Horton Hears a Who! (film)

Horton Hears a Who!

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jimmy Hayward
Steve Martino
Produced by Bob Gordon
Bruce Anderson
Screenplay by Cinco Paul
Ken Daurio
Based on Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss
Starring Jim Carrey
Steve Carell
Narrated by Charles Osgood
Music by John Powell
Edited by Tim Nordquist
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • March 14, 2008 (2008-03-14)
Running time
86 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $85 million
Box office $297.1 million

Horton Hears a Who! (also known as Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!) is a 2008 American computer-animated fantasy adventure comedy film based on the book of the same name by Dr. Seuss. Produced by Blue Sky Studios, the film was directed by Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino, and written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio. It features the voices of Jim Carrey and Steve Carell.[1]

Released theatrically on March 14, 2008, by 20th Century Fox, it grossed $297 million on a budget of $85 million. The film is the third Dr. Seuss feature film adaptation,[2] the second Dr. Seuss film starring Jim Carrey after How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000),[3] and the first adaptation of a Dr. Seuss work fully animated using CGI technology.[3]


A dust speck is dislodged from its obscure place and sent adrift through the Jungle of Nool. At the same time, Horton the elephant (Jim Carrey), the jungle's eccentric nature teacher, takes a dip in the pool. The dust speck floats past him in the air, and he hears a tiny yelp coming from it. Believing that an entire society of microscopic creatures are living on that speck, he places it atop of a clover. Horton finds out the speck harbors the city of Whoville and its inhabitants, the Whos, led by Mayor Ned McDodd (Steve Carell).

He has a wife, Sally (Amy Poehler), 96 daughters (whose names all begin with the letter H), and one teenage son named JoJo (Jesse McCartney). Despite being the oldest and next in line for the mayoral position, JoJo doesn't want to be the next mayor, and because he's so scared of disappointing his father, never speaks. Once Horton begins carrying the speck with him, the city starts experiencing strange phenomena (earthquakes and changes in the weather), and the Mayor finds his attempts to caution Whoville challenged by the Town Council, led by the opportunistic yet condescending Chairman (Dan Fogler).

After he makes contact with Horton, the Mayor finds out from Dr. Mary Lou LaRue (Isla Fisher) that Whoville will be destroyed if Horton does not find a "safer, more stable home". Horton resolves (with the help of his best friend Morton the mouse (Seth Rogen) to place the speck atop Mt. Nool, the safest place in the jungle. The head of the jungle, the Sour Kangaroo (Carol Burnett), disbelieving Horton's beliefs and resenting him for overshadowing her authority, attempts several times to demand that Horton give up the speck, but Horton ignores her demands. Also taking force toward Horton are the Wickersham Brothers, a group of monkeys who love making misery. Eventually, the Kangaroo enlists a vulture named Vlad Vladikoff (Will Arnett) to get rid of the speck by force.

Vlad manages to steal the clover away from Horton and drops it into a massive field of identical pink clovers, causing an apocalyptic tremor in Whoville. After unsuccessfully picking nearly 3,000,000 clovers, Horton eventually recovers the clover (exactly the 3,000,000th clover). The Kangaroo eventually finds out (thanks by Mrs. Quilligan (Jaime Pressly) that Horton still has the speck, and decides to rally the jungle community into fighting Horton, saying that Horton's goal will lead to anarchy. Upon cornering him, the Kangaroo offers Horton an escape from punishment by renouncing Whoville's existence.

When Horton refuses, in spite of his heartfelt speech, the Kangaroo orders the animals to rope and cage him, and to have the speck and the Whos destroyed in a pot of boiling beezlenut oil. The Mayor enlists all of his people to make noise by shouting "We are here!", as well as playing a variety of instruments, so the animals may hear them, assisted by Jojo's "Symphonophone", an invention which creates a huge musical contribution (which reveals that JoJo's "true" passion is music), but still fails to penetrate the surface of the speck.

As Horton lies beaten and captured, the Kangaroo easily takes the clover, and releases it. Meanwhile, JoJo grabs the horn used to project Horton's voice, runs up the highest tower and screams "YOPP!", breaking through the sound barrier just seconds before the speck hits the oil.

The Kangaroo's son, Rudy (Josh Flitter) grabs the clover and returns it to Horton. The animals finally hear the Whos and realize the truth and isolate the Kangaroo for tricking them. While being praised for his integrity by his neighbors, Horton even forgives the devastated Kangaroo, and she befriends him with a makeshift umbrella for Whoville. Here, the people of Whoville and the animals of Nool gather in song and recite the chorus from "Can't Fight This Feeling". The film ends with the narrator (Charles Osgood) revealing that the Jungle of Nool, or rather Earth, is just one speck, like Whoville, among numerous others, floating in outer space.

Voice cast


In March 2005, as Blue Sky Studios was completing Robots, the studio started courting Dr. Seuss' widow Audrey Geisel on getting the adaptation rights for Horton Hears a Who!.[4] The art director for Robots, Steve Martino, along with story consultant and additional scene director Jimmy Hayward,[5] created a model of protagonist Horton and some animation tests to showcase their design ideas to Geisel,[4] who eventually agreed on "a seven-figure deal" for both the book and its predecessor Horton Hatches the Egg. Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio were then hired to write the script,[6] to be directed by Hayward and Martino with a set release date of 2008.[5]

Geisel was credited as a supervising producer and watched production up close,[4] and also gave the directors full access to her late husband's archives, and thus they investigated on his original sketches, 3-D sculptures, work done for The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T and even memos Dr. Seuss traded with Chuck Jones during the production of the Grinch TV special.[7] For references in doing the character animation, along with footage of the voice actors performing their lines, the Blue Sky animators recorded themselves performing the script in an "acting room" to see what of their body language could translate well into the film.[8]

To make Horton different from the mammoths Blue Sky worked with in the Ice Age series, the elephant would at times walk on two legs, in a way that it looked like "a fat man in an elephant suit". While the design had a major difference from the original book, with a bigger mouth to allow for wider facial expressions like those of Jim Carrey, as the directors noticed Horton's design in the book varied according to his emotion, the 3D wireframe tried to allow for the same effects.[9]


The original score for the film's soundtrack album was composed by John Powell. A soundtrack, consisting of the film's score, was released on March 25, 2008, by Varèse Sarabande.[10][11] Near the end of the picture, the cast comes together and sings the song, "Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon.[12]

Horton Hears a Who!
(Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Film score by John Powell
Released March 25, 2008
Genre Soundtrack
Length 59:56
Label Varèse Sarabande
Producer John Powell

Others songs featured in the film are:[13]

Title Performer
"Can't Fight This Feeling" Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Carol Burnett, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, and Dan Fogler
"Quickie" Thomas Foyer
"Swingville Sashay" Muff & Rezz
"Agua Melao" Gilberto Candido
"The Blue Danube" Johann Strauß (as Johann Strauss II)


Critical reception

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 79% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 131 reviews. The site's consensus reads, "Horton Hears A Who! is both whimsical and heartwarming, and is the rare Dr. Seuss adaptation that stays true to the spirit of the source material."[14] Another review aggregator, Metacritic, calculated a score of 71 out of 100 based on 31 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[15] According to CinemaScore, the film version rated an "A-" on an "A+" to "F" scale.

In contrast, Brian Eggert of Deep Focus gave it one and a half stars out of four, criticizing its numerous pop-culture references, calling it a "mish-mash of incoherent babble" and claiming it ends up "reducing Seuss' otherwise admirable message to ordinary storytelling, when Seuss' work is anything but."[16]

Box office

Horton Hears a Who! was a box office success, grossing a total of $297,138,014 on a $85 million budget. $154,529,439 came from the United States and Canada, and $142,608,575 from other territories.[17]

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $45,012,998 in 3,954 theaters, averaging $11,384 per theater in the United States and Canada, and ranking #1 at the box office.[18]

The film previously had the 4th largest opening weekend in March, behind Ice Age, Ice Age: The Meltdown and 300, and as of September 2012, it ranks on the 15th place.[19] In the United States and Canada, Horton Hears a Who was also the #1 film its second weekend of release, grossing $24,590,596 over the Easter frame, in 3,961 theaters and averaging $6,208 per venue. It dropped to #2 in its third weekend grossing $17,740,106 in 3,826 theaters and averaging $4,637 per venue.


Horton Hears a Who!, like other Dr. Seuss creations, contains layered subtexts and messages. A major theme regards on learning about universal values between vastly different places and people, as shown by the quote "A person's a person, no matter how small". This is employed on many levels, primarily with Horton hearing a world in a speck, while also appearing with the Mayor's relationship with his son, and Jane Kangaroo learning the truth about Horton's beliefs.[20]

The movie characters display traditional gender roles. According to NPR host and father of three daughters Peter Sagal, "In a new subplot added by the filmmakers, the mayor of Whoville has 96 daughters. He has one son. Guess who gets all his attention? Guess who saves the day?"[21]


Award Category Nominee Result
Annie Award[22] Best Animated Effects Alen Lai Nominated
Best Character Animation in a Feature Production Jeff Gabor
Best Character Design in an Animated Feature Production Sang Jun Lee
Best Music in an Animated Feature Production John Powell
Best Writing in an Animated Feature Production Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio
ASCAP Award[23] Top Box Office Films John Powell for Bolt, Hancock and Jumper Won
Golden Trailer Award[24] Best Animation/Family TV Spot for "Whomongous" Horton Hears a Who! Nominated
IFMCA Award[25] Best Original Score for an Animated Feature Film John Powell
Golden Reel Award[26] Best Sound Editing - Sound Effects, Foley, Music, Dialogue and ADR Animation in a Feature Film Randy Thom (supervising sound editor, sound designer)
Dennis Leonard (supervising sound editor)
Jonathan Null (supervising dialogue/adr editor)
Sue Fox (supervising foley editor)
Thomas A. Carlson (music editor)
Steve Slanec (dialogue editor)
Colette D. Dahanne (sound effects editor)
Pete Horner (sound effects editor)
Kyrsten Mate (sound effects editor)
Mac Smith (sound effects editor)
Jeremy Bowker (foley editor)
Andrea Gard (foley editor)
Ronni Brown (foley artist)
Ellen Heuer (foley artist)
Dennie Thorpe (foley artist)
Jana Vance (foley artist)
OFCS Award[27] Best Animated Feature Horton Hears a Who!
Satellite Award[28] Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media Horton Hears a Who!
Best Original Score John Powell
Young Artist Award[29] Best Performance in a Voice-Over Role - Young Actress Selena Gomez, Shelby Adamowsky and Joey King

Home media release

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! was released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 9, 2008. Three versions of the DVD are available: a single disc edition, a 2-disc special edition, and a gift set packaged with a Horton plush.[30]

A Blu-ray combo pack with a DVD and digital copy was released on October 11, 2011.[31] The home media included an Ice Age-related short film, Surviving Sid.

In the United States, the film earned $77,630,768 from DVD sales and $180,434 from Blu-ray sales for a total of $77,811,202 in video sales.[32]


  1. "Horton Hears a Who!". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  2. Bowles, Scott (September 13, 2006). "'Horton' shakes off the dust". USA Today. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  3. 1 2 Lee, Chris (March 16, 2008). "Now they can laugh". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  4. 1 2 3 Carnevale, Rob (2008). "Dr Seuss' Horton Hears A Who - Chris Wedge and Mike Thumeier interview". IndieLondon. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  5. 1 2 Fleming, Michael (December 7, 2005). "Helmers hear a 'Who'". Variety. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  6. Fleming, Michael (March 9, 2005). "Fox woos Seuss with new 'Who'". Variety. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  7. Orange, B. Alan (March 12, 2008). "EXCLUSIVE: Horton Director Jimmy Hayward Hears a Who!". MovieWeb. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  8. "Bringing the Characters to Life", Horton Hears a Who! DVD
  9. "The Elephant in the Room: Jim Carrey", Horton Hears a Who! DVD
  10. "Dr. Seuss: Horton Hears a Who! 8Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". AllMusic. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  11. "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears A Who!". Varese Sarabande. Archived from the original on February 17, 2011. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  12. Lowe, Scott (March 13, 2008). "Horton Hears a Who! Review". IGN. Archived from the original on March 20, 2013. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  13. "Horton Hears a Who! - Production Notes" (PDF) (in Italian). Mymovies. p. 34. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  14. "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  15. "Horton Hears a Who!". Metacritic. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  16. Eggert, Brian (March 14, 2008). "Dr. Suess' Horton Hears a Who! (2008)". Deep Focus Review. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  17. "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  18. "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! (2008) - Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 16, 2008.
  19. "Top March Opening Weekends at the Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 16, 2008.
  20. "A Person is a Person: A Universal Message", Horton Hears a Who! DVD
  21. Sagal, Peter (April 2, 2008). "Gender Inequity in 'Whoville'". NPR. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  22. "'Kung Fu Panda' leads Annie noms". Variety. December 1, 2008. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  23. "ASCAP Honors Top Film and Television Musiccomposers and Songwriters at 24th Annual Awards Celebration" (Press release). ASCAP. May 12, 2009. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  24. "9th Annual Golden Trailer Award Nominees". The Golden Trailer Awards. Archived from the original on April 16, 2009. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  25. Brevet, Brad (January 16, 2009). "International Film Music Critics Announce 2008 Nominees". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  26. "2009 Golden Reel Award Nominees: Feature Films". Motion Picture Sound Editors. Archived from the original on February 27, 2009. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  27. "2008 Awards (12th Annual)". Online Film Critics Society. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  28. Kroll, Justin (November 30, 2008). "Satellites soar for Meryl Streep". Variety. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  29. "2009 Nominations & Recipients". Young Artist Awards. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  30. McCutcheon, David (July 28, 2008). "Horton Hears A Blu". IGN. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  31. "Horton Hears a Who! Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  32. "Horton Hears a Who". The Numbers. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
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