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|Horton Hears a Who!|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Jimmy Hayward, Steve Martino|
scr Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul
voices Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Carol Burnett, Seth Rogen, Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, Isla Fisher, Dan Fogler, Jaime Pressly, Dane Cook, Jonah Hill, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
release US 14.Mar.08, UK 21.Mar.08
08/US Fox 1h26
I can't see you: Horton
Based on the classic Dr Seuss book, this film faithfully adapts the plot but adds a manic spin that strains to convey far too many moral messages while overloading the film with wacky action.
In the Jungle of Nool, Horton (Carrey) is an elephant usually in trouble for his air-headed oblivion. So when he hears the tiniest noise in a speck of dust, everyone thinks he's mad. Especially the self-proclaimed queen of the jungle, the stern Kangaroo (Burnett). But Horton really does hear that voice, which belongs to the Mayor of Who-ville (Carell), whose entire speck-sized world is under threat unless Horton can find them a safe home. But Kangaroo has hired the thuggish eagle Vlad (Arnett) and a gang of monkeys to stop him.
In their effort to make the film kinetic and eventful, the filmmakers skip over the central logic: it's never convincing why Kangaroo is angry that Horton has stirred the children's imaginations. Which leaves us with a mindless villain who's evil for evil's sake. To make up for this, the script latches on to every conceivable message--being true to yourself, trusting your loved ones, global warming, These are laid on so thickly that the oft-repeated and superb central theme, "a person's a person no matter how small", is almost lost in the shuffle.
That said, the film is gloriously animated in vivid primary colours with a strong attention to detail. Like the producers' previous Ice Age movies, the characters are rather plasticky and toy-like, but they're full of personality thanks to both the skilled animators and the lively voice cast. Even the smallest characters are loaded with attitude, which makes the film enjoyable and it helps us find points where we can identify with the characters and situations.
But this only makes the preachiness that much more annoying. And also the apparent desperation to create hysterically goofy set pieces, none of which generates quite enough humour or suspense. Much more interesting is the submerged commentary on the current political climate in America, echoing the McCarthy parallels in Seuss' 1954 original. This will give thoughtful adults something to enjoy almost as much as kids will love the sheer energy of it all.
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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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