widescreen – Horton hits a home run

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Who doesnt love Dr. Seuss?

Certainly everyone in America does. The CGI-animated adaptation of his classic childrens book, Horton Hears a Who!, brought in an elephant-size $45 million last weekend, and will likely continue its box office stampede.

Horton is a hit. And why shouldnt it be? Its the first time Hollywood actually got Seuss right. Live action versions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat were just OK. The movies were inventive, but they were ultimately lacking magic.

Horton has magic and whimsy and wonder to spare. By opting for CGI, directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino, both making their feature film debuts, are able to pay tribute to Theodor Seuss Geisels singular vision while adding some of their own delightful flourishes.

The stripped-down narrative goes like this: An elephant named Horton is minding his own business when he hears a tiny cry emit from a speck sitting atop a clover. Turns out the speck houses another world, Who-ville, home to an always-happy lot of creatures known as Whos.

Hortons insistence that there are beings living on the speck doesnt go down well with his jungle-mates, particularly Kangaroo, who insists, If you cant hear it, see it or feel it, it doesnt exist. The citizens of Who-ville, led by a manic mayor with 96 daughters and one son, must make their voices heard.

Screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul flesh out the story nicely without making it feel padded. It moves along at a decent clip, and there are several terrific action sequences that ensure maximum entertainment.

As with any Seuss story, there are lessons to be learned. Watching Horton, you cant help but consider the tenuousness of our own world. The movie gives a nod to global climate woes, and touches on the notion of a greater power. Ultimately, however, its the Whos who save themselves by banding together in a rousing, moving chorus of We Are Here!

Horton is not without a touch of controversy. Right to Life proponents have for years latched onto Hortons proclamation that A persons a person, no matter how small. It just goes to show that anyone can adapt just about anything to suit his or her own agenda.

The vocal cast is impeccable. Jim Carrey, whose last Seuss outing was as The Grinch, is a convivial Horton. Steve Carell excels as the mayor of Who-ville. And Will Arnett is a dastardly delight as the fearsome vulture, Vlad. The ensemble is rounded out by Carol Burnett, Seth Rogen and Charles Osgood.

After Horton, youll never look at a speck of dust in quite the same way again.

Contact the writer at rshulman@metroweekly.com

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