January 12, 2009

Horton Hears a Who! (2008)

Let me start this review by saying I've always had a chip on my shoulder when it comes to animated films by DreamWorks. Granted, I haven't seen some of their movies like Over The Hedge (which I hear isn't half bad) and Kung Fu Panda (which I hear is actually pretty good).

But Shark Tale was abysmal, I couldn't sit through the hyperkinetic, ADD style of Madagascar, and to be blunt, I feel the Shrek films are derivative, pop-culture-laden marketing tools whose jokes will be stale (and their films irrelevant) 10 years from now.

Such was my mindset when I rented DreamWorks' Horton Hears a Who! In addition to my lack of enthusiasm for DreamWorks films, do we really need another Dr. Seuss book stretched out to the length of a major motion picture? Mike Myers' Cat in the Hat, anyone?

Still, I did hear good things about Horton from co-workers and other parents, so I set aside my pre-conceived notions and pressed Play.

Plot:· Horton (voiced by Jim Carrey) is a carefree, fun-loving elephant who comes across a clover that blew his way - on which, he's convinced, is a speck containing the smallest form of life in the shape of Whoville and its occupants, including mayor Ned Who (Steve Carell).
· Since the inhabitants of Whoville are too small to bee seen, no one believes Horton's story - and no one more fiercely than Kangaroo (Carol Burnett). She feels that Horton is a menace, that "he has the kids using their imagination!" She begins speaking ill of Horton to the other animals in the jungle.
· Meanwhile, just like Horton tried to convince his fellow animals of the Whos' existence, Ned tries in vain to convince the people of Whoville that Horton is real (Norton's out of sight above the clouds of Whoville; Ned speaks to him through a series of pipes and horns leading off the speck [just play along here]).

Horton's characters are drawn very true to Seuss' illustrations - Horton, the Whos, and the Whos' houses and horns look like they came right off the pages of his book.

Carrey and Carell do great jobs with their roles, especially considering their interactions could have easily devolved into a "ham-off" of these two scene-stealing stars.

At its essence, Horton Hears a Who! is about acceptance, imagination, and the power of believing - as well as a good lesson in how ignorance and intolerance can breed a mob mentality. It also takes several jabs at how those who champion a cause or belief for the sake of "protecting the children" may not be able to think of a better argument, or they simply don't have a leg to stand on.

So yes, Dash and I both enjoyed Horton Hears a Who! And yes, I will try to approach future DreamWorks movies with a more open mind. In fact, Horton had me all the way to the very last scene - when they had to go and bust out a cast singalong to a cheesy '80s ballad. (It was only a few verses, but cheese is cheese.) Nevermind, though - it doesn't negate how well-done, how fun to watch, and how much of a surprise Horton Hears a Who! turned out to be.
[UPDATE/CORRECTION 6/25/09: I just realized that Horton Hears a Who! was created by Blue Sky Studios, not DreamWorks. My apologies to Blue Sky...though my opening opinion on DreamWorks still stands.]
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5).
What did Dash think?
· After learning why it's wrong to spread rumors (thank you, LarryBoy), Dash immediately latches on to anybody (real or cartoon) who is saying false things about somebody else. To wit, his first declaration while watching Horton was, "The kangaroo's all wrong! She's the baddest because she's the one who started the rumor."
· On a lighter note, Dash said that the funniest thing in the movie was when Horton's cute little friend Katie (right, who steals her scenes), says about her clover, "In my world, everyone is a pony, and they all eat rainbows, and poop butterflies." Can't imagine why a 5-year-old boy would find that funny...

Will your kids like it?
I'll answer that with another question: What's not to like? It's based on a classic Dr. Seuss story, it's a well-made film, and except for a couple of tense scenes involving a bad vulture and a mob of monkeys trying to cage Horton, it's (pardon the cliche) a film for the whole family to enjoy. Horton Hears a Who! is definitely one to consider for a family movie night.

Will your FilmMother like it?
Absolutely, and for many of the same reasons I mention above. Parents and kids will enjoy Horton, and for grown-ups it'll feel like time and money well-spent versus sitting through a lame, uninspired movie aimed at kids with no regard for parents in the audience.
Horton Hears a Who!* Directors: Jimmy Hayward, Steve Martino
* Screenwriters: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul
* Stars (Voices): Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Carol Burnett, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, Amy Poehler
* MPAA Rating: G

5 comments:

Kathy B. said...

Oh, I have wanted to watch this and now I will make it point.
Not liking Shrek so much ? Geez I love 'em all!!
But, I am a silly cheese loving kinda gal!
Love you,
K.

Gemma said...

Sooo, out of 34 flicks, you have only given four 4.0s. one 4.5 and one 5. You are a tough critic, FF! :) I gotta say, I haven't seen this one, but I have always loved Horton. Glad Dash is learning some good lessons from this movie and from Larry Boy. Good job!

creative-type dad said...

I don't know about this one, I got a little bored.
My daughter liked it for awhile but asked to leave the movie theater to go ride her bike.

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Horton Hears a Who! said...

It is looking to be great animated film. The film is Directed by Jimmy Hayward,Steve Martino with Jaime Pressly as Mrs. Quilligan, Jim Carrey as Horton, Steve Carell as The Mayor of Whoville.

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