Horton family fun
March 17, 2008 —
Genuinely good family films are hard to find today. When I say family films, I mean movies that everyone can sit and enjoy. Horton Hears a Who!, however, succeeds where so many animated films have failed over the last few years in being perfect for adults and children alike, despite some flaws.
Who! is based on the famous Dr. Seuss children's book. It revolves around Horton, an elephant, who finds a tiny floating speck that he soon discovers has the town of Whoville in it. He decides to take the speck to a secure location, but soon runs into trouble with the local jungle community.
Who! doesn't falter in being either too kid or adult oriented. Most of the mature jokes are extraordinarily subtle, and the physical humor and quirky character moments add much to the comedy.
The voice cast is also excellent, with Jim Carrey as Horton and Steve Carell as the Mayor of Whoville at the focus. They play very well off of one another, and neither is allowed to really deviate from the script - as happened in The Grinch.
But what makes the film most successful is how faithful it is to Seuss's text. The depth of Seuss's text is maintained in the film with its ideologies of self-sacrifice, the need for imagination and the benefits of remaining true to your beliefs still all present. These ideas are universal and important in all stages of life, which is another reason why the film works so well as great family entertainment.
Still, for all its success, Who! just isn't seamless enough to be a solid classic. There is also a bizarre 2D anime sequence in the film that doesn't fit at all with the overall plot. And, rather oddly and jarringly, the cast of characters breaks into a musical rendition of REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore" near the end of the film. There was no musical number prior to it and it didn't fit with any of the themes or even the action of the moment.
It was a real shame to see such small and blatant flaws in what could have otherwise been a fantastic film. Still, Who! succeeds in being one of the best family films of the last few years because its humor and themes are for all ages.