All I Can Hear is Tired Groaning
That's why I consider this movie to be a piss-poor adaptation of his book about a loveable elephant who hears voice nobody else can. Horton Hears a Who! is crammed to the brim with action and movement, often becoming a loud and chaotic mess that takes no time to reflect on itself. It highlights the weirdness of the situation in a way that comes off more glib than clever. Most of all, it lacks sincerity. The movie's greatest crime is that it could not resist telling the story without poking fun at it, almost behind its back.
So why did we make a drinking game for this shlock? Because, as I've pointed out before, boring predictability is the number one ingredient to a fantastic drinking game.
"Horton Beers a Who!": The Rules
Shut up, my logic works.
1. Drink for Title Drops. For Easy Mode, that's every time someone says the word "Horton".
2. Drink when they drink.
3. Drink for Daddy Issues. JoJo has this rule covered.
4. Drink for snark. I'll elaborate on this.
5. Drink when Seuss' words are spoken. But drink TWICE when the movie tries to add in Seussian phrasing.
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink for Title Drops. For Medium Mode, that's every time someone says the word "Who". Do you know what Whos like to do? Say "Who".
2. Drink when someone gets injured. Horton can take a lot of damage before actually feeling any pain, so pay attention.
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when any behavior occurs that could be classified as "psychotic".
Velma Jenkies: Hears a What (Easy)
Seb: Hears a Why (Easy)
Pooh Daddy: Hears a How (Medium)
Some Guy: Hears a When (Medium)
Krissy Pappau: Hears a Where (Hard)
Big Moose: Hears a Whatever (Hard)
Help us vanquish this sham of a children's movie. Here's "Horton Hears a Who!"
Snark vs Sarcasm
"Horton Hears a Who!" is not entirely without merit. There's some cute gags. The character animation is really interesting, the colors are bright, there's nothing really OFFENSIVE about it. Even some of the additions to the plot are kind of cute, like the Mayor of Whoville's 96 Who-daughters who all have to ration out their time with their dad because he's so busy.
The 2000's were a very good decade for animation in America, especially children's animation. Horton was released in 2008, the same year that Disney Pixar unleashed "Wall-E" on the general public, and the same year that the acclaimed children's series "Avatar: The Last Airbender" wrapped its final season. This movie was in very good company, released in a decade where the general public was beginning to view animation as a legitimate art form that could be not only a valuable storytelling medium, but a medium that could appeal to children AND adults.
"Horton Hears a Who!" manages to take an elephant-sized step backwards when it comes to advancing animation as an art form, which may be unfair for a children's film, but there are children's movies that avoid the pitfalls this movie readily plunges into. For starters, "Horton," like many Blue Sky movies, is filled with snark.
What exactly do I mean when I say "snark?" Here's an example: In the middle of the movie, the Mayor of Whoville (Steve Carrell) panics because he's hearing a voice from above and there's a possibility he's going nuts. He's interrupted by his secretary, who tells him that he has an appointment for a Who-root canal (drink).
"You know," he calls to her retreating back, "Adding "Who" to the beginning of every word doesn't help anything! Just wastes time!"
It doesn't come off that way. The Mayor supposedly grew up in this town and has been presiding over it for years. This is not something he should be noticing. The syntax of his world should seem perfectly normal to him. It's like if Papa Smurf suddenly started questioning why "smurf" is such a versitile word around Smurf Village.
What sets "snark" apart from ordinary sarcasm is the idea that the character is "pointing" at something strange. Sarcasm has the potential to be clever and insightful. "Snark" is often unnecessary and obnoxious, because it's drawing attention to something that everyone already knows.
In another scene, Horton drops the famous "An elephant's faithful, 100 percent" line (drink) to explain why he's refusing to change his beliefs to his mouse-friend-thing Morton. Morton responds, "Just once, could you be faithful 99 percent of the time? I've never been 99 percent good at anything, and I think I'm awesome!"
Horton the Elephant: Psychopath
In the books, Horton's kind of dopey, but good hearted. Everyone in Nool has nice things to say about him, and he has a reputation for being dependable and clear-headed, which is why the whole thing about him hearing voices on a speck of dust comes as a shock to the rest of the jungle. He's letting them down, because he's suddenly professing irrational beliefs.
Horton in the movie...well...he's a little off his rocker.
I guess the basic character is still there, but movie Horton seems possessed by a frenetic energy. He can never sit still. All of the pop culture quotes in the movie come from him, which makes it seem like he's channeling this other world that nobody knows nothing about (schizophrenic ramblings). The character feels more like Robin Williams' Genie from Aladdin than Seuss' original character. Hell, Robin Williams would almost be a better casting fit. His brand of energy and bravado stems from a passionate need to share information. Jim Carrey is a talented man, but even when his shtick is rooted in drama, he's decidedly not down-to-earth in the slightest. Horton needs that sense of grounding for us to believe him as a protagonist.
Besides, Carrey's brand of crazy has always translated better to live action.
Now hold up. The entire point of this trek was to find a place where the Whos could be safe. Wouldn't the safest place for a clover be in a field full of other clovers? Yes, sure, that place on the top of Mount Nool would probably be better, but Horton didn't have to go and decimate an entire forest to achieve his goal.
"It seems like everything's okay," Big Moose said. "Horton's just being an egomaniacal prick."
The attempts to add "personality" to Horton's character don't make him more engaging. The attempts to spice up the plot don't make it move along faster. They make our lead character unlikable, and they cause the movie to drag.
But if Horton's behavior isn't wild enough for you to call "psychotic", look no further than one of the ancillary characters as a reason to drink for that rule.
What are you Trying to Say?
Played by Carol Burnett, the Kangaroo is kind of a...matriarch? Mayoress? Community organizer? I was never really clear on her role in the jungle, but whatever it is, she's sure able to get the denizens of Nool riled up pretty quickly. It doesn't take much effort at all for her to organize an angry mob, tie Horton up, and threaten to cage him and destroy Whoville by boiling the clover in a pot of boiling oile, all because his beliefs are different from hers.
"So basically," said Pooh Daddy," "This movie is saying, "conform to societal norms or we'll boil you alive.""
Geez, that escalated quickly. What an overblown villain. It's exactly this kind of treatment of children's books that makes me feel like adaptation is a dead art form. I'll bet the Sour Kangaroo was a lot more subtle in the original book.
You know it's been a while...what DID happen in the original book?
Okay, but that whole thing with the vulture earlier was ridiculous. Why insert a character like that?
Maybe I'm being too hard on this movie. The original source material has some of the same problems. The bad guys are kind of one-dimensional. And things get out of control FAST. And Horton frickin tears a forest down.
But while the film stays true to the action of the book, it does not stay true to the book's spirit. Seuss was good at creating epic stories because of the epic feelings behind them: redemption, love, honor, loyalty, and above all, sincerity. This movie only touches on those feelings. And while the packaging should indicate an upbeat re-telling that modern children can relate to, a nice box for the movie to come in shouldn't come at the expense of the heart of the story.
So yes, I meant what I said. And I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful, 100 percent.
Drink whenever classical music plays
I guess the movie blew its budget on star power and animation, because a lot of the soundtrack is public domain. Mostly in the action scenes.
Drink whenever a pop culture reference is made
And CHUG when the homage to Japanese anime comes out of nowhere halfway through the film.
Drink whenever reference is made to hearing or ears.
If you want to be especially mean, you can also drink when the homophone "here" is said.
For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). Video footage is taken and edited by Seb (Amy Yourd). All Horton Hears a Who! related photos are owned by Blue Sky Entertainment and 20th Century Fox.