Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!

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

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 64 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 72 reviews

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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
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 a... Continue reading
Adult Written bys b April 5, 2018

Language not appropriate.

Yes, I read the warnings about "boob", "idiot", etc. I did not expect the words to be repeated multiple times. If my 5 year old had heard a... Continue reading
Kid, 5 years old May 13, 2012

We may finish watching this in a couple of years...

I watched half of this with my five year old and I thought the whole idea of the Whos' world being destroyed was a little dark and heavy for a preschooler... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byJohn Vitor September 15, 2020

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

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