Literature: Horton Hears a Who!
"A person's a person, no matter how small."Horton Hears a Who!
is a 1954 children's book by Dr. Seuss
, adapted into a 1970 animated special
by MGM Animation/Visual Arts (the studio responsible for the classic animated adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
) and a 2008 animated film from Blue Sky Studios
(the creators of Ice Age
). The book's plot also makes up a sizable part of the plot of the stage musical Seussical
. It was dedicated to a Japanese friend, Mitsugi Nakamura. In fact, Seuss intended for the story to be a metaphor for the American occupation of Japan after World War II
Rare for Seuss, this book is a sequel (to Horton Hatches The Egg).
This book and its adaptations provides examples of:
- Acoustic License: The climax of the story has the entire worldwide (speckwide?) population of Whos making as much noise as they can in a last ditch attempt to be heard by animals other than Horton. It doesn't work, until the addition of the shout of one small child makes all the difference.
- Adaptation Expansion: The movie.
- Ascended Extra: Jojo in both the movie and Seussical.
- Cassandra Truth: Horton's practically the Trope Codifier for people who read this book as a child.
- Same goes for the main Who, who can't get anyone else in town to believe they are on a speck of dust until the bird drops the clover.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Subverted in the book and in Seussical because everyone in the Jungle of Nool thinks that Horton is a tad off his rocker for hearing a Who.
- Defeat Means Friendship
- Determinator: Horton. Sour kangaroos, weak bridges, open valleys, villainous vultures, flat cliffs, snowy mountain tops, losing the speck amongst miles of similar-looking clovers, and mobs of animals trying to rope and cage him, will. Not. Make. Him. Stop. Physically or emotionally - despite people telling him to stop believing in the Whos, Horton doesn't stop.
- An elephant's faithful, one hundred percent.
- The Sour Kangaroo is equally determined to stop Horton, to the point of siccing an angry mob on him.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Sour Kangaroo is the queen of this.
- Easily Forgiven: All the "villains".
- Emo Teen: Jojo.
- Happily Ever After
- Here We Go Again: The ending to the animated special.
- Hypocritical Humor: "He has the nerve to call me a boob? I would never call somebody a boob. HE'S a boob!"
- Karma Houdini: Sour Kangaroo, especially in the movie.
- Of course. Horton's cool like that.
- Word of God says that in the movie she was originally going to get much better comeuppence in the form of all the other animals turning their back on her but the writers decided to cut that out saying that "Dr. Seuss wasn't big on revenge".
- Lilliputians: Whos, who are only a few microns high.
- Maniac Monkeys: The Wickersham brothers.
- Mind Screw: What the hell are you, Katie!?
- Misplaced Wildlife: Kangaroo.
- Nerds Are Sexy/Hot Scientist: Dr. Larue.
- One Steve Limit: The Two Vlads.
- Only Sane Man: In the movie, Rudy [the joey] and possibly Jojo as well.
- Recursive Reality: Horton discovers a whole world in a tiny dust speck. The TV special of it has an ending in which the main Who finds another dust speck with its own world. At one point in The Movie, Horton wonders whether the universe he inhabits could itself exist as a speck of dust to another universe.
- Repetitive Name: Vlad Vladikoff.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Again, Katie.
- Silent Snarker: Jojo, up until he begins talking again.
- Skyward Scream: In all versions of the story, Jojo's shout ("YOPP!") is the final sound that pushes the sounds of the Whos bursting out of the clover.
The 1970s cartoon adaptation provides examples of:
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The Wickersham Brothers claim that Horton will "steal our jewels and shut our schools and even change our football rules."
- The Cameo:
- The Grinch! In the 1970s TV version he makes a cameo in the Who chorus near the end.
- And the modern version: Watch the new version of the "We Are Here" chorus - if that's not the Grinch playing that tiny set of pan pipes, he's one heck of a doppelganger.
- He also makes a cameo in Seussical.
- Stock Footage: The 1970 special uses this quite a bit.
- Villain Song: The Wickersham Brothers get perhaps the catchiest number in the 1970 special. They also do some chanting when caging Horton and trying to boil the clover.
- Witch Hunt: The Wickersham Brothers in the 1970s version treat Horton like a Red Scare. "You're trying to stir up discontent, and take the reins of government..."
The 2008 adaptation provides examples of:
- Acrofatic: For an elephant, Horton is quite graceful. He does a perfect swan dive into the river. He also climbs up a steep cliff.
- Adaptation Personality Change: Though his retains his stoic dedication and good heart, Horton, once a soft-spoken Gentle Giant, is presented here as a spastic gag-machine (more accurately, Jim Carrey in an elephant suit). Not that that's necessarily a bad thing.
- Adaptational Villainy: In the original story, Kangaroo was a Well-Intentioned Extremist who was grumpy, but not really much of a villain. Here, she's a straight-up sadist who cares more about her own ego than the other jungle animals, and seems to have a lot more fun in torturing Horton than she should. Not to mention being portrayed as borderline abusive toward the children that she claims to be protecting.
- Look at the way the animals are cowering in fear of her at the beginning. Did she previously abuse them in the past?
- And possibly genocidal (toward the Who's) as well. Notice how she tried to take the clover away from Horton even after she heard the Who's "we are here".
- Vlad Vladikoff as well. In the original story, he didn't have much of a role. He simply just carried the clover off and dropped it. In the film, on the other hand, he's upgraded to a genuinely terrifying, dangerous, and feared character, with sharp teeth and a sadistic sense of humor. Just look at his gleeful grin when he tells Kangaroo to offer her son to him as food.
- Art Shift: Happens twice. The first time is a 2D animated sequence drawn completely in Seuss' distinctive style. The other is an Anime parody action sequence/daydream, complete with mouth movements that don't match up to the voices.
- Bits of Me Keep Passing Out: The Mayor is at the dentist when an earthquake (caused by the speck the Whos all inhabit moving) occurs, and the Novocaine needle ends up in his arm, which remains limp and useless for some time afterward.
- Breakout Character: Jojo quickly became the most popular charcter in the film adaptation.
- Brick Joke: The other Vlad.
- And Burt from Accounting makes an appearance.
- On the rope bridge, Horton thinks that inhaling deeply will make him lighter. Near the end Katie inhales deeply... and floats away.
- Horton himself. Just the sheer fact that Horton is voiced by Jim Carrey in the film qualifies him for this.
- Continuity Nod: Horton's catchphrase in the movie was, of course, imported from Horton Hatches the Egg.
- Crazy Enough to Work: Horton's plan in the movie is to relocate the Whos to a safer place (since in the adaption Whoville has somehow become unstable). Guess where he chooses? A mountain. Colder climate. Less hospitable terrain. Yes, he choose a mountain. Sour Kangaroo and her vacant pouch would have been a more sensible choice (and poetic, going from destroyer to protector of the Whos) after her Heel-face turn.
- If you look closely, you'll see it's the same exact cave that Whoville was originally on at the beginning of the film!
- Creepy Child: Katie in the movie. "Aaah..."
- Crowd Song: The end of the movie.
- Easily Forgiven: The animals in the jungle of Nool. Parodied when Horton says he couldn't have done it without their utter lack of support and naked aggression.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Jojo has a natural talent for creating machines that make a lot of noise.
- Genre Savvy: While Horton is escaping Vlad the vulture, he briefly loses him and predicts that said vulture will pop out of nowhere eventually. Guess who's right behind Horton as he says this.
- Soon after, he says, "Cool line! Usually I can't think of those things till later."
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Ninety-six daughters and one son." "Busy guy." "And we all share one bathroom. You know how that is."
- Goth: Jojo shows some shades of this.
- Groin Attack: The mayor gets wedged between a door as a large fishbowl strikes him in the crotch.
- Which is to say nothing of what happens later during the Vlad chase. The Mayor rolls out onto his balcony, hits one of the railing pillars between his legs, then is shoved in further by his desk, a couch and a refrigerator. Safe to say there probably won't be a 98th child.
- Hypocritical Humor: Besides the "Boob" comment above, Sour Kangaroo's claiming for the children's safety, then suddenly punting Katie out of the jungle.
- Ignored Expert: The Mayor of Whoville.
- I Love the Smell of X in the Morning:
Horton: I love the smell of bananas in the morning!
- Ink-Suit Actor: Zig-zagged. Horton doesn't exactly look like Jim Carrey here, but after he was cast, the more faithfully-designed Horton model was updated to include Carrey's expressive mouth.
- Knight Templar Parent: Kangaroo
- Large Ham: Subdued, compared to his other performances, but Jim Carrey as Horton.
- Medium Shift Gag: The previously All-CGI Cartoon briefly shifts into an Anime parody as Horton imagines himself as a ninja sworn to protect the tiny world on the clover.
- There's even a brief traditionally animated segment drawn in Dr. Seuss' style when Horton imagines a Who on the speck "calling for help".
- My Beloved Smother: Sour Kangaroo is this to Rudy, refusing to let him leave her pouch.
- Odd Name Out: Ninety-six of the Mayor's ninety-seven children all have names beginning with the letter H. Jojo, the Mayor's only son, is the Odd Name Out.
- Oh, Crap: Not immediately, but eventually Horton catches on.
Horton: Oh! I see! It's an angry mob! Coming right... for... (Starts getting it) Oh no...
- Outnumbered Sibling: The Mayor has ninety-six daughters, and only one son, Jojo.
- Related in the Adaptation: In the original book the Mayor and Jojo are unrelated.
- Rope Bridge: Horton has to cross one on his way to Mt. Nool.
Horton: This looks kinda...percarious. Well, no need to worry. Obviously, when they built a bridge like this, they'd taken into account that elephants will be crossing it.
- Shaming the Mob: Subverted, along with the Rousing Speech.
- Shout-Out: Several to various Dr. Seuss works.
- One Who has a blue hat similar to the one worn by The Cat in the Hat, as well as a few of The Cat's mannerisms (including a smaller version of himself underneath his hat).
- The Mayor and his family eat Green Eggs and Ham for breakfast.
- The city council seems to consist of Grinches.
- Rudy's imaginary clover friend is named "Thidwick", a refrence to Thidwick the Moose.
- The Mayor has a red fish as a pet, possibly a refrence to One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.
- One of the portraits of past mayors was Dr. Seuss himself (specifically, the one of Ned's father)!
- Slippery Slope Fallacy: See Witch Hunt, below.
- Stealth Pun: In the original story, Vlad was described as a "black-bottomed eagle". Here, he looks more like a vulture, without feathers on his head. So wait, does that make him a bald eagle?
- Straw Hypocrite: Sour Kangaroo, obviously cares more about putting down others than actually caring about the children. It's followed by kicking Katie across the jungle.
- Stylistic Suck: The music during Horton's Animesque Imagine Spot, which sounds like the soundtrack to a cheesy '70s kung-fu movie being played on a beat-up 8-track tape.
- Sudden Musical Ending: And how. "I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore" out of nowhere.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: The Mayor constantly reassures the Doctor that he absolutely did not have a conversation with an elephant in the sky.
- Take That: One of the scriptwriters must not have had a high opinion of home-schooling.
- Think of the Children!: In the 2008 movie, the kangaroo rallies all the other animals in the jungle against Horton with this cry.
- Toothy Bird: Vlad Vladikoff, a toothy vulture.
- Totally Radical: When the Mayor tries to relate to Jojo at the beginning of the film. It fails.
- Vlad Vladikoff also talks like this, when he's not being threatening.
- Traveling-Pipe Bulge: This happens when Horton's voice first travels down the pipe to the mayor's office.
- Tree Buchet: How Horton gets rid of Vlad in the movie.
- Tremor Trampoline: Happens to the world of Whoville several times; after all, a small bump from Horton's perspective is a big bump from the Whos perspective.
- One time when it happened, was while a house was under construction; when everything was bounced skywards, the house came back down fully built.
- What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Subverted; the main villain is a kangaroo.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Jojo's main reason for never talking is that he thinks that if he does, then he'll disappoint his father.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Kangaroo is actually a subversion. It's pretty obvious that she's enforcing her rules for the sake of her own ego instead of actually protecting anybody (She goes on about protecting the children, then kicks Katie clear across the jungle.)
- Witch Hunt: There's a bit of this in the 2008 movie as well.