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Dr Seuss' Horton Hears A Who

Horton Hears A Who

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

HORTON Hears A Who is the first Dr Seuss feature film to be fully animated and benefits greatly as a result. It’s a fun, colourful and endlessly inventive adventure that the whole family can enjoy.

Whereas the two most recent Dr Seuss features, How The Grinch Stole Christmas (wretched) and The Cat In The Hat (desperately uneven) largely failed to do justice to the beloved source material, Horton endears itself whole-heartedly to viewers thanks in no small part to the brilliance of the animation.

The film follows the exploits of Horton the elephant (voiced by Jim Carrey) who one day hears a voice coming from a speck that sails past on the breeze while playing in the jungle of Nool.

Discovering that a microscopic community lives on the speck, Horton undertakes to protect Whoville and its inhabitants by transporting the speck on a piece of clover to a safer environment. But his antics are frowned upon by the jungle’s chief kangaroo (Carol Burnett) who employs dastardly buzzard Vlad Vlad-I-Koff (Will Arnett) to put an end to Horton’s madness.

The team at Blue Sky (whose past hits include Ice Age and Robots) have painstakingly created two magical worlds that should enthral and amuse in equal measure. Nool, for instance, is alive with colour and potential danger, while Who-ville is full of zany characters and crazy creations.

Co-directors Jimmy Hayward (a veteran of Pixar, no less) and Steve Martino also ensure that the film zips along at a cracking pace, with several set pieces to relish, such as Horton’s show-stopping attempt to cross a rickety bridge, or his showdown with Vlad that ends in a clover field.

The characters, too, are nicely realised and almost all memorable thanks to the incredibly talented voice cast that has been assembled. Carrey, especially, brings a whirlwind energy and endless exuberance to his portrayal of Horton, while Steve Carell is excellent as the hapless Mayor of Who-ville, who must rally his community to participate in their own salvation.

But listen out for the likes of Will Arnett (brilliantly macabre as Vlad), Seth Rogen (on winning form as one of Horton’s loyal friends) and Jonah Hill and Isla Fisher as various supporting characters.

Just occasionally, Horton Hears A Who suffers from the odd over-indulgence or moment when the voice cast goes too far with jokes that fly over the youngest child’s head, but it still comes closer than most to matching the high standards set by the likes of Pixar’s Ratatouille.

And while some of the sentiment and message making towards the end is certainly forced and unnecessary, it doesn’t become as cloying as the likes of DreamWorks’ Shrek The Third. Rather, the emphasis remains on having fun throughout and it’s this continued ability to keep you smiling that makes Horton such an enjoyable (and recommended) experience for viewers of any age.

Certificate: U
Running time: 90mins
UK DVD Release: October 20, 2008