Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who (2008)

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In yet another big screen adaptation, Dr. Seuss' classic tale of Horton the elephant who discovers Whoville and his subsequent efforts to prove it exists is treated with an extended script, a star-studded voice-over cast, and vibrant computer animation. To transform a sixty-page children's book beyond a thirty minute animated special into a full-length feature movie requires a significant amount of original material, but this version of Horton stays true to the vision and spirit of the original work for the most part. The cast, which features Jim Carrey as Horton, Steve Carell as the Mayor of Whoville, Carol Burnett as Kangaroo, and Will Arnett as Vlad the vulture, is at times genius and off base. Carell is perfectly cast as the goofy, insecure mayor and brings depth and humor to the character. Likewise, Burnett and Arnett are superb as Horton's detractor and nemesis, respectively, both staying true to the original character and adding great original material. Carrey, and Seth Rogen, as Horton's best friend Morton, have their moments but are also distracting as Carrey goes way beyond what is necessary to portray Horton and is almost annoying at times, and the character of Morton is so clearly voiced by Rogen that it takes away from the unique environment of the film. The film is surprisingly very funny for children and adults, particularly for a G-rated movie, which is a credit to both the voice-acting and the writing. Original scenes, such as a short Japanese anime sequence, and original characters, such as the bizarre and hilarious Katie, are good for plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. The animation is stunning, up to par and beyond what is now expected from computer animation, and creates a unique atmosphere for the strange characters and events. There are many characters, small and large, and to watch them interact in the Seussian world many have come to love is great entertainment. Some dedicated Seuss fans may think too many liberties were taken with the script, which may be true, but this is simply another, more modern version of Horton for a new generation. Is it better than the original hand-drawn animated version? Probably not. But it maintains the fun and essence of Dr. Seuss to a great degree with many laughs and lessons for kids and their parents. Long-time Seuss fans will enjoy Horton for its faithfulness to the original, and those new to the wonderful world of Dr. Seuss will likely find much of what his dedicated fans have loved and more.

Good for: Seuss fans, children of all ages, the young at heart, a date

Bad for: mean people

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