Horton Hears a Who! (2008)
Rated – G
Directed by Jimmy Hayward, Steve Martino
I’ve been spoiled by hit after hit from Pixar that every time I sit down to watch an animated feature, I expect it to be on the level of excellence of a Pixar film. As unfair as this might be, it’s a thought process I cannot shake. So while I enjoyed films like Ice Age, Kung Fu Panda, and Horton Hears a Who… they don’t match the quality of Pixar’s WALL-E. They don’t even come close.
Horton Hears a Who! is just another Dr. Seuss adaptation of a short story to a feature length film, so there’s no surprise that there are moments that seem long and dull. At least they didn’t attempt this story to a live-action like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat (two movies I loathe).
Horton is a clumsy elephant who lives in a jungle full of other animals. He relates more to children because of his naivete, but at the same time he’s seen as a nuisance from adults. When he discovers voices coming from a spec of dust on a flower, he comes into contact with an entire town, Whoville, and talks directly to the Mayor.
The Mayor has more depth in his tiny world. He’s the father of 96 children (all girls and one boy), tries to win over his only son to continue the family tradition of Mayor, and has trouble getting through to his happy-go-lucky town where nothing ever goes wrong. But Whoville is in danger and only the Mayor and a few others believe him. The problem too big for anyone on Whoville, so the Mayor looks to Horton to help out. Horton, the dedicated and sweet elephant he is, promises to do everything in his power to make sure Whoville is safe.
What I like about Horton Hears a Who the most is the levels the story works on. On one level, it’s a silly children’s story about how an elephant is trying to fit in with the rest of the jungle and the great imagination of Whoville. On another level, the moral is to believe in what you think is right, no matter how silly it sounds or how many people don’t believe you. It also demonstrates how everyone in the world matters, no matter how big or how small. And then another level hints at the idea of faith in religion and how seeing isn’t believing.
But on top of everything, it’s a wonderful story (should anyone expect anything else from the Doctor?) that will capture children’s imaginations and have adults wishing they still imagined things like this. This movie’s a pleasure for all ages.