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Horton Hears a Who!
Usa 2008

A really disappointing film this “Horton Hears a Who” presented by 20th Century Fox and taken from a famous children's book by Dr. Seuss, author also of “The Grinch”. Disappointing because the theme, although appealing, suffers from an excessive “drawing out” in order to reach the standard 90 minute plus length which has become a “must” in today's digital animation cinema; disappointing because we haven't found a character who has moved us or created an emotion after getting over the initial bewilderment of the perfection of the animation and the rendering of the luxurious scenario of the jungle; disappointing because the verbosity of the screenplay sooner or later becomes boring especially if combined with the usual, digital, little animals' characters of which we could actually do without. The story tells the tale of Horton the elephant, the jungle cubs favourite who, one day, hears a weak cry of help coming from a speck of dust floating in the air towards destruction. The speck of dust is home to the city of Who-ville, inhabited by the tiny Who and governed by the Mayor. Horton, despite being teased by his friends and being pestered by the diabolic Mrs. Kangaroo who wants to have total power over everyone and everything, decides to save his tiny, new friends. Obviously he succeeds but after many vicissitudes.

It's always difficult to write a negative review but this time it's unavoidable: I didn't like the film; despite having found various, enthusiastic reviews on behalf of the public on the internet, as far as I'm concerned I can't agree. A refined, digital technique isn't enough to create a successful film. You have to have an interesting captivating story and a solid screenplay, both of which nowadays and even more so in cartoons, are scarce. And now to the dubbing. One may well ask why, WHY does one insist with this successful “talent” tendency/fashion of going by the book which does nothing but repeat/copy itself instead of CREATING a character? In the original version the characters of Horton and of the Mayor were recited by Jim Carrey and Steve Carell, with a script, it seems, full of games with words rather impossible to translate. It's true that Fiamma Izzo's job with the dialogues has been quite true to the original considering the boring screenplay but to use Christian de Sica and Paolo Conticini for the dubbing totally eliminates any possibility of adding value to the product. Since when have we seen an elephant in the African jungle talk with obvious Romanesque inflexions and gags? A mortifying solution compared to Carrey in the original version in so much that our (national) Christian doesn't create anything, he repeats his clichés winking at his public but the question remains the same: was it really necessary to use de Sica's voice? Wouldn't it have been better to use a valid professional of the dubbing sector who at least could have recreated a character? Conticini is average but the consideration is more or less the same as before. On the contrary, Veronica Pivetti is very good, a real professional, penalised by interpreting the totally unpleasant Kangaroo character; Giuppy Izzo is efficient in the role of Dr. LaRue and Carlo Valli is exemplary in the narration, well adapted in rhyme with excellent results.

But it's not enough. The film is not for a public over ten years of age whilst the really big cartoons have always fascinated adults too. Not to always cite Disney, it's however sufficient to think of the modern classics like “Anastasia” of the same Fox or the big, short films realised by Tex Avery for MGM. These, after 60 years are still extremely worthy and in five years time, this drawn out digital cartoon will already be a museum piece.

[original review in Italian by Nunziante Valoroso]


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