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In praise of Horton Hears A Who


The good-natured elephant of the 2008 CGI film is still being of service...

Horton Hears A Who (2008)

Last week, my parents announced to myself and my two little sisters that they were going to get divorced. This was not of shock to me as they hadn’t seen eye to eye for at least 3 years and had turned towards a vast array of derogatory terms to describe one another. Nonetheless, it ripped my family apart. Little sisters and parents crying; one big brother, i.e. me, left to act as the sponge. However, I’m no Superman and I was feeling pretty crap myself. So, like any film nerd, I look towards my film collection. I’ve got all the classics from the Godfather trilogy to Oldboy to Citizen Kane; however, none seemed very apt at this moment in time. So, utterly depressed, the situation seemed hopeless. Then, all of sudden, my faithful copy of Horton Hears a Who beams out at me. There is a light at the end of the tunnel folks.

Now, before all of you start loading your shotguns and exclaim WHAT ABOUT PIXAR?!? INBRED COMMUNIST/CAPITALIST (your choice) IGNORING GHIBLI?!? MUST BE A RITARD! Take it easy, big guys and gals. It’s all part of the plan. I love Pixar. For my local university paper, I wrote an article declaring my undying love to a circulation of 15,000. Indeed, I own all the Studio Ghibli films bar the Ponyo. So yeah, I was there for Grave of the Fireflies, I was there, man! Moving on, I understand the brilliance of these films, and this love letter to Mr. Seuss’s work is not in any way meant to discredit or muddy the names of these greats. I am simply saying having faith in me and especially Horton Hears a Who.

Indeed, Horton Hears a Who is nowhere near the best film of all time. Not even the best animation of all time; not even close. However, it means the world to me, and this film has saved my soul so many times, its ridiculous to even count.

Horton Hears a Who was released in 2008, directed by first timers Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino. Indeed, not the easiest project for first-time directors, as previous Seuss adaptations have either been horribly patronising - How the Grinch Stole Christmas - or just plain horrible: The Cat in the Hat. However, it is a huge credit to this pair of newbies that this film is what it is. Fun, mad, random as hell, eccentric, over the top, genuine, heartfelt brilliance.

Horton is what cinema needs to be. It’s a film bursting with imagination and verve and excitement. It doesn’t patronise the audience, it’s like an 8 year-old who wants to show off to their parents. Maybe they’re not very subtle in their presentation, but you just got to love their guts and effort in their performance. The imagination displayed on the screen is phenomenal. The scene where everything turns to anime is hilarious. You can’t help but giggle like a little girl. The simple scene at the dentist with Joe Pasquale acting as the dentist; it is genius. All these scenes hark back to the Airplane! attitude of: if there’s a joke, make it.

"Horton is like an 8 year-old who wants to show off to their parents. Maybe they’re not very subtle in their presentation, but you just got to love their guts and effort in their performance"

The cast is superb. Steve Carrell has not been funnier since. His Jimmy Stewart every-Who persona is excellent conveyed and you genuinely urge him to succeed. The star of the show is Jim Carrey. Before the currently showing and rather brilliant I Love You, Phillip Morris, Carrey’s career had slightly lulled after the terrible Fun with Dick and Jane and The Number 23. His comedic brilliance had been restrained. Animation freed him. Carrey could finally unleash his inner Ace again. It all shows on the screen; his comic exuberance bounces off the screen. It’s brilliant. Furthermore, he brings a caring atmosphere to the film. Horton may not be the brightest match in the box, but we don’t feel he's stupid; he does what he thinks is right. A morale often put upon a pedestal by studios when in fact, all they do is blur it with patronising overtones and sugar infested clichés.

You may be saying: “Pixar do all that and with subtlety and brilliance and beauty every film and much better”. Indeed, Pixar are the best. No doubt. The sight of the new film Despicable Me leaves me a horrible feeling that the studio has returned to their patronising hat, but are just waiting to wag their finger at the Western audiences for not being more loving and caring. Pffft. Please note I have not seen this film yet, so it may still surprise me.

But still, pfffft. Sometimes Pixar’s greatness can be overwhelming. For example, we don’t all watch Mean Streets or Irreversible every night (ok maybe you do, damn sweeping statements!) but it leaves room for stuff like The Room and Uwe Boll; ok, bad examples. My point is we don’t just love a film; we’re here because we love film. Therefore Horton Hears A Who fills that void between crap and brilliance, producing some kind of amazing excellence that only comes across once in a blue moon.

"Horton Hears a Who is a children’s film but not in the way you think. It’s a film with a child’s sentimentality and thought processes and this is exactly how Dr Seuss wrote"

Before concluding, I must apologise for the excessive colloquialism and childish outlook upon the world within this piece. However, sod it. I’m not really sorry. I’m proud of this film and I’ll stand up for it to the death. Horton is not the best film ever, but it is among the happiest. Within my current circumstances that’s pretty hard to come by. I’m not asking for buckets of sympathy; I’m merely trying to emphasise the brilliance of film and in particular this little gem. Whilst writing this article, I quickly checked online for the prices of it. £3. That’s it. 300 little pennies for a film bound to lift the hearts of anyone for that small amount of change. I implore you – buy it now! To hell with Avatar 3D; to hell with the Academy Awards (how Horton didn’t get nominated over the rather underwhelming Bolt I do not know); to hell with cynics!

This is a lovely film with a big heart; within cinema today, I feel that big thumping loveable heart is sometimes missing. Therefore, this film should be cherished and celebrated. I doubt many of you have even reached the end of this article, let alone clicked on the tab; however those of you who have been on this journey with me can clearly see this film means a lot to me. This is one of the best animated films of the last decade. Horton Hears a Who is a children’s film but not in the way you think. It’s a film with a child’s sentimentality and thought processes and this is exactly how Dr Seuss wrote. So as I sit here, slightly upset, I’m uplifted by this film. I plead to others out there if suffering from bad times; stick on Horton Hears a Who and things seem a little less grim.


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#1 Guest 2010-04-27 11:07
A well written article...very moving from start to finish.

A couple of spelling errors but the piece is real...a true piece of writing.

I hope things are good and look forward to reading any other pieces you submit.
#2 Guest 2010-04-27 11:20
i loved this- you're such a good writer. I'm sorry about your folks, and agree- Horton Hears A Who is legendary :D
#3 Guest 2010-04-29 06:49
Beautifully written. I will watch the film this weekend. Looking forward to it. Remember in that great Pixar statement "Keep Moving Forward" (Meet the Robinsons). Keep writing. Keep submitting.

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