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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 18.18%
Pretty Bad: 9.09%
Total Crap: 18.18%

1 review, 5 user ratings

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Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
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by Jay Seaver

"Could stand to be lifted a bit."
3 stars

This "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" movie might have been perfectly fine if it wasn't so intent on making Dr. Seuss's "The Lorax" into a feature. As fine and wonderful a children's book as that is, it often just doesn't seem compatible with Illumination Entertainment's cute CGI style and is stretched at almost ninety minutes. This doesn't make "The Lorax" a bad movie, especially for its target audience; just one that often feels off the mark.

In the all-plastic city of Thneedtown, Ted (voice of Zac Efron) has a crush on Audrey (voice of Taylor Swift), who wants to see real trees more than anything. So, based on the stories his grandmother (voice of Betty White) tells him, Ted leaves the city walls to ask the mysterious Once-ler (voice of Ed Helms) about trees. In Thneedtown, the diminutive tyrant who controls the town by supplying bottled air is concerned by this development, while outside, the Once-ler relates how his arrival led to the disappearance of the Truffula Trees, despite the efforts of the Lorax (voice of Danny DeVito), the forest spirit who speaks for the trees.

There's a great deal to like about this movie, looked at as just any animated picture for kids. The character and "prop" designs, both Seuss-derived and original, are pretty spiffy-looking. The musical numbers are light and bouncy, filling the screen with fun motion and underlining the points the filmmakers are looking to get across. They keep the message pretty simple for their young audience without being patronizing. Director Chris Renaud and co-director Kyle Balda are good at gags; there are some very funny bits and impressively-staged thrill rides throughout.

However, for all that the production is smooth and shiny, it has some real problems underneath. The next time you're in a bookstore, flip through a copy of Dr. Seuss's book. The first thing you'll likely notice is that the pictures are filled with black smoke, practically choking everything else off the page, quite unlike the smooth, clean-looking Thneedtown of the movie. It's still impossible to miss the story's environmental message (even if the picture has an absurd advertising tie-in with SUVs), but it's not demonstrated nearly as forcefully as it was in the original. Seuss's prose is a mix of verbal whimsy and utter sincerity, whereas the script by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul is full of formulaic dialogue and modern self-referentiality. That may seem like just a matter of personal taste, but without Seuss's words setting things up, the visual of the Lorax lifting himself doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Expanding the story to feature-length results in it being divided into two parts, with three main characters. The title character doesn't even appear during the climax.

Even if the cast is spread a little thin, it does have a few highlights. The Lorax himself looks and sounds exactly as he should; Danny Devito is perfect for the voice, and the model translates Seuss's drawings into this particular style near-perfectly. The cartoon bears are a riot. Audrey and "Grammy Norma" are fine visuals and well-chosen voices. It would be nice if either Ted or the Once-ler could measure up to the rest of the cast; neither Zac Efron or Ed Helms has a particularly memorable voice and the pair are rather generic as characters.

Kids will likely get a kick out of this version of "The Lorax", and it certainly won't do them any harm: It's nice to look at, has some good songs, and its anti-pollution message goes down without a sour taste. It's a diluted version of the original, and doesn't have the extra level of sophistication that makes adults sit up and take notice.

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originally posted: 03/12/12 14:55:19
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User Comments

2/14/15 Nco "Well fortunately you're not the target market, weirdo!" 4 stars
8/15/14 Mario is the Best Worst Dr Suess movie EVER!! But the book was pretty good. 1 stars
6/20/13 Charles Tatum Not as preachy as I expected, pretty funny here and there. 4 stars
3/15/12 Flipsider It's garbage. 1 stars
3/13/12 titsup Strictly kid friendly. Nothing for adults. They ruined a dr suess classic 2 stars
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  02-Mar-2012 (PG)
  DVD: 07-Aug-2012


  DVD: 07-Aug-2012

Directed by
  Chris Renaud

Written by
  Ken Daurio
  Cinco Paul

  Danny DeVito
  Zac Efron
  Taylor Swift
  Betty White
  Ed Helms
  Rob Riggle

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