Dr Suess has had a nightmare run at the cinema of late, and it's a sign of just how well-loved he is that ever after such cinematic stinkers as The Cat in the Hat and The Grinch Hollywood still thought they could lure audiences back into another film based on his work. But while both those films were live-action disasters, Horton is all-CGI, and whether it's the freedom that comes with not having to build a film around an actor in a costume or the desire to actually make a film that's more than a mish-mash of references and jokes, the result is a Suess film that - for once - is more Suess than suss. Horton (the voice of Jim Carrey, who played the Grinch in The Grinch) is a mildly erratic but kind-hearted elephant content to mess around in the jungle - until one day he hears a tiny voice coming from a even tinier speck as it drifts past. Anyone else would ignore it, but he tracks the speck down (cue plenty of surprisingly decent sight gags as an elephant rumbles through the jungle after a teeny-tiny speck) and discovers that the speck is in fact home to an entire world called Whoville, where the Mayor (the voice of Steve Carell) has things tough enough without learning that his entire world is just a tiny speck that could be destroyed at any moment. Horton's problem is getting the speck somewhere safe while the rest of the jungle's residents think his crazy talk about a tiny world is upsetting the balance of things; the Mayor has to persuade a city where nothing has ever gone wrong that there could be some very big trouble ahead. This is a great kids movie that won't bore grown-ups: both Horton and the Mayor's stories are equally interesting, the jokes are almost always funny, the serious moments aren't belaboured, and while the tone is a little uneven (in padding out Suess's short book liberties have been taken and they don't always fit) there's a lot more good than bad. It's not perfect - there's a final musical number that's just wrong - but for once a bit of Dr Suess' magic has made it onto the screen.
Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #422)