Starring: (voices of) Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Carol Burnett
Directed by: Jimmy Hayward (debut) and Steve Martino (debut)
Written by: Ken Daurio (“The Santa Clause 2”) and Cinco Paul (“Bubble Boy”)
When it comes to tapping into a child’s imagination, no one does it better – and with more creativity – than the late Dr. Seuss. Know for classics like “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and “The Cat in the Hat,” both of which disappointingly did not translate well to the big screen, Dr. Seuss’ books are bound to be adapted for years to come. (Not sure how you would write a screenplay for One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, but weirder things have happened in Hollywood).
So is the case for the 1954 Seuss story “Horton Hears a Who!” In the new CGI-animated film, Horton (Carrey), an elephant who lives in the jungle of Nool, is excited when he discovers that an entire world known as Whoville exists on a speck that is floating through the air. Worried that something will happen to the inhabitants of the speck, known as the Whos, Horton catches the tiny particle and places it on a clover (some type of Seuss- conceived flower) until he can figure out how to help his hidden friends.
One of the residents of Whoville is the Mayor (Carell), who realizes that his town is a lot more microscopic than he could have ever imagined. Although the Mayor cannot see Horton (they’re just too small to see something that big), he can hear him from time to time. Plus, with bizarre things happening in Whoville like spontaneous sunsets (Horton going into the shade) and tremors (Horton falling to the ground), the Mayor knows there is more to his existence that his (literally) small town.
Amusing for much of its runtime (like Stitch from “Lilo and Stitch,” the little Seussian character named Katie steals the show), “Horton Hears a Who!” offers up great voice work by Carrey, Carell, and others and keeps the pop culture references at a acceptable level. Kids might not get the “Apocalypse Now” allusion (although they might get the MySpace one, which is scary), but at least there are a few gems parents can look forward to as their little ones oo and aah over the colorful characters and fresh approach to all things wacky.