Jim Carrey provides the voice and most of the comedy as a loveable, sweet elephant named Horton who discovers another, whole world the size of a speck.
Based on the 50-year-old children's book by Dr. Seuss, the story is one of faith more than anything. Horton is a heretic. He holds an orthodox belief, one that is in fact opposed by the established authority.
The established authority, in this case, is an uptight, slightly Stalin-like Kangaroo. The Kangaroo apparently isn't a very religious animal. Voiced by comedic-actress Carol Burnett, the Kangaroo says, "If you can't see it, hear it, or feel it, it doesn't exist."
If the Kangaroo is the atheist, then Horton is the prophet. But Horton is far from being a Moses or a Mohammed. Horton is more like a Copernicus or Christopher Columbus.
Except, instead of saying the world is round and revolves around the Sun, Horton says there's a second world, and it and all the people who live on it are so small that they can all fit on a speck of dust, stuck on a clover.
It's too small to be seen without perhaps the use of an electron microscope, but with Horton's huge pachyderm ears to hear the occasional loud noises made by the people on the speck, he believes it exists.
The other animals in the jungle, though cute and cuddly, don't have those huge, super-sensitive lobes, so they don't believe Horton's story of the microscopic world within theirs. It's okay. Nobody much believed Copernicus or Columbus either.
For Horton, it doesn't matter, if anyone believes. He's content to be singular in his beliefs and thoughts. He's not trying to proselytize or force his message on any one. But like Stalin, that's still too much for the Kangaroo.
She forms an angry mob and even hires a villainous vulture to go after Horton and stop him by destroying the clover, and thus the microscopic world. Horton has to protect it.
Meanwhile, in that microscopic world named Whoville, which contains characters that look very much like those we've seen in other Dr. Seuss movies like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Cat in the Hat, unlike Horton, the Mayor does care if anyone believes him.
The Mayor of Whoville, with the help of a drainpipe that has an old phonograph horn attached, can hear and talk to Horton. At first, he's skeptical of the fact that his whole world is the size of a speck, but it doesn't take long for the Mayor, voiced by Steve Carrell, to recognize the obvious signs, even if everyone else denies it.
Now, in terms of other animated films involving elephants, this new feature doesn't measure up to Dumbo or even Pooh's Heffalump Movie. It's simply not as well written. The plot really isn't that interesting. I was never really convinced of Whoville's danger, before Horton's intervention, and the characters aren't given that much due. More detail is given to the look of the animation than the actual characters here.
I like the message of the movie, the message that just because something or someone is small doesn't mean they're insignificant. Being that this film's opening weekend coincided with St. Patrick's Day, it's the perfect message for leprechauns. Yoda and those in the Lollipop guild might also get a kick out of it too.
But, besides being repeated in rhyme by narrator Charles Osgood from CBS' Sunday Morning program, I get the notion that this message isn't the real thrust of this film. Generally preaching acceptance, tolerance, and faith, you get less of a structured moral lesson here.
The film is mainly an excuse for Jim Carrey and Steve Carrell, two gifted comedic actors, to be let loose and deliver their familiar brands of humor. It's basically just a vehicle for them to shine, which they do.
Carrey, who has been described as a human cartoon, is big and broad, and has a SNL, sketch, and stagy comedy appeal, a reduced Robin Williams a la Aladdin. How appropriate he should play an elephant!
Carell, who is more low-key, has a more dry, subtle and subversive wit and way about him. He can but doesn't need to be big and loud, jumping up and down like an extroverted clown. How appropriate he should play the mayor of the smallest town on earth!
There are some funny moments and generally hilarious bits. The vocal work is convincing and what really carries the film. Carrey will evoke laughter, especially during the bridge crossing and dentist scene, as well as the Pokemon interlude.
Three Stars out of Five
Rated G- Suitable for All Ages
Running Time: 1 hr. and 28 mins.