The Screening Room
This has been a dreadful decade for Dr. Seuss. His beloved books were made into live-action movies that were filled with mean spirited characters and crass humor. The Seuss books never had those elements to begin with. Ron Howard's adaptation of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000) was cold, callous, and filled with venom. I'm still amazed with how much money that film made, for it had none of the charm of the Chuck Jones directed cartoon of the 1960s. Nor did it have any of the charm of Dr. Seuss's original book. "The Cat in the Hat" (2003) was one of the most mean-spirited and hateful movies I've ever seen. Racist, crude, and obnoxious, the movie should've never been made. That's how much I disliked it. I had hoped that no one else would dare attempt to make a movie based on a Dr. Seuss book again. But they did.

"Horton Hears a Who," now available on DVD and Blu-ray, at least makes an attempt at getting to the core of Dr. Seuss. His books (his real name was Theodor Geisel) were often cute and devoid of any particular nastiness. This new animated movie has charm and good animation. Yet it takes the exact opposite approach of its recent live-action brethren. "Horton" is almost too soft.

The story is simple with Horton (Jim Carrey), an elephant, taking the lives of Who people stuck on a flower in his trunk. No one around him believes that he's holding thousands of lives in his trunk (I'd say hands, but you get the point). The Mayor of Whoville (Steve Carrell) tries to convince everyone in his world that there is something bigger out there.

There isn't anything objectionable with this new Seuss movie. For a change, the filmmakers at least tried to remain faithful to the original material. The storyline and the drawing style is close to the original book. The film has an overall charm to it. The problem with the film is that not much happens. Horton walks through the jungle a lot acting strange. The Mayor is mostly a buffoon who doesn't have any connection with life around him. He's got the nearly speechless son, but that's about it.

The movie might've worked quite well as a short. The original book, as I recall, wasn't very long and told its story fast. The movie version isn't very long, but it seems like it is. The pacing is sluggish and there's not a lot of action. The animation is good, though it's nothing extraordinary. I did enjoy the short Seuss inspired animation that can be found in the movie. Those short scenes borrowed from the books and were animated with as much energy as Chuck Jones's "Grinch." A nice surprise, and plug for the "Ice Age" franchise, is a short film featuring Sid the Sloth. It's a cute cartoon diversion and it's included on the DVD.

The Dr. Seuss movies of the last decade haven't exactly been true to the original books. In fact, they've mostly gone in the opposite direction. "Horton" is a noble attempt to bring Seuss's charm back into movie form. Unfortunately, it doesn't hit all the right buttons. Where "Grinch" and "Cat" tried to please pre-teens and audiences who enjoyed crude humor, "Horton" plays it too safe.   
Bill Kallay

Special thanks to Click Communications

Photos: 20th Century Fox. All rights reserved.
DVD Quick Glimpse



Decent entertainment for little children, but older kids and adults might not get into it

Director: Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino  


Deleted scenes, "Ice Age" cartoon short featuring Sid, and more


Picture: Very Good
Sound: Very Good

The first Dr. Seuss inspired film of the 2000s not loaded with meaness and crass humor

Aspect Ratio (1.85:1)

Dolby Digital 5.1

December 9, 2008
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