Horton Hears a Who (2008) Review

Taking a small children’s book and making a full-length feature out of it probably isn’t a great idea (*Cough*GrinchThatStoleChristmas*cough*), but Horton Hears a Who gets it right. It stretches the story by adding in pieces that could have been in the book, naturally blending them in while still being wildly entertaining. A great cast doesn’t hurt either.

Jim Carrey redeems himself in the world of Dr. Seuss filmmaking (*cough*Grinch*cough*) as Horton, an elephant that discovers a tiny town of Whos on a speck of dirt. The Whos are a happy bunch, led by Steve Carell in fine form. Of course, no one believes Horton. Everyone in the jungle sets out to destroy the small world, while Horton makes his clumsy but best effort to save it.

Obviously, every moment from the book you remember is here. What’s new is Whoville, loaded with personality and a unique look. There’s far more to this town then there used to be, and the characters are fleshed out. The Mayor is as much a key player as Horton, and the city council plays a key role that affects the Mayor’s job as he warns of impending disaster.

Laughs are frequent, with numerous gags coming from Carell and Carrey. They’re abilities make them perfect fits for these roles. Physical comedy is added wonderfully by the animators. The film carries a soft, distinct look that separates it from the countless other anthropomorphic animal films out there. There’s even a hilarious parody of Japanese anime that comes from nowhere, but nicely breaks up the film to offer something different visually.

Horton Hears a Who isn’t a classic piece of animation, but it’s an enormously entertaining one that should appease both adults and kids. Fans of Dr. Seuss should be more than happy with how this turned out, particularly after how Hollywood treated some of his other stories (*cough*Grinch*cough*).

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

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As expected, Horton goes for broke in the video department, sporting a razor-sharp, super-detailed AVC encode. Colors carry plenty of pop, and texture comes through beautifully. Fur is amazingly rendered, and there are no artifacting issues to note. Contrast is perfect, creating a dimensional image that’s hard to takes your eyes off of. There are no instances of color banding or artificial enhancement. It’s stunning.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Likewise, this DTS-HD Master mix will work your subwoofer over in the best way. Bass is consistent and deep, loading the low end with plenty of opportunity to work. Surrounds are also nicely engaged, filling the soundfield regularly with sound in various forms. The finale with all of Whoville residents chanting “we’re here” is outstanding. There’s plenty of positional dialogue to go around as well, including some excellent tracking.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Extras will probably please the kids, and no one else. A commentary from co-directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino doesn’t get too technical, but it’s better than most of the extras. Three sections of deleted scenes (split into various levels of completion) are included, along with an introduction from the directors.

Six featurettes are included, and the only one worth watching is the eight-minute Bringing Dr. Seuss to the Screen. They discuss the challenges of taking the short book and making it feature length, while other features simply comes off as promotional dribble. Still, if you want to see Carrey in the booth recording audio, Elephant in the Room can provide. Another brief feature, A Person is a Person, discusses the message of the film in limited detail

Two featurettes for the youngest set include a global-warming preach fest, and another on generic elephant facts. There’s also a dull, simplistic memory game. A round up of trailers and a mildly amusing Ice Age short will keep your kids busy for about eight minutes.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

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