Rating: P G
Voices: Danny DeVito, Taylor Swift, Ed Helms, Zac Efron, Betty White, Rob Riggle, Jenny Slate
Writer: Screenplay by Ken Daurio & Cinco Paul, Based on the book by Dr. Seuss
Director: Chris Renaud & Kyle Balda
Distributor: Universal Studios
Release Date: March 2, 2012
Dr. Seuss is not an easy thing to adapt to a full length feature, and there have been hits and misses over the years. THE GRINCH was a passable Seuss film, but Mike Myers as THE CAT IN THE HAT was kind of an unforgivable slight on the author’s original work.
Now Universal Studios is giving it another shot in an animated format with DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX. The movie is done by the same creative team as one of my favorites, DESPICABLE ME, but honestly this film is no where near as charming or engaging as that film was.
DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX is an adaptation that layers in extra elements to the story to fill time, and while the environmental message of the original text is there, it’s somewhat different than it used to be. Ted (Zac Efron) goes on a quest to find a real living tree to impress the girl of his dreams Audrey (Taylor Swift). So the lad sets out to speak to The Once-Ler (Ed Helms) who tells him the story of human greed that destroyed the forests and summoned The Lorax (Danny DeVito) who speaks for the trees. This lead Ted to take the last tree seed to plant in town and puts him in direct opposition to O’Hare (Rob Riggle) who wants to keep the town plastic and polluted so he can sell bottled air.
The original story works, but why do studios always feel the need to add in new crap that doesn’t need to be there. The love interest for Ted seems like she’s about five years older than him, and the idea that she would be after a kid his age is moderately creepy and smacks of STAR WARS: EPISODE 1 – THE PHANTOM MENACE. Plus we now have the completely transparent and one dimensional villain O’Hare who can only be described as a dwarf with a Moe Howard (THE THREE STOOGES) haircut.
The fact that this film also has music would lead one to believe that since Swift and Efron are involved, their characters would be singing, but ironically they are some of the only people on screen who don’t!
The parts of the film involving the Once-Ler and the Lorax are the best, and the rest of the movie just feels like filler around that story. The environmental message is not subtle, and unlike other environmental films like WALL*E, this film continually beats you over the head with the message to protect the forests. The charm of the Lorax story itself is not enough to carry this movie, and the run time drags on and on. It actually feels as if this film could have been edited down to about a 30 minute cartoon without all of the extra padding.
The subtle bits of adult humor that were present in DESPICABLE ME, are almost non-existent in this movie, and all of the charm of that film is also almost completely gone in this one.
The film is available to see in IMAX 3D which looks impressive, but it really doesn’t help salvage all of the problems that this movie has.
Sadly, Hollywood has once again missed the boat in trying to adapt something from the classic writings of Dr. Seuss, and instead is presenting us with a mangled Frankenstein of a film full of mismatched parts and story padding. If you want Dr. Seuss on film check out the original animated special HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! narrated by Boris Karloff.
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Article: Movie Review – DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX