Whyboy Spotlights… Horton Hears a Who (2008)

SPOTLIGHTED BY Les of Manic Expression

After rewatching this movie I can really tell that this movie deserves a Cartoon Corner review of its own. Not because it’s bad but because it would be very interesting to compare the 2008 movie to the 1970 animated short as well as the original 1952 book. Obviously by that you can already deduce that I really liked this movie and I feel that it fully deserves the title of best Dr. Seuss movie adaptation which when you think about it isn’t that much of an accomplishment.


Anyway onto the story which is mainly just given away in the title. Horton the elephant hears a Who. Simple. Straight forward. Nothing that the 1970 short hadn’t already pulled off so how does  the 2008 movie differentiate itself because. Well first off it changes the two main characters personalities that being Horton and the Who Horton comes in contact with. Let’s start with who’s character obviously changed the most that being Horton who in this movie is played by the comedic master Jim Carrey. I love Jim Carrey in almost all his roles. He just has tons of fun in any role that he plays to an almost worrying degree. This however was a major pitfall that Carrey fell into when he previously played The Grinch in the 2000 only decent adaptation of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The movie was fine in it’s own right it added plot elements that quite frankly contradicted the message of the story but the main saving grace of the movie was Jim Carrey but even then he only saved it because he’s naturally funny. It wasn’t the fact that he was a good Grinch. In my own words he missed the point of the character so bad he wasn’t even in the same country as it. The cold heartless mean spirited Grinch was gone and replaced with the mugging hyperactive green asshole that we saw on screen.


Some of these points can be used again when describing Horton’s character. While in the short he was just a polite and kind everyman saving the Who’s because that was the right thing to do in the movie he constantly mugs at the camera, spazzes out, and would be considered insane in every meaning of the word. This change however… works. This will probably get me spat upon on the streets but the Horton in the book and the short were just bland. They were both nice guys but being just a nice guy is boring for people to spend an hour and a half watching. Carrey brings new life to the character which makes the character interesting to watch and Carrey does bring a lot of the big laughs in the movie. But Carrey as shown in performances like in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind can play serious as well and when the mood goes low Carrey can work with it bringing his charm to the moment that makes even the sadder of scenes a joy to watch.


Now onto the second of this double act the Who. In the adaptation he was a simple minded professor looking for knowledge vastly beyond his own comprehension and again while his character held up for a short most would DEFINITELY find him dull if the same character was stretched in this movie. So now he’s a eccentric mayor played by Steve Carrell. I didn’t really know what to make of that. I’m one who never found Steve all that funny in most his roles mainly because he downplayed his reactions and performance but here he is just going above my expectations. Great reactions and a truly fun filled performance. horton-hears-a-who-2008-01 Just to go a little in depth to the story of the character he’s an overworked dad with 96 daughters (Yikes!) and one son named Jo Jo who in the original was some stupid kid who was indecisive of what to say WHEN THE TOWN WAS ABOUT TO BE DESTROYED but here just plays the silent loner including an emo fringe hair cut. This plays through the basic plot line of son misunderstood by father. Father learns to be proud of his son in anything he does and yada yada yada. It’s a decent plot line but demands a little more of a new spin on it.


A word on Blue Sky Production’s animation. Beautiful. All the character models are distinctive. The colour pallet while a little watered down is fairly colourful fitting the style of a Dr. Seuss book. The lighting in the scene where Horton loses the clover the who’s are on is just plain breathtaking. Blue Sky truly are fantastic animators of their work on Ice Age hadn’t clued yah in on that fact.


Now onto the villains. The villains in the short ranged from the snooty Sour Kangaroo, the terrifying looking Wickersham Brothers (who in this movie are monkeys because… monkeys equal humour?), and the actually lazy seeming eagle Vlad Vladikoff. In the movie Sour Kangaroo becomes less of a Snoot, which made her funny in my books, in the short to a “Won’t Somebody Think of The Children” hysterical witch. The Wickersham brothers are relatively the same pulling off some funny fairly darker humour in the climax. Finally their is Vlad Vladikoff who is now the second main antagonist while in the original he was just the bird who didn’t give two craps about what was going on. Overall the villains changes are mainly cosmetic and don’t change the story at all really.


Overall the movie is a great one with only one thing holding it back slightly. The pointless crap. Seriously this movie has padding scenes like you wouldn’t believe in the first part of the movie. Mainy the Wickersham’s now crammed in banana jokes (they never eat, mention or show bananas ever again) and probably most famous with haters the anime style fight scene Horton has with a tree.

This was lame.

That was just lame and pointless. It makes the story screech to a grinding halt and adds NOTHING TO ANYTHING. Even my favourite part of the movie the climax, which is my favourite because it really did drive up the intensity and the suspense of the moment all while putting it completely to a very memorable song, was basically crapped on by all the characters singing a stupid pop song at the end. JUST END ON THE HIGH NOTE AND WALK OFF. *sigh* At the end of the day what am I left with? A very good movie who seemed to have to force content in to make its hour and 30 minute mark but even with the stupid forced content the overall movie is very funny, and filled with a lot of character and an actual soul. GEE it’s almost like someone actually cared to make a good movie. Unlike The Cat in The Hat. Thank god there’s never gonna be a remake to that…

Illumination Eyes More Seuss with CG ‘Cat in the Hat’


Actually a quick word on this update. I can safety say that I am not worried in trusting Illumination to make a GOOD Cat in the Hat Movie. The Lorax like I said wasn’t bad… wasn’t good either but they were able to make something watchable so hopefully learning from their shortcomings in story there, they’ll use that knowledge to make this Cat in the Hat movie awesome…. or at least bearable. But I won’t hold my breath.

Illustration by Jordan Tucker
Written by: Taylor “Whyboy” Wyatt

About Whyboy

A cunning devious man on a mission to review cartoons, and animated movies as well as get a job as a screenwriter.