Horton Can You Hear Me?

horton_hearsI, like many of my peers, have a profound fondness for Dr. Seuss. His classic books taught us, and most of our children, not only how to read, but how to rhyme and dream in color. So I was more than skeptical about how Hollywood could expand, yet again -- think of the marginalized live action flicks The Grinch and The Cat in The Hat -- a sliver of a book into 90 minutes of family entertainment. I'm happy to report that Horton Hears A Who! is a joyous romp of a movie, one that the good Doctor would probably even approve. Using all of the computer-heavy advantages of the unlimited animation budget at 20th Century Fox, the folks who brought us the Ice Age franchise now present us with a world most Baby Boomers and Xers know very well. And kudos to the directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino for creating an eye-popping kaleidescope-of-color world from which Seuss's characters can jump off the screen and into our laps. My two kids enjoyed it, and you know what, so did my wife and I. It's not a "G" movie for the ages (those owners are still held by Pixars' Toy Story and Bugs Life), but that still remains the challenge, and Achilles heel, for the big studios with unlimited budgets and resources. Jim Carrey as the voice of the elephant Horton and Steve Carell as the Mayor of Whoville have wonderfully rubbery dialog and verbal repartee. In fact, one senses that they really seem to be enjoying the banter, even though they were just standing next to each other in a Hollywood recording studio and not "acting" on a set. And "hats off" to Carol Burnett as the nosy, over-bearing moralist Kangaroo. This is the second stint for Mr. Carrey with Seuss, having already played the Grinch in the Ron Howard-directed live action flick. And while Mr. Carey's over-the-top performance was too enthusiastic and overbearing in that role, as an animated character he is much more palatable. As the kindhearted elephant in the Jungle of Nool, he must protect the microscopic world of the Whos. And it's not easy terrain to navigate with banana-flinging monkeys and a bossy, policy-setting Kangaroo butting into his day-to-day routines. Sure, the writers pad the story with extraneous story elements but even those retreaded clichés aren't enough to napalm this colorful jungle or the Whoville's microscopic world.

Bring the family, enjoy the ride.

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Mr. Wright is the former editor-in-chief of Creem and Prince's New Power Generation magazines as well as a writer of films, fiction, and music. He is also a singer/songwriter who has released 3 solo CDs and a member of the folk-rock quartet GIANTfingers. And before all of this he was an agent at the William Morris Agency!

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