Horton Hears a Who! (film)

Horton Hears a Who! (also known as Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!) is a 2008 American computer animated adventure comedy film based on the book of the same name by Dr. Seuss, produced by Blue Sky Studios and distributed by 20th Century Fox. Directed by Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino in their directorial debuts, the film's screenplay was written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, and features the voices of Jim Carrey and Steve Carell as Horton the Elephant and Mayor Ned McDodd, respectively, alongside Carol Burnett, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, Isla Fisher, and Amy Poehler.[4] John Powell composed the film's music.

Horton Hears a Who!
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJimmy Hayward
Steve Martino
Produced byBob Gordon
Bruce Anderson
Screenplay byCinco Paul
Ken Daurio
Based onHorton Hears a Who!
by Dr. Seuss
StarringJim Carrey
Steve Carell
Will Arnett
Seth Rogen
Isla Fisher
Amy Poehler
Carol Burnett
Narrated byCharles Osgood
Music byJohn Powell
Edited byTim Nordquist
Distributed by20th Century Fox[1]
Release date
  • March 14, 2008 (2008-03-14)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$85 million[3]
Box office$297.1 million[3]

The film was released theatrically on March 14, 2008, and grossed $297 million on a budget of $85 million. Horton Hears a Who! was the third Dr. Seuss feature film adaptation,[5] the first adaptation to be fully animated,[6] and the second Dr. Seuss film starring Jim Carrey after How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000).[6]


A dust speck is dislodged from its obscure place and sent adrift through the Jungle of Nool. At the same time, Horton the Elephant, the jungle's eccentric nature teacher, takes a dip in the pool. The dust speck floats past him in the air, and he hears a tiny yelp coming from it. Believing that an entire society of microscopic creatures are living on that speck, he gives chase to it before placing it on top of a flower . Horton finds out the speck harbors the city of Whoville and its inhabitants, the Whos, led by Mayor Ned McDodd, whose family includes his wife Sally, 96 daughters whose names all begin with the letter H, and one teenage son named JoJo. Despite being the oldest child and next in line for the mayoral position, JoJo doesn't want to be the next mayor, and because he is so scared of disappointing his father, he never talks. Once Horton begins carrying the speck with him, the city starts experiencing strange phenomena (earthquakes and changes in the weather), and the Mayor finds his attempts to caution Whoville challenged by the Town Council, led by the opportunistic yet condescending Chairman.

After he makes contact with Horton, the Mayor finds out from Dr. Mary Lou LaRue that Whoville will be destroyed if Horton does not find a "safer, more stable home". With the help of his best friend Morton, Horton decides to place the speck atop Mt. Nool, the safest place in the jungle. The head of the jungle, the Sour Kangaroo, demands numerous times that Horton give up the speck for overshadowing her authority, but Horton refuses. Also taking force toward Horton are the Wickersham Brothers, a group of monkeys who like to cause anybody havoc and misery. Eventually, the Kangaroo enlists a sinister vulture named Vlad Vladikoff to get rid of the speck by force.

After a few failed attempts, Vlad manages to steal the flower away from Horton and drops it into a massive field of identical pink flowers causing an apocalyptic tremor in Whoville. After unsuccessfully picking 2,999,999 flowers Horton eventually recovers the flower (exactly the 3,000,000th flower). The Kangaroo eventually finds out, thanks to Mrs. Quilligan, that Horton still has the speck, and she rallies the jungle community into fighting Horton, saying that his goal will lead to anarchy. Upon cornering him, the Kangaroo offers Horton a final chance to renounce Whoville's existence. Horton refuses and, despite the heartfelt speech that he gives, the Kangaroo orders the animals to rope and cage him, and to have the speck and Whoville destroyed in a pot of beezlenut oil. The Mayor enlists all of his people to make noise by shouting "We are here!", as well as playing a variety of instruments, so that all the animals may hear them, assisted by JoJo's "Symphonophone", an invention which creates a huge musical contribution and reveals that JoJo's "true" passion is music, but still fails to penetrate the surface of the speck.

The Kangaroo snatches the flower from Horton and drops it in the pot. Meanwhile, JoJo grabs the horn used to project Horton's voice, runs up the highest tower, and screams "YOPP!", breaking through the sound barrier just seconds before the speck hits the oil. Rudy, the Kangaroo's son, grabs the flower and proclaims he can hear it, and the other animals of Nool notice that they can hear it too. Despite his mother's objections, Rudy returns the flower to Horton. Realizing the truth about the Whos' existence, the animals isolate the Kangaroo for tricking them. While being praised for his integrity by his neighbors, Horton even forgives the devastated Kangaroo, and she befriends him with a makeshift umbrella for Whoville. The film ends with the people of Whoville and the animals of Nool gathering to recite the chorus from "Can't Fight This Feeling", with the narrator revealing that the Jungle of Nool (and Earth as a whole) is just one speck, like Whoville, among numerous others, floating in outer space.

Voice cast

  • Jim Carrey as Horton, an outgoing, eccentric, big-hearted, loving, sweet, and thoughtful elephant and teacher in the Jungle of Nool. Horton has no tusks, lives by himself and possesses acute hearing abilities.
  • Steve Carell as Mayor Ned McDodd, the mayor of Whoville. He has 96 daughters, 1 son named JoJo and a wife named Sally.
  • Carol Burnett as Sour Kangaroo, an egomaniacal kangaroo who mistrusts Horton's inquisitive nature as a threat to her legal authority over Nool.
  • Will Arnett as Vlad Vladikoff, a scary, savage, eccentric Russian-accented[7] vulture hired by the Sour Kangaroo to steal Horton's clover.
  • Seth Rogen as Morton, a mouse who is Horton's best friend in the Jungle of Nool.
  • Dan Fogler as The Chairman, a councilman dedicated to Whoville tradition and mistrustful of Mayor McDodd.
    • Fogler also voices Yummo Wickersham, the leader of the Wickersham ape tribe.
  • Isla Fisher as Dr. Mary Lou LaRue, a professor at Who U.
  • Jonah Hill as Tommy, a tiger and one of Horton's students.
  • Amy Poehler as Sally O'Malley, Mayor McDodd's wife and mother to Jojo and her 96 daughters.
  • Jaime Pressly as Mrs. Quilligan, a bird and Jessica's mother.
  • Charles Osgood as The Narrator
  • Jesse McCartney as JoJo McDodd, Mayor McDodd's quiet son.
  • Josh Flitter as Rudy Kangaroo, Sour Kangaroo's son.
  • Niecy Nash as Miss Yelp, Mayor McDodd's assistant.
  • Laura Ortiz as Jessica Quilligan, a bird, Mrs. Quilligan's daughter and one of Horton's students.
  • Joey King as Katie, a cute, but eccentric little baby yak.
  • Bill Farmer as Willie, a tiger and Tommy's dad.
  • Heather Goldenhersh as a Who Girl
  • Marshall Efron and Tim Nordquist as the Wickersham Guards.


In March 2005, as Blue Sky Studios was completing Robots, the studio started courting Dr. Seuss' widow Audrey Geisel on getting the adaptation rights for Horton Hears a Who!.[8][2] The art director for Robots, Steve Martino, along with story consultant and additional scene director Jimmy Hayward,[9] created a model of protagonist Horton and some animation tests to showcase their design ideas to Geisel,[8] who eventually agreed on "a seven-figure deal" for both the book and its predecessor Horton Hatches the Egg. Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio were then hired to write the script,[10] to be directed by Hayward and Martino with a set release date of 2008.[9]

Geisel was credited as a supervising producer and watched production up close,[8] and also gave the directors full access to her late husband's archives, and thus they investigated on his original sketches, 3-D sculptures, work done for The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T and even memos Dr. Seuss traded with Chuck Jones during the production of the Grinch TV special.[11] For references in doing the character animation, along with footage of the voice actors performing their lines, the Blue Sky animators recorded themselves performing the script in an "acting room" to see what of their body language could translate well into the film.[12]

To make Horton different from the mammoths Blue Sky worked with in the Ice Age series, he would at times walk on two legs, in a way that it looked like "a fat man in an elephant suit". While the design had a major difference from the original book, with a bigger mouth to allow for wider facial expressions like those of Jim Carrey, as the directors noticed Horton's design in the book varied according to his emotion, the 3D wireframe tried to allow for the same effects.[13]


The original score for the film's soundtrack album was composed by John Powell. A soundtrack consisting of the film's score was released on March 25, 2008 by Varèse Sarabande.[14][15] Near the end of the picture, the cast comes together and sings the song, "Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon.[16]

Horton Hears a Who!
(Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Film score by
ReleasedMarch 25, 2008
LabelVarèse Sarabande
ProducerJohn Powell

Others songs featured in the film are:[17]

Title Performer
"Can't Fight This Feeling"Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett, Dan Fogler, Seth Rogen, Will Arnett and Jesse McCartney
"Quickie"Thomas Foyer
"Swingville Sashay"Muff & Rezz
"Agua Melao"Gilberto Candido
"The Blue Danube"Johann Strauß (as Johann Strauss II)


Critical reception

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 79% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 132 reviews. The site's consensus reads, "Horton Hears A Who! is both whimsical and heartwarming, and is the rare Dr. Seuss adaptation that stays true to the spirit of the source material."[18] Another review aggregator, Metacritic, calculated a score of 71 out of 100 based on 31 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[19] According to CinemaScore, the film version rated an "A−" on an "A+" to "F" scale.

Box office

Horton Hears a Who! grossed a total of $297 million on a $85 million budget. $155 million came from the United States and Canada, and $143 million from other territories.[20]

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $45 million in 3,954 theaters, averaging $11,384 per theater in the United States and Canada, and ranking #1 at the box office.[21]

The film previously had the fourth-largest opening weekend in March, behind Ice Age, Ice Age: The Meltdown and 300, and as of September 2012, it ranks on the 15th place.[22] In the United States and Canada, Horton Hears a Who! was also the #1 film its second weekend of release, grossing $25 million over the Easter frame, in 3,961 theaters and averaging $6,208 per venue. It dropped to #2 in its third weekend grossing $17.8 million in 3,826 theaters and averaging $4,637 per venue.


Horton Hears a Who!, like other Dr. Seuss creations, contains layered subtexts and messages. A major theme regards learning about universal values between vastly different places and people, as shown by the quote "A person's a person, no matter how small". This is employed on many levels, primarily with Horton hearing a world in a speck, while also appearing with the Mayor's relationship with his son, and Sour Kangaroo learning the truth about the speck.[23]

The movie characters display traditional gender roles, according to NPR host Peter Sagal:

In a new subplot added by the filmmakers, the mayor of Whoville has 96 daughters. He has one son. Guess who gets all his attention? Guess who saves the day?[24]


Award Category Nominee Result
Annie Award[25] Best Animated Effects Alen Lai Nominated
Best Character Animation in a Feature Production Jeff Gabor
Best Character Design in an Animated Feature Production Sang Jun Lee
Best Music in an Animated Feature Production John Powell
Best Writing in an Animated Feature Production Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio
ASCAP Award[26] Top Box Office FilmsJohn Powell for Bolt, Hancock and JumperWon
Golden Trailer Award[27] Best Animation/Family TV Spot for "Whomongous" Horton Hears a Who! Nominated
IFMCA Award[28] Best Original Score for an Animated Feature Film John Powell
Golden Reel Award[29] Best Sound Editing - Sound Effects, Foley, Music, Dialogue and ADR Animation in a Feature FilmRandy Thom (supervising sound editor, sound designer)
Dennis Leonard (supervising sound editor)
Jonathan Null (supervising dialogue/adr editor)
Sue Fox (supervising foley editor)
Thomas A. Carlson (music editor)
Steve Slanec (dialogue editor)
Colette D. Dahanne (sound effects editor)
Pete Horner (sound effects editor)
Kyrsten Mate (sound effects editor)
Mac Smith (sound effects editor)
Jeremy Bowker (foley editor)
Andrea Gard (foley editor)
Ronni Brown (foley artist)
Ellen Heuer (foley artist)
Dennie Thorpe (foley artist)
Jana Vance (foley artist)
OFCS Award[30] Best Animated Feature Horton Hears a Who!
Satellite Award[31] Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media Horton Hears a Who!
Best Original Score John Powell
Young Artist Award[32] Best Performance in a Voice-Over Role - Young ActressSelena Gomez, Shelby Adamowsky and Joey King

Home media release

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! was released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 9, 2008. Three versions of the DVD are available: a single-disc edition, a 2-disc special edition, and a gift set packaged with a Horton plush.[33]

A Blu-ray combo pack with a DVD and digital copy was released on October 11, 2011.[34] The home media included an Ice Age-related short film, Surviving Sid.

In the United States, the film earned $77,630,768 from DVD sales and $180,434 from Blu-ray sales for a total of $77,811,202 in video sales.[35]


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  2. Baisley, Sarah (March 10, 2005). "Fox Animation, Blue Sky to Make CGI Horton Film". Animation World Network. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  3. "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! (2008)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
  4. "Horton Hears a Who!". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (WarnerMedia. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  5. Bowles, Scott (September 13, 2006). "'Horton' shakes off the dust". USA Today. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  6. Lee, Chris (March 16, 2008). "Now they can laugh". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  7. Chocano, Carina (March 14, 2008). "'Horton' Here Isn't a Hoot". Lost Angeles Times. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  8. Carnevale, Rob (2008). "Dr Seuss' Horton Hears A Who - Chris Wedge and Mike Thumeier interview". IndieLondon. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
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  10. Fleming, Michael (March 9, 2005). "Fox woos Seuss with new 'Who'". Variety. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  11. Orange, B. Alan (March 12, 2008). "EXCLUSIVE: Horton Director Jimmy Hayward Hears a Who!". MovieWeb. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
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  13. "The Elephant in the Room: Jim Carrey", Horton Hears a Who! DVD
  14. "Dr. Seuss: Horton Hears a Who! 8Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". AllMusic. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  15. "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears A Who!". Varese Sarabande. Archived from the original on February 17, 2011. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  16. Lowe, Scott (March 13, 2008). "Horton Hears a Who! Review". IGN. Archived from the original on March 20, 2013. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  17. "Horton Hears a Who! - Production Notes" (PDF) (in Italian). Mymovies. p. 34. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  18. "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  19. "Horton Hears a Who!". Metacritic. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  20. "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  21. "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! (2008) - Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 16, 2008.
  22. "Top March Opening Weekends at the Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 16, 2008.
  23. "A Person is a Person: A Universal Message", Horton Hears a Who! DVD
  24. Sagal, Peter (April 2, 2008). "Gender Inequity in 'Whoville'". NPR. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  25. "'Kung Fu Panda' leads Annie noms". Variety. December 1, 2008. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  26. "ASCAP Honors Top Film and Television Musiccomposers and Songwriters at 24th Annual Awards Celebration" (Press release). ASCAP. May 12, 2009. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  27. "9th Annual Golden Trailer Award Nominees". The Golden Trailer Awards. Archived from the original on April 16, 2009. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  28. Brevet, Brad (January 16, 2009). "International Film Music Critics Announce 2008 Nominees". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  29. "2009 Golden Reel Award Nominees: Feature Films". Motion Picture Sound Editors. Archived from the original on February 27, 2009. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  30. "2008 Awards (12th Annual)". Online Film Critics Society. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  31. Kroll, Justin (November 30, 2008). "Satellites soar for Meryl Streep". Variety. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  32. "2009 Nominations & Recipients". Young Artist Awards. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  33. McCutcheon, David (July 28, 2008). "Horton Hears A Blu". IGN. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  34. "Horton Hears a Who! Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  35. "Horton Hears a Who". The Numbers. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
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