Horton Hears a Who DVD: Review By B. Alan Orange

It’s certainly one of the best-looking CGI movies of the year. It’s too bad the story is stretched beyond the breaking point.
  • OVERALL
    4.0
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Picture
  • Sound
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
Every single character rendered for the screen is absolutely gorgeous. And it truly captures the spirit of Dr. Seuss' original book.
THE BAD
Chuck Jones took this concept and ran with it, giving us everything we needed in his short special. That means there's a lot of unnecessary filler here.
THE FEATURE
Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino directed this rousing adaptation of Dr. Suess's ribald tale. It tells of an overly earnest elephant that discovers a tiny civilization living on a spec of dust. The storybook was only so many pages, and in 1970, Chuck Jones built a flawless and proficient half-hour special out of it. Here, they have stretched that quaint plot into a ninety-minute loop of corny elephant jokes and keen insight into the life of your average Who citizen. It seems long, but that's only because there's not much story to tell. Horton the elephant discovers that the Whos live within a spec of dust. And for the next hour or so, he attempts to carry that little spec to a safe haven where it won't be disturbed. That's it. That's all she wrote. The animation is spectacular. With the exception of Disney's Wall-E, you'd be hard pressed to find a better-looking CGI animated film from this past year. The project supports an amazing voice cast that includes Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Carol Burnett, Dan Fogler, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jaime Pressly, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and Isla Fisher. Some, like Carrey and Carell (who, honestly, are hard to tell apart at times) are used accordingly. But others, like Hill and Rogen, are waisted with just a couple of throwaway lines. If you are a Dr. Suess aficionado, you've already seen this brilliantly displayed take on the Horton mythos. And you know that, with the exception of Theodore's live action 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, it is the truest screen incarnation of his work to date. It's not as cheesy as Ron Howard's The Grinch, and its miles away from the atrocity known as Mike Myers's The Cat in the Hat. Kids will love to watch it on a loop, I'm sure. And it's not as annoying as it could have been. All in all, it's a fairly decent kiddy flick.
THE EXTRAS
There is a brand new short film staring Ice Age's Sid the Sloth entitled "Surviving Sid". It's a cute treat for fans of that particular franchise. Directors Hayward and Martino offer their own unique audio commentary over the film, discussing the cast and the animation process. It's a pretty welcome tutorial for anyone that's interested in CGI animation and the participation Suess' widow offered to the project. There are 13 deleted scenes that will have you wondering how they could have possibly stretched this thin story any thinner. There is a featurette that centers around bringing the characters to life. And Jim Carrey gets his own voice profile. There are also a couple of fairly stupid games that probably won't keep your kids entertained for too long.
THE VIDEO
The film is bright and vivid; an animation lover's dream. It is presented in the widescreen format (1.85:1 aspect ratio) on a 25GB single-layer disc authored in AVC (MPEG 4).
THE AUDIO
The film is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround, Spanish/French Dolby Surround with English and Spanish subtitles.
THE PACKAGE
The box art is almost as attractive as the film itself. We get Horton's giant elephant head looking in on a whole bunch of other characters from the film. It keeps the Suess vibe alive, and would definitely pull me towards it in a lonely store isle, surrounded by blander films of its kind.
THE FINAL WORD
The film is gorgeous to look at. It has a good message about looking out for the little guy. And it does offer the occasional funny joke. It's just too bad that they had to stretch this short story so thin. The film is made up of meager offerings, and it definitely won't hold older audience members' attention after that first viewing. It is harmless enough to add to your kid's library, and they might enjoy watching it multiple times over the course of the next year. It is the second best Dr. Suess movie made to date, resting just behind The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T.

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