A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that kids will see some cartoonish violence. Most notably, some characters cage Horton and almost throw the dust-speck world he discovers in a cauldron of boiling water. There are three more stories on the 2008 DVD: The Butter Battle Book (1989), Daisy-Head Mayzie (1995), and Horton Hatches the Egg. These three tales range in tone from light-hearted to heavy. Horton Hatches the Egg is the most kid-friendly, though it unfortunately ends with a throwaway gag where a fish shoots himself in the head. Preschoolers should enjoy the simplicity of the stories and the Seussian wordplay, although the dark messages, such as mutual destruction (The Butter Battle Book), and loneliness (Daisy-Headed Mayzie), will fly over their heads.
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What's the story?
Based on the Dr. Seuss book Horton Hears a Who, the main story concerns the selfless elephant Horton whose big ears allow him to hear a voice from a whole world that exists on a speck of dust perched on a flower. The other jungle animals think he's crazy and try to destroy the speck, making Horton and Whoville do everything to try to be heard. Then Horton shows he's "faithful 100 percent" in Horton Hatches the Egg, when a lazy bird asks him for a very big, embarrassing favor. In The Butter Battle Book, creatures known as Yooks and Zooks divided by a wall battle out how to butter their bread. In Daisy-Headed Mayzie little Mayzie McGrew unintentionally causes a sensation when a daisy flower sprouts from her hair.
Is it any good?
Of the four animated stories, of course Horton Hears a Who stands out. It's directed by Chuck Jones who did the excellent Grinch TV special four years earlier. The songs here aren't nearly as good, and the villains aren't as engaging (are those blue furry brothers supposed to be monkeys?), but Horton is such a great Seuss character that these things are easily forgivable. He's selfless in this story -- picking through thousands of pick flowers to find the lost one with his speck -- and loyal and sweetly maternal in his second story, Horton Hatches the Egg.
It's hard to figure out why Horton Hears a Who was repackaged with the other three stories, which can also be found in The Best of Dr. Seuss, but since the Whos are the highlight and Seuss stories are engaging in whatever form, it's worth watching.