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Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! Movie Poster Image
Adorable 'toon fun for all, no matter how small.
  • G
  • 2008
  • 86 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 59 reviews

Kids say

age 4+
Based on 67 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

May encourage kids to read the book.

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." Themes include compassion and integrity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

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. Insults such as "boob," "idiot," and "stupid."


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

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! 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, 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 some mild potty humor and name-calling ("boob," "idiot," and "stupid"). Vlad, the slightly scary bird, is funnier than he is disturbing.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byrubylarkin April 9, 2008


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 hap... Continue reading
Parent of a 8 year old Written bycrystalp April 9, 2008


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 appr... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old November 8, 2009


This movie is a very funny movie to watch with your family. Young children are garetied to like it. Even some adults will get atleast one laugh out of it. SOME... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old December 30, 2010
I like this movie alot I just watched it in the car, I hope that everyone reading this review sees it I Like it.

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?

With their impeccable timing and incredibly expressive voices, Carrey and Carell are the perfect combo to play Horton and the Mayor. 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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the messages in Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!. 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?

  • How do the characters in Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! demonstrate compassion and integrity? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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