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Dr Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!


Stars: Voices: Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Isla Fisher, Carol Burnett, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, Jaime Pressly, Jonah Hill, Dan Fogler, Madison Pettis

Director: Jimmy Hayward, Steve Martino

There's a rumble in the jungle all right, but it's only Horton the elephant (voiced by Carrey), skipping merrily through, in this animated adaptation of Dr Seuss' famous story that proves 'a person's a person no matter how small'.

Horton's aim is a morning dip - in the film's only faux pas, he ties his ears up in a bathing cap, but then uses them to swim - but his attention is diverted by a tiny ball on a flower, from which he hears a voice. The speck is in fact Whoville, whose spindly Mayor (Carell), who has 96 daughters and one son, is considered a boob by the town council, but is the only person who can hear Horton when his town comes under threat.

Source of the danger to Whoville's survival comes from the jungle in the shape of an overbearing kangaroo (Burnett), who looks like Wile E Coyote. Unable to hear the Whos - 'If you can't see, hear, or feel it, it doesn't exist!' - she declares Horton mad and that the flower and the speck on it must be destroyed. To do the deed, she hires Vlad the vulture, who pursues Horton as he flees with the flower to what he considers to be a safe place.

A gang of monkeys also attack him on the journey, giving rise to one of the few lines aimed at adults, as, pelted with fruit, Horton declares 'I love the smell of bananas in the morning' - a reference to a classic quote from Apocalypse Now.

Despite its flurry of activity and inventively daffy realisation of Whoville and its denizens, Horton Hears a Who! doesn't exactly set the cartoon world on fire. It's nowhere near as funny - or as good - as the same company's Ice Age films, although it'll do until Ice Age 3 comes along next year. Its modest ambitions and colourful characters will probably please youngsters between four and seven, while their parents nod off here and there. The string of star voices certainly helps.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour.
88 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 15 Mar 2008