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Horton Hears a Who! (2-Disc)
DVD disk
01.23.2009 By: Mathew Plale
Horton Hears a Who! (2-Disc) order
Director:
Jimmy Hayward, Steve Martino

Actors:
Jim Carrey
Steve Carell
Carol Burnett

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Ideas of one's importance in the world clash in this animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears a Who!
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Horton Hears a Who! is computer animated, and that counts for something after two feature-length Dr. Seuss adaptations starring once-relevant character actors weighted down in prosthetics. Not all future animated Seuss movies will work (for one, the Lorax is a bit too Wilford Brimley for tykes), but this is a step in the right direction.

Thank the elephant (because how do you train a real one to talk to dust?). That’s Horton (voice of Jim Carrey), the largest inhabitant of Nool, a diverse jungle with mice, kangaroos, purple monkeys, and a baby yak who just about steals the whole show. But Katie the yak isn’t in the movie nearly enough to warrant another sentence, so let’s go to the plot for those unacquainted:

From a floating speck of dust comes a high-pitched yelp!, which only Horton can hear. On the speck is Whoville, whose Mayor (voice of Steve Carell) is the only one that can hear Horton. And everyone—the wildlife and the Whos, on the brink of celebrating the Who Centennial—thinks the elephant and the politician are crazy.

Here’s where parents should take note, because what happens next has been linked to anti-abortion groups. The sour Kangaroo (voice of Carol Burnett) vows to destroy the speck after declaring, “If you can’t see, hear, or feel something, it doesn’t exist,” to which Horton rebuttals with the film’s motto, “A person is a person, no matter how small.” Obviously, Horton’s case prevails in the end, and that might leave some parents fuming, though the real message here that kids are taking with them is the importance of equality. It’s best to focus your parental concerns on the more damaging idea in the movie: that it’s okay to break out into an REO Speedwagon singalong.

But there’s enough in Horton Hears a Who! to recommend it. The energy of the voice talent—which, in addition to the aforementioned stars includes Will Arnett (as Vlad the vulture), Seth Rogen (as Horton’s mouse pal Morton), and Amy Poehler (as the Mayor’s wife, and mother of 96 daughters and one son)—should keep the kids entertained for 86 minutes, while the CG worlds are colorful enough to explore while we wait for the next Pixar adventure.
THE EXTRAS
Disc One:

Commentary with Directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino: The duo puts on a fascinating track, sharing details on the animation, characters, cast, and much, much more. Worth a listen.

Deleted Footage: Available with an optional director commentary, there are 13 scenes to choose from, with 9 Storyboard Versions (14:50), 2 Rough Animation Versions (2:39), and 2 Almost-Final Versions (1:09). The scenes are nothing spectacular, but it’s fun to see the stages of the film’s animation.

Animation Screen Tests: Available for Horton (2:58), Mayor (3:47), and the Whos (0:23), these 23 clips offer early animation footage/tests. Another good piece.

Bringing the Characters to Life (5:28): The animators give us an inside look at the important relationship between the cast and their Seuss counterparts in regards to how to animate them.

That’s One Big Elephant: Animating Horton (8:07) goes into the development of the lovable elephant, from studying Seuss’s original drawings and the crew’s initial sketches/models, to Jim Carrey’s role and the final footage.

Meet Katie (3:48) devotes its time to the scene-stealing furball (yak?!), who began as a background character and went on to become the most popular in the movie.

Bringing Seuss to Screen (8:13) observes how the team used Seuss’s book not just for the story, but as a guide to imagining Whoville’s architecture.

The Elephant in the Room: Jim Carrey (4:53) devotes its time to Carrey, who’s just as enthusiastic as you’d expect him to be. Interviews and recording studio footage are included.

A Person is a Person: A Universal Message (3:41): Steve Carrell and the directors discuss the theme of Horton Hears a Who!: “A person is a person, no matter how small.”

Our Speck: Where Do We Fit In? (4:00) is a piece of propaganda targeted at kids to Go Green.

Elephant Fun: The Facts (5:28): Want to learn about elephants that aren’t computer-generated? Well here ya go.

Also included is an All-New Ice Age short (Surviving Sid), a We Are Here! Game, the DVD-ROM-only Create Your Own Animation, and Trailers.

Disc Two:

The sole feature here is the Digital Copy, the gimmick that just won’t go away.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Even without the second disc, this 2-Disc Special Edition of Horton Hears a Who! is stacked with extras that will keep everyone in the family busy for hours. Oh, and there's a pretty decent movie in there, too, if you can get past the political undertones.
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