Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!

  • Review Date: March 10, 2008
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 86 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Adorable 'toon fun for all, no matter how small.
  • Review Date: March 10, 2008
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 86 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Horton's two mottos are important life lessons: "A person's a person no matter how small," and "an elephant's word is 100 percent." Horton's behavior teaches kids about keeping promises and protecting those who can't protect themselves.

Violence & scariness

The Wickersham monkeys attack Horton with bananas and later participate in a near-lynching (led by the Kangaroo) of Horton and his Whoville speck. Vlad the bird is scary but also funny.

Sexy stuff

The mayor's wife tells him she loves him, and they hug.


The Kangaroo offers a few mild insults about Horton's behavior. A little mild potty humor.


Nothing in the film itself, but there are multiple merchandise tie-ins with IHOP, events at Target, contests in newspapers, etc.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is based on Dr. Seuss' beloved children's book. The book's wide fan base, coupled with the popularity of voice actors Jim Carrey and Steve Carell -- not to mention a great deal of marketing power -- should make most kids, especially those under 12, interested in seeing the film. Its message, like many of Seuss' tales, is one of inclusion and protecting those who can't protect themselves. There's not much in the way of iffy content, either, aside from a little mild potty humor. Even Vlad, the slightly scary bird, is funnier than he is disturbing.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In this adaptation of Dr. Seuss' classic Horton Hears a Who!, beloved elephant Horton is voiced by Jim Carrey. Horton, as any Seuss fan knows, lives peacefully in the Jungle of Nool until the day he hears a nearly inaudible call for help from a teeny, tiny speck, which he places on a clover. As it turns out, that speck is home to Whoville and its citizens, the Whos. Following his motto that "a person's a person, no matter how small," Horton promises the Mayor of Whoville (Steve Carell) to keep Whoville safe, even though residents of the Jungle, led by the sour Kangaroo (Carol Burnett) think Horton is either crazy or a liar and want to destroy the speck.

Is it any good?


Carrey and Carell are the perfect combo to play Horton and the Mayor. With their impeccable timing and incredibly expressive voices, they capture their characters' sense of awe and insecurity. The film expands the book's character pool to create a huge family for the Mayor: He has a wife (Amy Poehler) and 96 daughters. Also, Jo Jo (Jesse McCartney) is now the Mayor's loner, misunderstood son instead of a random Who. There are other differences between the original text and the film, but most work just fine to pad the story.

What's especially refreshing is that, by keeping the adaptation animated, there are no costumed actors to distract from the story's positive message. Horton firmly keeps the focus on his promise to protect the Whos because he believes in the inherent value of all beings. That's a powerful -- and difficult -- concept for very young kids to grasp, but somehow Dr. Seuss (channeled by this big-studio production) makes the lesson both approachable and very entertaining.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's message. Kids: What does Horton's motto -- "a person's a person, no matter how small" -- mean? How does he prove that he means it? Families can also discuss how the movie stacks up against the book. Are the extra characters and storylines in keeping with the spirit of Dr. Seuss' original? Do you like this animated adaptation better than live-action ones like The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas? Why or why not?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 13, 2008
DVD release date:December 8, 2008
Cast:Carol Burnett, Jim Carrey, Steve Carell
Director:Jimmy Hayward
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Book characters, Wild animals
Run time:86 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
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  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byrubylarkin April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


I realize that a book to film adaptation requires some "poetic license" but,to me, this was too much. My five year old was confused about what was happening in many scenes, especially Horton's determined trek to the top of the mountain. Horton turns into a japanese super hero...give me a break!! I overlooked the fact that Jim Carrey played Horton and I wished I hadn't. It's all about Jim Carrey... as usual. The vulture was scarry to my children.. and was there actually vulture in the book? I was hoping for sweet and innocent and got...very disappointing.
Parent of a 8 year old Written bycrystalp April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


I took my 5 and 7 year old children to see this movie, they enjoyed it, but I thought the movie had some inappropriate things for a G movie. I didn't appreciate the sarcasm from the characters and the way the mother kangaroo treated her child. I don't remember that being in the book, I think they took it too far. It was an okay movie, I won't buy it and I don't think it was worth the money I paid to see it.
Parent Written bymom2twogirls1boy July 24, 2009

Perfect for older kids, but not preschoolers.

This movie was ful of action, however I was unimpressed with the language for my daughters (4 and 20 months). While I was up and down chasing my 20 month old around (the movie definitely did not hold her attention after the first 20 minutes), I caught the use of the word "idiot" at least seven times before losing count. The word "boob" was also described in a degrading manner either to someone and/or about them. These are not words I would encourage my 4 year old to use. Also, some of the characters are menacing, scary, and downright rude, and my 4 year old hid her eyes several times throughout.
What other families should know
Too much swearing


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