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An elephant picks up a sound
From a speck that is floating around.
It must have a person,
Whose bearing may worsen
If some safer place isn’t found.
He grabs up a clover posthaste,
And that’s where the small speck is placed.
A kangaroo, though,
Says that he must let go
Since this nonsense is just in bad taste.
But Horton insists that the speck,
Though it’s too microscopic to check,
Has life to protect.
It turns out he’s correct;
There’s a town that might soon be a wreck.
The mayor of Who-ville discerns
Something’s wrong, and, from Horton, he learns
They’re smaller than spit,
So he freaks out a bit
But is nervous to share his concerns.
Horton vows to protect all the Whos
And guards them in ways that amuse.
As he goes on his trek,
His interest in the speck
That old kangaroo won’t excuse.
She sends out a vulture named Vlad,
(Not the bunny, but he who is bad),
Who steals Horton’s clover
And then drops it over
A clover field, flying off glad.
The elephant searches for hours
Through hundreds and millions of flowers.
He finds it at last,
And the Whos are aghast
That their world is much smaller than ours.
They finally trust that the mayor
Is not just a foolish naysayer,
But, as Horton leaves,
He’s attacked by more thieves.
This time the whole jungle is there.
Indignant, stiff-necked, and enraged,
The kangaroo orders him caged.
The Whos create noise
Out of music and toys
And the odd things in which they’re engaged.
Young Jojo, the mayor’s own son,
Makes the most racket of anyone.
With a “Yopp” loud and true,
All their sounds do break through,
And they’re saved by the kangaroo’s son.
The animals now realize
There are things far beyond their own eyes.
They sing at this news
And then help all the Whos,
Who are people, regardless of size.

It may sound odd, but as a poet, Dr. Seuss is my hero. His books helped to shape a generation, as countless parents read The Cat in the Hat or Bartholomew Cubbins to their children as bedtime stories, including my own. His poetry and art are iconic, and no other film captures his whimsical style better than Horton Hears a Who! Also, while I haven’t seen a few, like Robots or Epic, I think this film is Blue Sky Studios’ best work as well.

The animation is way beyond the original Ice Age, and, while not quite Pixar quality, it brings to life the world of Dr. Seuss, particularly in the town of Who-ville with its curved arches and buildings and fantastical unicycle devices. Despite some overly odd scenes, such as Horton’s anime parody or that little furry creature continually yawning, the humor is actually funny, which is more than I can say for some other recent comedies. The part with the Mayor at the dentist’s office had my VC and me in stitches. Plus, it ends with an REO Speedwagon song, so what’s not to like?

While Jim Carrey’s track record has been rather mixed over the years, his quirky impressions and tones are excellent through the mouth of Horton the elephant. Steve Carell is perfect as the Mayor, with his constant nervous groans, sighs, screams, yells, chuckles, and hollers. Plus, the kangaroo is made appropriately sour by Carol Burnett’s deep and threatening voice. When she demands something, one half expects to hear “Yes, Miss Hannigan.”

When you think about it, aside from an unnecessary joke thrown at homeschooling, the film actually has many good lessons: faith in something beyond ourselves, tolerance for others’ views, and, of course, “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Best line: (the Mayor’s wife, to her daughter) “No, you need to go to bed. Daddy’s having a breakdown.”

Artistry: 2
Characters/Actors: 6
Entertainment: 7
Visual Effects: 8
Originality: 5
Watchability: 7
Other (a few unnecessary weird parts): -4
TOTAL: 31 out of 60

Next: #296: The Day after Tomorrow

© 2014 S. G. Liput