Monday, March 17, 2008

Jane's Review: Horton Hears a Who


by Jane Louise Boursaw

Reel Rating: 4 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: G
Released in Theaters: March 14, 2008
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family, Kids
Runtime: 88 minutes
Directed by: Jimmy Hayward, Steve Martino
Cast: Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Carol Burnett, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, Isla Fisher, Jonah Hill, Amy Poehler, Jaime Pressly, Josh Flitter, Jesse McCartney, Charles Osgood (narrator)

SYNOPSIS: One day, Horton the elephant hears a cry for help coming from a speck of dust. In reality, that speck is actually home to the city of Whoville, presided over by The Mayor. Horton agrees to protect the tiny Whos, but his jungle pals aren’t so willing to believe in something they can’t see. Horton holds fast to his commitment, insisting, “A person is a person, no matter how small.”

Sex/ Nudity:
None.

Violence/Gore:
Mild comic action, including monkeys who attack Horton with bananas, then throw him into a cage and try to destroy the speck. Vlad the bird also threatens Horton and manages to steal the speck away from him.

Profanity:
None, although the kangaroo, monkeys and bird verbally abuse Horton. There’s also brief potty humor. Upon hearing that the mayor’s large family all share one bathroom, Horton wonders what a bathroom is.

Which Kids Will Like It?
Ages 4 and older who like animated cartoons with talking animals and/or Dr. Seuss tales.

Will Parents Like It?
Yes, there’s nothing objectionable here and the message is good: everyone is important, always keep your promises, and protect those who can’t protect themselves.

REVIEW:
This CG-animated family movie tells the familiar story by Dr. Seuss, a.k.a. Theodor Seuss Geisel. Horton (voiced by Jim Carrey) is an amiable elephant minding his own business in the jungle of Nool, until one day, he hears a tiny cry for help coming from a speck of dust.

Horton soon realizes there’s someone on that speck – and not just someone, but the entire city of Whoville, led by the Mayor (Steve Carell). If Horton doesn’t protect them, their entire world could be annihilated.

Horton’s jungle pals don’t share his enthusiasm for this weighty matter. In fact, they think he’s crazy for believing in something they can’t even see, especially Kangaroo (Carol Burnett), the self-appointed moral compass of the jungle who takes every opportunity to tell Horton what a dimwit he is. She even hires some thugs – Vlad the Bird (Will Arnett) and the Wickersham monkeys -- to work him over and steal the speck.

But Horton stands strong and vows to save that speck, because “a person’s a person, no matter how small.” He tries to put things into perspective for his skeptical friends: “If you were way out in space, and you looked down at where we live, we would look like a speck.” They don’t buy it.

Horton decides the best place for the speck is high atop a mountain, so he goes about the task of delivering the speck there. He can do nothing less, given his life philosophy: “An elephant's faithful 100 percent.”

Meanwhile, back in Whoville, the Mayor is having his own problems. He’s trying to convince his constituents they’re in danger, but the Whos will have none of it, preferring to believe everything is fine in their perfect world. The Mayor’s wife (Amy Poehler) stands by him, but she’s got enough on her hands trying to keep their 96 kids in line, including son Jo Jo (Jesse McCartney), a loner-teen with a good heart.

While my kids and I thought the movie dragged a bit in the middle, we all agreed it’s a colorful tale appropriate for all ages. The story strays here and there from the book, but I love that some of the book’s rhyming lines are incorporated into the movie.

Other voice talent includes Seth Rogen as Horton’s pal Morton the Mouse and Isla Fisher as brainy scientist Mary Lou LaRue, as well as Jonah Hill, Jaime Pressly, and Josh Flitter. To be honest, though, I probably wouldn’t have picked out most of these voices had I not known they were in the movie. Carrey and Carell are definitely the highlight.

You can’t go wrong with Dr. Seuss, a gifted wordsmith, storyteller, and philosopher whose stories always deliver a message. In this case: 1) always honor your commitments; 2) help those who can’t help themselves; 3) everyone is equal, no matter how large or small; and 4) we’re all interconnected, as is demonstrated when Horton tries to cross a rickety bamboo bridge while the Mayor is at the dentist.

JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Jane Louise Boursaw is a freelance journalist specializing in the movie and television industries. Visit her online at www.ReelLifeWithJane.com or email jboursaw@charter.net.

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