on June 24, 2010
When I first read this book,
I was just a tot. So,
I decided to see the movie -
And I liked it quite a lot!
I'll try to keep this short,
but I can't make promises here.
The movie is too great,
your children should not fear.
I know this book;
I can tell you the tale,
and here is that story,
in some minor detail:
The mayor gathers everyone
in town square
But Horton can't tell them -
he's really there.
All of the Who's and Who-ville
are unlike you and me,
They are people whom
we cannot see.
Of course, no one believes Horton,
which is sad -
the Kangaroo is making sure
that it will all go bad,
the animals rally around the kangaroo,
and they would say,
"We don't want Horton in the forest,
at all, to stay."
Horton's an elephant,
living in what we call "our world".
In the jungle of Nool there are animals,
young and old.
Who-Ville is on a flower,
and in it are all the Who.
No one can hear them but Horton,
but still, could you?
A great story, of course,
and as bad it is to say,
such examples of Kangaroos
can be found today.
I love this quote,
when Horton is about to fall,
He shouts, "A person's a person,
no matter how small!".
You should go see this movie,
I'm not afraid to tell,
the acting is great, the animation
is flawless, as well.
I won't ruin the movie,
but let me quote you this now,
although it's not in the book,
it sums up my review; how?
"I meant what I said,
and I said what I meant.
An elephant's faithful,
one hundred percent!"
Update 9/11/2012: I wrote this back in high school after we were required to imagine a Dr. Seuss book as a movie and write a review on it. The quote "I meant what I said and I said what I meant," is actually from the book "Horton Hatches an Egg" by Dr. Seuss. I wrote this. Sorry it doesn't rhyme sometimes! And, for those curious, I received an A on this project in high school, as my review was the only one that rhymed.
Not having seen the television version of Horton Hears a Who, I can't say whether this is better or not. But it's a perfect rendition on its own, and I found it thoroughly enjoyable---as did a 16-year-old with whom I saw the film yesterday.
There are marvelous Seuss-like characters animated on the screen, and their personalities match 100% those of the original two-dimensional Horton, Morton and friends who graced the pages of the good Dr.'s wonderful book.
My fondest memories of Horton include his egg-hatching episode. But that in no way diminishes the delight of seeing our old Elephant companion, dancing and prancing his way up a mountain side---through myriad obstacles---to a safe little cave where the Whos and their Whoville can safely reside.
Children young and old, including grandparent-variety kids, will love this delightful and colorful tale about sticking to one's highest goals, through thick and thin, and against the advice of all one's friends.
Dr. Seuss is like a childhood staple, and it is so wonderful to see the everlasting presence he has on literature, even today. With my unending love for the writer, I'm actually shocked it took me this long to actually see `Horton Hears a Who' but I finally did and I must say that I absolutely loved it.
The film follows the tale of an Elephant named Horton who is a beloved teacher in his jungle town. When he hears a high pitched cry for help on a tiny speck floating in mid-air, he risks his life and reputation to save it. His former friends and neighbors, spurred on by Kangaroo, turn on him and label him a risk to the values of their community. If you can't see it or hear it then it must not be real. Alas, Horton is an elephant, and elephants are faithful 100%, so he presses on in his determination to find that speck a safe home. It's a good thing too, since on that tiny little speck there is an entire world of Who's, tiny people living in a world where nothing bad ever happens. The Mayor of Whoville joins forces with Horton to save his people from destruction at the hands of the mean spirited Kangaroo.
Speaking volumes about acceptance, perseverance and the power of kindness, this wonderful film captures the heart and soul of Seuss and makes it perfectly accessible to your little ones. The films themes can be taken a few different ways (depending on your personal stance), which is quite possibly the point, but the obvious moral here is one that is universally understood.
I loved the animation choices; with rich, lush backdrops elaborating the worlds created here, and I really loved the inserts of Anime inspired segments and even classic Disney'ish moments that add splashes of color and excitement.
The narration is also splendid and adds a poetic essence to the film.
I really commend this film for `going there' without forgetting their key audience. This is an animated film FOR CHILDREN and it remembers that while crafting the sequences of peril. While there are moments of tension, nothing is so extreme that children will lose themselves in fear. As much as I love and adore `Toy Story 3' and many other animated films as of late, it seems all too common to forget that young kids are easily shaken. `Horton Hears a Who' understands the importance of maintaining a certain level of innocence; so when Kangaroo bows her head in shame and then, when prompted, returns a kind deed with another, you can sit back and feel content that this film not only entertained your kids, but it taught them a valuable lesson as well (without giving them nightmares).
The classic Seuss tale makes it to the big screen and I was very happy with the results. I usually find that children's books made into movies can be unnecessarily long and drawn out to make a decent movie time; therefore they tend to drag a bit for this big kid at the theater. I thought this one was great, a perfect length and it held the interest of my two year old niece who made her debut at the theater that day. When the movie was over she excitedly asked "are we going to watch it again?"
This movie has all the quirky scenery that you expect from Dr. Seuss; from the funky trees and crazy houses, to the wonderfully imaginative Who's, nothing disappointed. I was a little afraid to see this as Jim Carey usually grates on every nerve I have with his overacting and hyperactive persona, but he made a delightful Horton and I found myself enjoying him for the first time in years.
I recognized a lot of the voices and thought them extremely well cast; Carol Burnett as a villain was a surprise and a treat. My sister and I laughed out loud a lot throughout this film, we enjoyed it as much if not more than our kids. The lessons in Horton Hears a Who are simple and one can't help but think how the world would be a better place if everyone had a little more Horton in them. I really found the whole movie fun and this is definitely a movie I will purchase when it makes it to DVD.
Cherise Everhard, April 2008
on January 15, 1999
If you remember the monkeys shouting "Boil That Dust speck" you might be disappointed with this video. It is not the original animated short you remember but in fact is a 94 remake. This is more accurately, "Dustin Hoffman reads Horton". Instead of real animation it is still pictures from the book with minor animation effects. My daughter still likes it, but it's not what I expected.
on March 14, 2008
When Ron Howard's version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" was released in 2000, I was amazed at the artistry, with the world of Dr. Seuss being brought to life through whimsical sets, creative make up and costumes, and impressive special effects. But even then, it still didn't feel entirely Seussian; the limits of live action filmmaking were present from the start. Such a problem doesn't exist in the case of "Horton Hears a Who!" a computer animated cartoon that looks and feels exactly the way a Seuss story should look and feel. Of the three films made from his material, this is the first one that completely convinced me to believe what I was seeing. It's also the only one with compelling characters and deeper levels of story. This is wonderful because it tells me that the filmmakers had all audiences in mind, not just children.
"Grinch" alumnus Jim Carrey voices the title character, a happy-go-lucky elephant living in the lush jungle of Nool. On the fifteenth of May, his big ears detect noises from a speck of dust floating in the air. It soon lands atop a fuzzy pink flower called a clover, and at that point, Horton realizes that the noises are actually voices. It turns out that the speck contains the microscopic city of Whoville, the home of the equally microscopic Whos. Theirs is a world fully realized, a world of misshapen buildings and swirling clouds and wacky gizmos, all of which are perfectly suited for such a bizarre-looking population. The limbs of the Whos are a little too thin and lanky. Their stomachs are a little too round. Their heads are a little too big. This is exactly the way they should look--when it comes to Dr. Seuss, odder is definitely better.
Horton soon makes contact with the Mayor of Whoville (voiced by Steve Carell), who not only has a city to run, but also has his hands full with a wife (voiced by Amy Poehler) and ninety-seven children (ninety-six of which are daughters). The upshot of this is negative for both main characters. No one in Horton's world believes that voices are emanating from a speck, least of all Kangaroo (voiced by Carol Burnett), an uptight woman who only believes in what she can see, hear, and touch. Likewise, not a single Who believes that their Mayor is communicating with an invisible elephant living in the sky. It all basically boils down to belief--just because you can't see something doesn't mean it isn't there.
As the Mayor struggles to maintain his city--recently plagued by tremors and immediate changes in climate--Horton remains determined to keep the Whos safe because, "A person's a person, no matter how small." Unfortunately, he has to deal with Kangaroo, who finds his line of thinking so threatening that she hires a ruthless vulture named Vlad (voiced by Will Arnett) to destroy the clover. Consider the fact that Horton's basic goal is to keep a flower safe from harm: In what way does this pose a threat to jungle life, seeing as Horton never once asked for anyone else's help? Obviously, there's no threat at all. Kangaroo is merely a control freak, demanding that others believe what she believes without stopping to question the status quo. The Mayor of Whoville has a similar problem with his elected officials, who overstep their bounds frequently and with no apology. Apparently, they would rather die than let the Mayor postpone the upcoming Who-centennial.
In case I haven't made it clear by now, yes, "Horton Hears a Who!" is in part a social commentary. But don't sell it short--it's above all a delightful family film, and probably one of the funniest of recent memory. There's a sequence in which Horton imagines he's in an episode of "Pokémon," fighting off the bad guys with martial-art moves; the Japanese-style animation in traditional 2-D was absolutely hilarious. I also enjoyed the plethora of side characters, all of which add their own comedic touches to the story. Horton's best friend is a blue mouse named Morton (voiced by Seth Rogen), and his tail ends in an odd curlicue, as is appropriate for a Dr. Seuss character. There's also an odd but cute yellow puffball named Katie (voiced by Joey King), who tries to go along with Horton by holding a clover of her own: "In my world, everyone's a pony, and they all eat rainbows and poop butterflies!"
The most prominent side character in Whoville is the Mayor's only son, JoJo. He's a brooding young man who refuses to speak to his father, not because he doesn't love him, but because he's afraid of being a disappointment. He's expected to become Mayor someday--like his father and his father's father and so on--and this is something he just doesn't want to do. Little does he realize just how important he is, not only to his family, but also to the entire city of Whoville.
As good as these characters are, there's no question that Horton is the best thing about the movie. He's a funny character, yet his personality isn't overshadowed by pure goofiness. He's loyal to those who are kind, yet he doesn't reject those who are not. He's loveable, yet he's not forced to take part in sappy subplots. Everything about the big fella is just right, and the same can be said for the movie as a whole. "Horton Hears a Who!" is the best Dr. Seuss adaptation yet, and it will probably be one of the year's best animated films; it's funny, smart, heartfelt, and engaging, a welcome combination for a film that easily could have been just another mindless cartoon. What we have here is rare: A family film that both children and adults will love. This elephant really is faithful one hundred percent.
In the middle of March, with the kids out of school
In the heat of the day, `cos the tropics aren't cool
We were watching ....enjoying the cinema's joys...
When Horton the elephant first heard the noise
When Horton stopped splashing we learned that the sound
Came not from the trees or the stones on the ground
A small shrieky voice was appealing for help
But all Horton heard was a faint little yelp.
He heard it because of the size of his ear
So big and so wide and he knew it was clear
That the scream was attached to a speck in the air
We know from the tales that the scientists tell
That no speck of dust should be able to yell
So Horton the elephant quickly worked out
That some tiny creature was shouting the shout
A creature too small to be seen with the eyes
With a voice that belied its diminutive size
So sweet gentle Horton he rescued that speck
He placed it in clover, a small golden fleck
He pledged his protection, because after all
A person's a person no matter how small
Perhaps Horton bit off MORE than he could chew
When he crossed with the likes of the sour kangaroo
Who rallied the animals to go get the clover
To end his delusional rant, and moreover
To stop him corrupting the minds of our young
(This kangaroo chick was just too highly strung)
If you've read the story you know how it ends
It's good to have faith in the strength of your friends
There's no need to touch, or to see or to hear
To believe that there just may be people out there
Who'll stand by your side no matter the weather
And prove that we CAN make things happen together
It varies a little from Seuss's long verse
But watching the film, well, they could have done worse
The anime bit was a little bit weird
And the moldy old vulture had some kiddies scared
Carrey and Carrel and Carol are fine
But I don't think this movie is top of the line
I'll give it a rating of 4 - pretty cool
For this Seussian tale from the jungle of Nool.
Amanda Richards, March 30, 2008
on October 15, 1999
There was no tipoff in the Amazon description telling me that this video was only moderately animated. I remember a fully animated version from when I was a kid and this was not it. My little boy, who loves being read the story, didn't care very much for this.
Hoffman's character accents kept changing throughout his narration. The audio quality was muffled and sometimes hard to understand.
Personally, I don't understand why this format of animation is even used. Except that you can put your kid down and walk away, there is no heightening of the experience over simply reading the book.
I gave it a second star because it is a terrific book and the video presentation of the book can't be all bad based purely on the subject matter.
If the fully animated version is available, that would be my preference.
on August 26, 2008
AT LAST! A Dr. Seuss movie that is...Seuss!
Perhaps I should say, first of all, that Dr. Seuss was, at least the estimation of many, a literary genius--though, as goes without saying, of a special variety. There is good reason to suspect that his legacy will survive right along side of Mother Goose, the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen; with the passing centuries, his stories may well only become more and more synonymous with classic, timeless fairy tales and children's fables. He was ahead of his time in more ways than one, and what his editor at Random House has recently said of him is almost a truism: "What his books have to say about fairness, discrimination, peace, the environment, consumerism, and humanity in general is finding more advocates each year."
Was Dr. Seuss politically correct? In his beginner books, Dr. Seuss helps children to read by showing what they already know; he mixes a few hundred words from a child's vocabulary with phonetic nonsense words--while at the same time coining new words. He remains true to the fact that alphabetic language is not just a matter of phonics, while at the same time not putting on dreary airs that phonics has nothing to do with alphabetic language. He also tells meaningful stories without talking down to his readers; he tells truths that children can understand but ones which adults need every bit as much to hear. In 'Green Eggs and Ham,' for example, he reminds us not to judge things we don't understand, and that persons can freely be who they are--'I am Sam'--while at the same time not pretending a sweeping presumption that 'good' is purely relative and that 'right and wrong' are simply a matter of the situation: While oblivious to being bombarded by Sam's arguments--'Would you like them here or there?...in a house...with a mouse?'--the character still concludes: 'Say!...I do! I like them, Sam-I-am!...I will eat them ANYWHERE!' In 'The Sneetches,' he points out the absurdity of racism--but free of the hidden prejudice which offers equality as a concession--; 'that day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars, and whether they had one or not, upon thars.' Thars? And in 'Horton Hears a Who' (which invokes Seuss' all-important, whole language concept, 'who-ville'), he teaches that a person's a person, no matter how small--yet with the one still in the kangaroo pouch being that last to realize it: 'ME, TOO!' Political correctness may be defined as morality without any tie to truth. Dr. Seuss tongue-ties the most elaborate political correctness--in favor of the simplest of truths.
I've long been a fan of the cartoon versions of both 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' and 'Horton Hears a Who,' and, that being said, I also do think this cinema, computer animated version of the latter is the best "action" adaptation of Seuss' yet made. Visually as well as otherwise, this film somehow or another is unsurpassed in capturing Seuss--and I think 'Horton Hears a Who' is Seuss' masterpiece. Refreshingly, unlike some other movie renditions of Seuss--which have sometimes even seemed intentionally ugly (something not very Seussian)--: who-ville is simply who-ville, as Seuss-like as can be. A delight--and perhaps even something before only beheld in the imagination--even given Seuss' unique and distinctive illustrations in his books; certainly the best use of pure CGI I've seen (not overcoming, of course, its intrinsic limitations).
Yet there is also a curious dimension of the film, one which, perhaps despite itself, only goes to show Seuss' genius. The movie takes several liberties with the book, as movies do, but two are especially worth mentioning: In the film, the mayor of who-ville is made out to be the father of a big, even 'absurdly big' family--though of many many girls and just the one boy the mayor wants as heir--; it is the defiance of the baby kangaroo, living in Horton's own Jungle of Nool (albeit still in its mother's pouch), that, in siding with Horton, changes the mind of its mother, who then also finally realizes too that there really are tiny people in the speck on the clover. In the book, by contrast, the mother kangaroo changes her mind on her own, after hearing what Horton could hear all along with his big elephant ears--telling Horton that 'I'm going to protect them with you'--with the baby kangaroo merely echoing her. Curious here too is that the film even throws a punch against home schooling, having the narrow minded, prejudiced, kangaroo mother, speak on its behalf. What was the point of these liberties? To poke fun at big families and home schoolers? Yet these very twists also come together in the end, when in a special way it is just these children of the who-ville mayor, joining forces with the baby in the kangaroo pouch, that finally succeed in conveying the message that Horton tried to convey in vain: 'We are here! We are here! We are here! We are here!' Hollywood underscores Seuss' pro-life message? Curious...
Was that dimension already in the book, or not? The standard response of Seuss' widow: no. Was giving a different response the intent of the makers of this movie? That might be strange. So do we have here, instead, a sort of blow-back from a fumbled attempt to man-handle Seuss--and make him speak politically-correct-ese? Was this an attempt automatically foiled, like trying to escape from Chinese finger-cuffs by force, or tampering with a child-resistant cap on a medicine bottle?
Some people say that the masterpieces of Mozart or Beethoven or Chopin cannot be truly appreciated or understood unless you know the biographies of the artists, because art, ultimately, is self-expression. Other people say that if art is nothing but self-expression, then the best artists would and should never be appreciated or understood by anyone but themselves. Yet other people say that an artwork itself tells us something about the artist, and in the great, timeless masterpieces, that is precisely because it shaped and influenced the artist as much as anyone else who will ever have contact with it and appreciate it.
If Dr. Seuss' 'Horton Hears a Who' does not have a pro-life message, then nor is about McCarthy and 1950s' paranoia, nor is it about celebrating diversity in opinions, values and lifestyles--nor even about the Japanese victims of the atomic blasts, to whom Seuss evidently, in some way, dedicated the story. Perhaps it rises above all of these themes in the same way that Chopin's etudes rise above his love life. Perhaps, in the end, its simply about how carefully we are willing to listen. Whatever the meaning of the story (it seems to me there are multiple levels, and multiple possible interpretations), what does not seem to be left to a matter of opinion is whether or not "there are any whos in who-ville." The truth is the truth no matter how small, and a lie is a lie, no matter how tall.
By whatever Seuss-like crooked lines it took to get there, this is a very good film, and faithful enough to Seuss to at least make people--young and old--think, laugh--and really care that all the whos in who-ville shout loud enough to be heard...
on June 16, 2016
Dr. Seuss’s stories are simple, and their length is not long. His stories are short, yet their message is strong. They’re also spectacularly unsuited for any Hollywood adaptation, as unsuited as I am for Dr. Seuss rhyming and alliteration. They’ve tried it before with live action, and with Horton at least they’ve finally learned that lesson and left the prosthetics abandoned. To make a Seuss story work as a film you’ve got to stuff it with filler, and there’s plenty of that to be found in this new animated attempt at filming his masterful work. It’s a success as a movie, but it still isn’t quite perfect as a Seuss adaptation.
The fact that the movie is freed from the bounds of human actors and props helps though, and Horton Hears a Who! is nearly as visually creative and fun as the Seuss drawings it’s based on. It’s the story that occasionally misses, since they’re building a 90 minute film out of a book that’s really only a few pages. The core of Seuss’s world is there though. This is still the story of an elephant named Horton who discovers a spec. On the spec is a town called Whoville, and its mayor can hear Horton when he talks. Horton vows to protect the tiny spec and its inhabitants, and finds himself harangued and ostracized by the other animals of his jungle who can’t hear the Whos’ voices and so insist he’s a dangerous kook.
Jim Carrey, who achieved dubious success doing a live action version of The Grinch a few years ago, voices Horton. It’s a strange choice really, I thought the reason we liked Jim was for his facial contortions, not his vocal veracity. But he’s capable as Horton, sort of sappy and silly, which plays into the film’s mostly cartoony vibe. Funny is the name of the game here, and Horton Hears a Who! sometimes pushes the moral center of Seuss’s story to the background in favor of being wacky. At least though, it really is funny. The visual gags are entertaining and Steve Carell, as the voice of The Mayor of Whoville is both touching and hilarious. That balances out a lot of the unnecessary pop culture references, MySpace jokes, and Jim Carrey riffing which in a lesser film, might have sent the whole thing straight to the bottom.
In the end, they hang on to enough of Seuss’s smart, sweet message about the importance of life, tolerance, and standing up for what you believe in to leave the movie something substantive to wrap all that silliness around. Horton Hears a Who is fun and enthusiastic, but also sweet and affecting in all the right moments. If you can forgive it for a momentary lapse in the last thirty seconds which turns the whole thing into a bizarre, rock opera musical number, you’ll find a lot to like in Horton Hears a Who!. Dr. Seuss will always be better in book form, but Hollywood has found a way to turn his work into a movie without falling flat.