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I guess it wouldn't be remiss if I've approached "Horton Hears a Who!" with some reservations as the trailers were anything but something to be excited about. Had it not been for the Whos and the Dr. Seuss tag that comes with the title, this latest computer-animated film from the "Ice Age" team would come off as yet another animal-on-a-mission flick straight from the assembly line. And films adapted from one of Dr. Seuss' books haven't been as successful as when they were in print, to put it lightly.
A relatively neutered Jim Carrey provides the voice for Horton, an elephant who hears a voice from a floating speck and discovers that there are people actually living in it in a place called Who-ville. Called the Whos, these people have a Mayor (voiced by an also-neutered Steve Carrell) who has 96 daughters and a son who won't speak. It's up to Horton to find a safe place for the speck to save Who-ville from destruction, even as the well-meaning pachyderm has to avoid all sorts of obstacles, including Sour Kangaroo, Vlad the Vulture, the Wickersham brothers, and other metaphors of McCarthyism.
As usual with such a thin material, the film has the obligatory additional scenes to pad the running time but all in all, it captures the spirit of its source, and it's a case where a G-rated film provides entertainment both to kids and their older companions as well. (I would have said "a rare case" but in this country, the G-rating is applied more liberally by the local censor board.) The animation is consistently good and a Japanese-inspired traditional animation does not feel out of place from the overall enjoyment material. The voice cast, according to the credits, involves some relatively big names, but other than Carrey and Carrell, none of the actors take attention from their characters and thus do not distract.
Fast-paced and touching, "Horton Hears a Who!" represents a step up for Blue Sky Studios, who has played supporting roles to Pixar and Dreamworks. I'm tempted to say that it's the best Dr. Seuss film adaptation ever, but that won't be saying much considering the other films involved. So maybe I'll just say it's one of the best animated films, which is anyway true.
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