Making the Grades
Of all of Horton's endearing qualities, this charming and chubby critter created by Dr. Seuss is faithful 100%. While taking this character from book form to a full-length feature film might be an elephant-sized task, the filmmakers have also managed to stay faithful to everything good and engaging about this whimsical creature.
Horton's (voice by Jim Carey) role in the jungle hierarchy is to introduce the young animals to the world around them. Most parents are thrilled with his enthusiastic teaching methods. But Mama Kangaroo (voice by Carol Burnett), who orders around the other inhabitants of the tropical forest while "pouch schooling" her joey (voice by Josh Flitter), would gladly discredit his educational endeavors. As a result, when Horton thinks he hears a sound coming from a tiny speck of dust that he catches on a clover blossom, she is quick to condemn him in front of the others.
However, Horton won't be deterred from what he believes. Protecting the flowering stalk with his oversized and versatile ears, he finally makes contact with the Mayor (voice by Steve Carell) of a miniscule town located on the speck. Even though the members of the jungle community and the citizens of Whoville both refuse to acknowledge the other's existence, Horton and the Mayor are committed to finding a protected place for the microscopic municipality to dwell. As Horton deals with heckling from his friends, the Mayor tries to convince his wife Sally (voice by Amy Poehler) and his son Jo Jo (voice by Jesse McCartney) that he is not completely cuckoo.
Much like the Seuss book, it's possible this animated version will appeal to both children and parents who find themselves in theater seats. While the youngest of audience members may be frightened by some cartoon violence, moments of peril, and the Mayor's misadventures in a dental chair, this film steers clear of all but a couple of brief potty humor jokes and some repeated name calling.
So whether viewers simply sit back and enjoy the story or look for deeper meanings in the message, Horton Hears a Who! is a creative and clever reminder that people's perspective can be easily limited if they only believe what they see, hear and feel. Still, the most admirable aspect of this playful pachyderm is the kind and gentle way in which he forgives the faults of others. Not always an easy thing to do when you have a memory like an elephant.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Horton Hears a Who.
Although no one initially believes him, Horton stays true to his convictions. What does this say about his commitment level and feelings of responsibility? What does he do when faced with an option to back down from his beliefs? What does it mean to you to be faithful 100%?
What difference do individuals make in this story? What do Horton and Jo Jo learn about the importance of one?
How is diversity addressed in this script? How do perspectives change?