Jim Carrey may be a veteran

“If you give a kid a character
that he’s never seen before, in
a world that he’s never seen
before, they will completely
lose themselves in an imaginary space. At the same time
they are getting all of those
wonderful lessons.”
- Jim Carrey
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Jim Carrey may be a veteran
of Dr. Seuss movies: he starred, under tons of heavy makeup, in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
But “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!” is the shape-shifting actor’s first
animated movie. And voicing the beloved children’s book’s gentle elephant
was a kind of epiphany for the manically inventive comic.
“The great thing about this is that you’re surrounded by artists who are
just as creative, if not more so, than you are. And I love being handled by
nerds!” Carrey says.
To apply those wings to the first computer-animated Seuss feature, the
writer-illustrator’s widow, Audrey Geisel, turned to Jimmy Hayward and
Steve Martino. Making their feature-length directing debut together, the
pair, who both worked previously on “Robots,” vowed to retain all of the
book’s story and as much of Seuss’ distinctive, wacky look as possible.
“We were unusually concerned with it,” Hayward notes. “Our No. 1 priority was to get that right.”This was both a simple and massive undertaking.
In his usual playful verse, Seuss (real name: Theodor Seuss Geisel) wrote a
short tale about an elephant named Horton, whose jungle pals think he has
gone nuts when he tells them a speck of dust is speaking to him.
Horton is right; on that speck is the microscopic world of Who-ville,
Steve Carell as the Mayor of Who-Ville
Jim Carrey as Horton
he classic 1954 Dr. Seuss tale Horton Hears
a Who makes its way to the big screen with the
help of two A-list celebs who voice the lead
roles in the animated family film. Jim Carrey
voices Horton, the elephant who shares his creative ideas with neighboring kids of the jungle
and is loved by all until he goes to great lengths
to hide a spec of dust from others after he hears
a faint cry for help from the world of Who-ville.
Question talked to Carrey and his co-star Steve
Carell, who plays the mayor of Who-ville desperate to save his people from the eminent destruction that will happen if Horton can’t protect them.
Q: How does “Horton” transcend a story for young people?
Carell: Wow. How does it transcend? You are being very heady right off the
bat. You just think about how it resonates, however much anything resonates in
a five or six-year-old. This is a book that I think resonates with kids. They don’t
understand the metaphors or the richness to it, but at the same time it resonates.
There is something very specific about the theme that I think even a little kid
can understand. That is that everyone deserves an equal footing in life. I think
that’s just a very basic tenant of being a creature of the world.
Carrey: That was a real good answer.
Carell: Then say the same thing.
John Smith
Staff Writer
Carrey: I think, as far as kids go, the thing that attracts them to this is
not the deeper concepts involved. It’s really just the fact that Seuss’s
creativity was so incredible. He was such an original. If you give a kid a
character that he’s never seen before, in a world that he’s never seen before, they will completely lose themselves in an imaginary space. At the
same time they are getting all of those wonderful lessons. In my own
personal experience, I just looked at it and I’ve always been drawn to
things that are different. I felt odd anyway, as a child, so anything odd I
went, “Oh, those are my people.” I dig those people. Myself, I listened
to them on tape so I didn’t really see the pictures.
Carol Burnett as Kangaroo
Seth Rogen as Morton
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A proud Mayor of Who-Ville.
If I ran the circus, the gang that
made the sturdy, witty, inventively
animated Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears
a Who! would get first dibs on
any future movie productions of
the Theodor Seuss Geisel canon.
Grinches have messed up recent
live-action adaptations beyond repair: I do not like The Cat in the Hat, I
do not like it, fancy that.
But this exuberant translation of the
1954 classic — from the Blue Sky
Studios folks who made Sisyphean
drama out of a squirrel and a nut in
Ice Age — is true to the Seuss vision,
with a contemporary integrity that
makes full use of CG power without
sacrificing the delicacy of the author’s
springy, zingy illustrations.
The new Horton proves that in the care
of a creative team prudent enough to
keep the focus on the book’s timeless lange of eccentricities and wethics and steer clear of meta joking or
condescension, there’s new juice to be
squeezed from old Seuss yet.
Certainly the excesses of the liveaction Cat and How the Grinch Stole
Christmas movies can’t eclipse the
durable genius of the good Doctor,
who, in Horton, has created one of
literature’s great pachyderm role models. One day ‘’in the Jungle of Nool,’’
as anyone who was ever an American
child may remember, the title elephant
hears the tiniest squeak coming from
the smallest speck floating through the
air, and discerns an entire universe in a
dust mote. ville he alone hears — city
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whose inhabitants have no idea that their happy, carefree existence depends on an invisible “sky elephant’s” ability to
protect their speck from his conformist, increasingly hostile
The book’s plot needed padding for a feature-length film,
and Seuss’ sometimes minimalist drawings elaborated upon
to fill a movie screen.
Steve Carell voices the Mayor of Who-ville, Horton’s contact, who now has 96 daughters and one son and is considered as crazy by his fellow citizens as Horton is by his. The
production team also went gleefully into greater detail with
Who-ville’s laws-of-physics-defying architecture and contraptions.
“I think CG is the way to do Seuss,” says co-director Martino. “The things that he created in his illustrations are what
computer animation is great at. We can make it look believable; in other words, we can put a texture on there that makes
it look like it would feel like stucco or brass or whatever.
“And you don’t have any restrictions. If we want to do a
flying staircase, we don’t have to worry about the engineering to support that.”
Of the live-action Seuss adaptations we’ve seen so far,
“Grinch” was critically drubbed but became very popular,
and nobody seemed to care much at all for “The Cat in the
But another reason to go the fully animated route with
“Horton” was, well, he’s an elephant. Can’t really put an actor in a fat suit with a radio-controlled trunk and expect it to
work very well.
Getting computers to properly animate such a massive
beast with parts that move like no real elephant’s was not
easy, though. “I felt it would be far more entertaining to have
Horton go from a quadruped to a biped,” Hayward says.
“That’s really a complicated rigging problem “” to have an
elephant be able to go from four legs to two and have that
big gut sustain itself. He was an incredibly difficult model to