). He’s a Who, who happens to be the only Who concerned about the strange occurrences happening around town (caused by the random movement of the speck). He’s convinced his only course of action is to protect the Whoville citizens by postponing the upcoming Who-Centennial until Horton places their speck into a safe location.

But both of them are having a hard time getting their assigned roles accomplished. The Whos don’t grasp the idea that they’re not the center of the universe or the concept of bad news. The mayor basically finds himself ostracized by his family and the community as he makes his case. Horton, on the other hand, is catching heat from the self-proclaimed law enforcer of the Jungle of Nool, Kangaroo (voiced by Carol Burnett). She believes imagination is the first step into lawlessness, so she sets out to stop him at all costs. This means bringing in help from the two “crime families” of the jungle – the Wickersham monkeys and Vlad the vulture (voiced by Will Arnett) – in an effort to reestablish her absolute order.

And so the story pings back and forth between Horton and the mayor as they try, up until the very end, to convince those around them that they are indeed telling the truth. It’s mostly cute and funny – Carrey and Carell both bring a refreshing dimension to their characters without overdoing it. I’d also suspect, Dr. Seuss would be proud to see his bright, vivid visions of Nool and Whoville recreated on the big screen. My only caveat is the similarities to the current political climate of the world. Sure, the argument can be made that Horton Hears a Who! follows the original Dr. Seuss story (with a few embellishments of course) and kids won’t be able to connect the dots without some help, but nonetheless, I don’t like it when these kinds of overtones are attached to a movie meant for children.

That being said though, kids will absolutely love Horton Hears a Who!. It’s colorful, silly and has talking animals – all mainstays to a successful family flick. And even though I’m not sold on movies preaching to my children (or anyone else’s), it does have a good message of tolerance. Could it be better? Absolutely. But at the time of this review it is the best full length adaptation from the whacked out imagination of Theodor Seuss Geisel.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
4 Star Rating: Good


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The Critical Movie Critics

I'm an old, miserable fart set in his ways. Some of the things that bring a smile to my face are (in no particular order): Teenage back acne, the rain on my face, long walks on the beach and redneck women named Francis. Oh yeah, I like to watch and criticize movies.

'Movie Review: Horton Hears a Who! (2008)' have 12 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 22, 2008 @ 12:20 pm Chrissy

    I think you’re being a bit too serious here. Drawing the conclusion that the movie has a political agenda is a bit of a stretch. Never, in a million years, would I have thought that a Dr. Seuss story needed to be scrutinized for ulterior motives.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      March 22, 2008 @ 12:33 pm General Disdain

      @ Chrissy

      As a parent, every movie you take your children to see should be scrutinized. Whether the movie is a Dr. Seuss story or not makes no difference.

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 22, 2008 @ 2:57 pm jordan

    Maybe Kangaroo could have been a little less of a bitch but I don’t think she was purposely written to be a big-brother Republican either.

    Me and my family thoroughly enjoyed this..

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 22, 2008 @ 6:57 pm Roland

    I agree with your point that parents are the responsible entity for teaching values to their children–there shouldn’t be any proxy to that. However, I don’t see the damage caused by a Dr. Seuss story whose moral is to teach tolerance and acceptance. Do you take umbrage with how it was presented or did something else set you off?

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 23, 2008 @ 8:22 am General Disdain

    Do you take umbrage with how it was presented or did something else set you off?

    The message itself was fine, I just could have done without the anti-conservative feel to it . . .

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 25, 2008 @ 5:01 pm Ojay

    I don’t know if I would call it a hidden political agenda, but there was definitely a message being preached. I personally didn’t mind this as it was not a bad message.

    It a safe movie that your kids will love. The only part I possible may have a problem is what’s a ‘blathering boob’? Is that just some kind of Dr. Seuss character, or is it what it is?

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      March 27, 2008 @ 10:06 am General Disdain

      @ sedu

      Not sure what a blathering boob is — but I doubt it is a Dr. Seuss character.

      @ soundtrackgeek

      Maybe (just maybe) with all the current political coverage I’ve become a bit jaded and am finding connections where there aren’t.

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 27, 2008 @ 7:22 am soundtrackgeek

    I loved this movie. It was just a fun film to watch, and that’s the only message I got. Also the music by John Powell was great.

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    April 9, 2008 @ 3:17 am Ojay

    REO Speedwagon’s I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore in the end hit the hilarious spot for me…it was quite corny, but in a corny fun way hehe. And the rest of the soundtrack by John Powell was great stuff!

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    April 9, 2008 @ 9:35 pm Magda

    Now i cannot agree here, because i am mad about Dr Seuss, seriously, i would probably eat green eggs and ham. Horton hears a who was a nice change from the Grinch, and the Cat in the hat had me deeply concerned. This one is a keeper though,Carole Burnett hasn’t scared me so badly since she was Miss HAnigan in Annie! lovely little bit of film, held tightly to the Seuss values. I have not a bad word to say about it

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    April 13, 2008 @ 2:22 am Ojay

    Well, I pretty much agree with your review here. It was a not bad movie that the kids will love and parents will tolerate. Carol Burnette is way scary in Horton lol. The box office versions of the Grinch and the Cat in the Hat were just terrible, but Horton Hears a Who isn’t in the same class as these. If you’ve got kids and they’re bugging you to watch Horton, take them to see it…it’s great for them and tolerable for you.

  10. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 13, 2008 @ 2:40 am Filemnoi

    The movie is just OK, the kids will love Norton the elephant and his friends, but I think the essence of this movie is hard to understand even by the grown people. Maybe the message is political but I do not blame the movie for this, I think we have to see this like a positive message and not a political one.

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