Cover Art and Menus: 7/10
Dr. Seuss has a style all his own, and the cover is a classic cartoon shot of Horton, in all his Seuss glory. It is colorful, fun, and a great cover for this collection of Dr. Seuss shorts. Anyone who has seen the Grinch will recognize the style of Dr. Seuss immediately. It is hard not to get excited about a Seuss film. I also thought the DVD itself had a great shot of just a bit of Horton’s face, and his trunk holding up his speck of dust. It was really even better than the cover art.
The menu in the movie is the same shot that is on the DVD itself. It is a great shot, but it may be a bit static for the DVD menu. There are not a lot of choices on the DVD menu, so perhaps it is better to keep it simple. The colors are remarkable throughout the film, and the cover and menus are just bright and cheery.
There are not a whole lot of “extras” included here, and the cover lists the additional animated stories as extras, which I find a tad bizarre. I can’t see the release of Horton Hears a Who! alone to be worthy of a full DVD (it runs at 26 minutes in total), but apparently these additional Seuss tales are to be viewed as extras, so I will include them here.
Daisy-Head Mayzie is a tale about a girl who finds that a Daisy has grown from the top of her head. She finds herself an outcast, as her friends all make fun of her, but the flower also brings her fame. The story is narrated by cat in the hat. As with most Dr. Seuss stories, things turn out to be okay in the end.
Horton Hatches an Egg is another story about our favorite elephant, Horton. In this story Horton is duped into sitting on a bird’s egg, while the mother takes a vacation. A strange tale, but one of my favorites on this disk. This short is just that, as it barely scrapes 10 minutes in length.
Finally, the last short is Dr. Seuss’ Butter Battle Book, which tells the tale of two warring enemies; the Yooks and the Zooks. They just can not seem to get along, because the Yooks butter their bread “butter side up” while the Zooks are a “butter side down” type of species. The war escalates to larger and larger weapons, and it certainly deals with Dr. Seuss’ take on nuclear war. It is a great children’s tale that tells of war and proliferation through butter and bread.
The additional shorts are not nearly of the same quality as Horton Hears a Who!, but they are a nice addition to the disc itself.
There is a rather ridiculous 90 minute extra entitled In Search of Dr. Seuss, in which various actors play different roles who are all piecing a puzzle together about finding Dr. Seuss. The different characters are played by actors such as Christopher Lloyd, Robin Williams, Patrick Stewart, and Kathy Najimy. It is too long for kids, and too goofy for adults.
Also included is a sing-a-long from the main film, which will have you singing about being nice to your smaller friends for weeks.
The Movie: 6/10
Horton Hears a Who! is a classic tale by Dr. Seuss where Horton, a very large elephant who is casually enjoying a nice swim in a river hears someone calling out to him from a speck of dust. That someone is Dr. Hoovy, who is a Who (that last sentence is a bit strange, but this is Dr. Seuss.) The Whos live on the speck of dust, and are the same group of Whos from the classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas tale, but this time, it is shown that their entire existence is on the small speck of dust, which is in danger of falling into the river, drowning all of the Whos. Horton has large ears and therefore he is the only one who can hear the Who’s calling out for help, so the rest of the animals around Horton think that he has gone mental. As a result, they end up chastising Horton, and trying to take his speck of dust, as they don’t think there is anything, or anyone to save. The whole group of animals decides they need to get rid of the speck and lock Horton up.
As the story unfolds, Horton works to save his friends from the various animals that are convinced that Horton is a menace to their society. It is a rather strange tale, and it is one that seemed a bit dated. I remember the tale from when I was a child, and I don’t think that I loved it back then either. The story itself is a bit convoluted, and it doesn’t seem to flow in a way that the Grinch story does. There are parts that are great, but overall I was not impressed. The visuals were great, but many of the songs were a bit strange, and not really child friendly (at one point the Wickersham Brothers, an evil trio of monkeys, accuses Horton of trying to ruin the economy, which I thought was a bit over the heads of many of the prospective viewers.)
I also want to point out that the audio levels made it hard to follow at times. I touch on this in the Video and Audio section below, but at times the 2.1 soundtrack made understanding the lyrics a bit tough, as the mix was a bit off. This of course made following the story a bit difficult. It wasn’t horrible, but if I was struggling a bit, I can’t imagine kids are going to be able to keep up.
Overall I liked Horton Hears a Who!, and I am looking forward to the CG version, but I was not overly impressed with this release as a whole.
Audio & Video: 5/10
Horton Hears a Who! Is being re-released to pave the way for the full length CG film release that is out today, March 14, 2008. The Deluxe edition has been cleaned up and it looks great on standard DVD. This is an older release, so the video is not 100% crisp and clean like could be expected for a recent animated release, but it does look good. The colors are vibrant and the movie is very clean. It really is nicely redone.
The audio is a different story for me. I found that the levels were very off. The music seemed to overtake the lyrics in many sections, and the fact that this was a 2.1 release made it seem just plain dry. I understand that this is an old cartoon, but it just amplified the strangeness of the story, and it was a bit frustrating.
With the main feature running a short 26 minutes, I can’t imagine anyone buying this DVD release unless they are a true Dr. Seuss fan. This is not a story that most kids will want to see over and over, and with it being so short, with so few extras, I would say rent this if you must. It seems a bit like trying to cash in on the Horton hype.
Overall Score 5/10