Horton Hears a Who! (also known as Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!) is a 2008 American computer-animated fantasy adventure comedy film based on the book of the same name by Dr. Seuss. Produced by Blue Sky Studios, the film was directed by Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martinoand written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, with music by John Powell. It features the voices of Jim Carrey and Steve Carell.
Released theatrically on March 14, 2008, by 20th Century Fox, it grossed $297 million on a budget of $85 million. The film is the third Dr. Seuss feature film adaptation, the second Dr. Seuss film starring Jim Carrey after How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), and the first adaptation of a Dr. Seuss work fully animated using CGI technology.
A dust speck is dislodged from its obscure place and sent adrift through the Jungle of Nool. At the same time, Horton the elephant, the jungle's eccentric nature teacher, takes a dip in the pool. The dust speck floats past him in the air, and he hears a tiny yelp coming from it. Believing that an entire society of microscopic creatures are living on that speck, he places it atop of a clover. Horton finds out the speck harbors the city of Whovilleand its inhabitants, the Whos, led by Mayor Ned McDodd.
He has a wife, Sally, ninety six daughters (whose names all begin with the letter H), and one teenage son named JoJo. Despite being the oldest and next in line for the mayoral position, JoJo doesn't want to be the next mayor, and because he's so scared of disappointing his father, never talks. Once Horton begins carrying the speck with him, the city starts experiencing strange phenomena (earthquakes and changes in the weather), and the Mayor finds his attempts to caution Whoville challenged by the Town Council, led by the opportunistic yet condescending Chairman.
After he makes contact with Horton, the Mayor finds out from Dr. Mary Lou LaRue that Whoville will be destroyed if Horton does not find a "safer, more stable home". Horton resolves (with the help of his best friend Morton the mouse) to place the speck atop Mt. Nool, the safest place in the jungle. The head of the jungle, the Sour Kangaroo, disbelieving Horton's beliefs and resenting him for overshadowing her authority, attempts several times to demand that Horton give up the speck, but Horton ignores her demands. Also taking force toward Horton are the Wickersham Brothers, a group of monkeys who love making misery. Eventually, the Kangaroo enlists a vulture named Vlad Vladikoff to get rid of the speck by force.
Vlad manages to steal the clover away from Horton and drops it into a massive field of identical pink clovers, causing an apocalyptic tremor in Whoville. After unsuccessfully picking nearly three million clovers, Horton eventually recovers the clover (exactly the 3,000,000th clover). The Kangaroo eventually finds out, thanks to Mrs. Quilligan, that Horton still has the speck, and decides to rally the jungle community into fighting Horton, saying that Horton's goal will lead to anarchy. Upon cornering him, the Kangaroo offers Horton an escape from punishment by renouncing Whoville's existence.
Despite Horton's heartfelt speech when he refuses, the Kangaroo orders the animals to rope and cage him, and to have the speck and the Whos destroyed in a pot of boiling beezlenut oil. The Mayor enlists all of his people to make noise by shouting "We are here!", as well as playing a variety of instruments, so the animals may hear them, assisted by JoJo's "Symphonophone", an invention which creates a huge musical contribution (which reveals that JoJo's "true" passion is music), but still fails to penetrate the surface of the speck.
As Horton lies beaten and captured, the Kangaroo easily takes the clover, and drops it. Meanwhile, JoJo grabs the horn used to project Horton's voice, runs up the highest tower and screams "YOPP!", breaking through the sound barrier just seconds before the speck hits the oil.
The Kangaroo's son, Rudy grabs the clover and returns it to Horton. The animals finally hear the Whos and realize the truth and isolate the Kangaroo for tricking them. While being praised for his integrity by his neighbors, Horton even forgives the devastated Kangaroo, and she befriends him with a makeshift umbrella for Whoville. Here, the people of Whoville and the animals of Nool gather in song and recite the chorus from "Can't Fight This Feeling". The film ends with the narrator revealing that the Jungle of Nool, or rather Earth, is just one speck, like Whoville, among numerous others, floating in outer space.
Why It's Better than How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) and The Cat in the Hat (2003)
- While the live-action Dr. Seuss movies aren't very faithful to the books and had too much suggestive humor for kids, this one is rather faithful to the source material and very clean for families to enjoy.
- Very cartoonish and fluent animation that fits to Dr. Seuss style very well.
- Well-done character development.
- No creepy designs.
- The characters are likable.
- A very funny anime parody scene appears in the movie.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 79% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 132 reviews. The site's consensus reads, "Horton Hears A Who! is both whimsical and heartwarming, and is the rare Dr. Seuss adaptation that stays true to the spirit of the source material." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, calculated a score of 71 out of 100 based on 31 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews."