If they have to make movies from Dr. Seuss’ classic children’s books, it seems animation is really the way to go.
Let’s face it: The live-action How The Grinch Stole Christmas film was pretty dreadful, and The Cat in the Hat was worse. The Seuss film program improved immeasurably with the animated Horton Hears a Who, and the latest film adaptation, 2012’s The Lorax, is another triumph.
As with the previous films, a lot of material is added to fill out a feature-length film (these were short books, after all). The Lorax book was a simple tale of the title character, a grumpy little guy who defends the trees against the greedy land developer known as Once-ler.
That’s right—The Lorax was a pro-environment allegory, blatantly. Published in 1972, its themes are as relevant—probably more so—than when Seuss created the story. And, as rendered in digital animation 40 years, The Lorax has retained its tree-hugging theme, even if the story has been expanded.
The filmmakers kick off the movie with a musical number set in the town of Thneed (an original creation for the film), where everything is artificial and wasteful, its people selfish and careless, taking whatever they “thneed” whenever they “thneed” it. They buy bottled air (a spot-on shot at today’s bottled-water industry) and use electric trees powered by multiple batteries.
The plot revolves around Ted (voice of Zac Efron), a 12-year-old boy who is trying to impress Audrey (Taylor Swift) by fulfilling her wish of seeing a real tree. Ted’s search leads him to Once-ler, voiced by Ed Helms (The Hangover), who recounts the story of how he found a beautiful forest and proceeded to develop it into a modern city until The Lorax (a perfectly cast Danny DeVito) interfered.
The story and lessons of The Lorax are conveyed in a very positive and inspirational way. This film walks a fine line but avoids being too preachy—and who can argue with its point? The story may bog down at times, but the conclusion is well-developed, on-point and very moving.
Visually speaking, the film makes for one gorgeous Blu-ray. Amazing colors and sharp, dazzlingly imaginative designs fill the screen at all times—this is CGI animation functioning at its highest level. And this is definitely the way to bring Dr. Seuss’ creations to the screen, as the animators can retain the look of his drawings while modernizing the imagery for modern sensibilities.
The Blu-ray (and also the enclosed DVD in the combo pack) features three excellent short cartoons set in the world of The Lorax—a seeming rarity these days, bonus features that are actually worthwhile!
Created for children but enjoyable for all ages, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is an entertaining, energetic family film with a potent message.Buy Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Combo Pack (Two Discs: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet) on Amazon