Eccentric elephant Horton (Carrey) hears a voice calling from a speck of dust, home to the Whos. He befriends their mayor (Carell), but both face disbelief from friends as Horton tries to get the speck to safety.
Having presumably looked at the live-action The Cat In The Hat and The Grinch and thought again, Pixar-trained directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino head down the CGI route in this adaptation of oddball Seuss’ second Horton book.
Jungle-dwelling elephant Horton (Jim Carrey, threatening to become a Seuss staple) hears a Who calling for help on a tiny speck of dust. Having caught it on a clover, he makes a promise to the Whos’ mayor (Steve Carell) to get the speck to safety. This he has to do while outsmarting the jungle’s deafer contingent and its disbelieving leader Kangaroo (Carol Burnett, on top form), who starts a witch hunt to bring down both Horton and the flower, roping in a pant-wettingly scary vulture voiced by Will Arnett to do some persuading.
The Whos in question are the same last seen causing Carrey grief in The Grinch (they lived in a snowflake, remember?), and although they’re now rendered in CGI, they have the same tiny noses and bonsai hairstyles. But having gone down the animation route, the directors have great fun with it. There’s a look-in for Seuss’ original drawings, and a bonkers-but-brilliant anime segment for no good reason other than it’s very funny.
An impressive lack of showboating means the vocal talent is largely of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it variety. Carrey and Carell are nicely understated, while cameos from Isla Fisher, Amy Poehler, Seth Rogen and Jaime Pressly nearly slip under the radar. You can see why they signed up. Unlike the last two Seuss films, there’s no patronising behind the grinning capers, and it’s genuinely amusing. Children (and, much to Seuss’ fury before his death, pro-life campaigners) will love the motto that, “A person’s a person, no matter how small,” and it’s to the film’s credit that this message isn’t wrapped up in moralising soppiness.
Adults, meanwhile, will breathe a sigh of relief that Seuss’ weirdness hasn’t been tampered with — although this is not a colour scheme to watch sober — and there are enough film nods to keep the most impatient of parents quiet, with The Dark Crystal, The Princess Bride and Dumbo all getting sly nods in. This Who is easily as good as the sum of its parts.
Charming, funny and great turns from a cast with no finger-wagging. But if you dont like psychosis-inducing imagery, steer clear.