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Horton Hears a Who - animated DVD / family and children's DVD / Blu-ray review
HORTON HEARS A WHO Rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Actors: Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Carol Burnett, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, Isla Fisher
Directors: Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino Distributor: 20th Century Fox
DVD release: 09 December 2008 Feature runtime: 86 minutes
(1 disc)
Format: Animated, Color, Full Screen, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Audio tracks (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround - English, Spanish, French), Subtitles (English, Spanish), Closed captioned, Audio commentary w/ directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino, "Surviving Sid" (Ice Age short), Sneak peek at Ice Age 3

In the Jungle of Nool lives an elephant named Horton (Jim Carrey). He's a pleasant fellow and easy to get along with. One day Horton hears a tiny voice coming from a little speck floating through the air (he has excellent hearing). Amazed, Horton catches the speck on a puffy pink clover flower and endeavors to keep it safe: there's a tiny city called Whoville in that speck. Soon he develops a dialogue with the Mayor of Whoville (Steve Carell), and Horton reveals to him that he exists on a tiny speck. Perhaps Horton's world likewise exists on a speck.

As Horton converses with the Mayor, he is overheard by those in his community. Morton (Seth Rogen) is a small blue rodent of some sort, and the closest thing to a friend Horton has. Morton encourages Horton to keep quiet about his little "friend", not believing in the tiny world. Horton maintains that a person is a person no matter how small. Kangaroo (Carol Burnett) can't hear the tiny voices, either, and believes that Horton's belief in it is dangerous to society at large. Kangaroo makes it her mission to stop Horton - to take his flower from him for the good of all. She enlists the help of Vlad (Will Arnett), a merciless vulture, and a pack of nasty monkeys called the Wickersham Brothers.

Horton Hears a Who! is based on the Dr. Seuss book of the same name, and it stays as close as it can to the original text. The basic storyline is kept intact, with some reasonable embellishments (the book is only 72 pages long and lushly illustrated, so some embellishment is to be expected). The characters, all computer-generated, are deliciously rendered and stay very close to the original drawings, or at least as close is possible when translating Seuss's pen-and-ink illustrations. The background items are reproduced with a Seussian aesthetic as well, especially in Whoville. If the musical instruments and vehicles and buildings and other architectural elements aren't direct copies of Seuss' drawings, they draw heavily from them. I found myself looking at the film elements more than paying attention to the plot and dialog, at least the first time I saw it.

I'm calling Horton Hears a Who! the best Seuss incarnation since Chuck Jones' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It's fun to watch, lush and beautifully rendered. The animation is clever and entertaining, the voice talent top-notch. While a film half as long could certainly tell the story, the added material doesn't make it seem drawn-out or depart from the original framework enough to bother me. Blue Sky Studios is emerging as a force to be reckoned with in the animated film industry.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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