DR. SEUSS’ HORTON HEARS A WHO! Directed by Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino, written by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul based on the book by Dr. Seuss, with the voices of Jim Carrey, Steve Carrell, Seth Rogen and Carol Burnett. 86 minutes. A 20th Century Fox release. Opens Friday (March 14). Rating: NN
As adaptations of beloved children’s books go, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who! is nothing to get too worked up about.
Sure, it’s disrespectful of the delicate perfection of Theodor Geisel’s original text. Yeah, it’s unnecessarily noisy and flashy and padded out with pointless subplots and action sequences, the better to expand a tiny gem of a story to feature length.
The Mayor of Whoville (voiced by Steve Carell as a slightly louder version of Michael Scott from The Office) now has a sullen, silent son with whom he’s trying to bond. Oh, and he goes for a root canal. Oh, and no one on the Whoville city council believes his stories about their whole world fitting onto a speck on a piece of clover being cradled by a giant invisible elephant.
In the macro world, that elephant walks around with the voice and mannerisms of Jim Carrey after too much Red Bull, trying to save the Whos’ speck from the machinations of a cranky kangaroo (Carol Burnett). She can’t tolerate the idea of an invisible universe she can’t see, hear or touch and eventually enlists a Russian-accented vulture (Will Arnett, amusing himself if no one else) to snatch that abomination from its protector.
Stuff happens – at high volume – and it goes without saying that the barest fraction of it comes from the book. But the affable mediocrity of the whole affair means there’s no point in taking umbrage; the good doctor’s book is still right there on the shelf, and watching this won’t make you bleed from your eyes the way Mike Myers did in The Cat In The Hat. That’s something, isn’t it?