The magic is unmistakable in Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
Featuring the voices of Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito, and Ed Helms. Rated G. Opens Friday, March 2, at the Park Theatre
Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) wrote The Lorax 41 years ago. The story's openly pro-environment theme—the title character is a mythical forest creature who attempts to stop a money-hungry entrepreneur from chopping down all the trees—still hits a nerve with grumpy conservatives. Now it's back as a 3-D movie that Fox News Grinch Lou Dobbs considers part of a liberal conspiracy to “indoctrinate our children”.
This is nonsense, of course. The message behind this cleverly animated feature revolves around the gentle notion that someone has to “speak for the trees”. And yet, for all its basic sweetness, The Lorax has a surprising amount to say about corporate greed. Codirectors Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda give us a look at a world where real trees have been replaced by the ecological equivalent of plastic blow-up dolls. The true villain of the piece is a stubby little man who manufactures bottled oxygen, which the townspeople huff like glue. Naturally, he's afraid the oxygen that real trees produce will kill his business.
Enter 12-year-old Ted (voiced by Zac Efron), a love-struck kid who wants to plant a real tree to impress the fetching Audrey (voiced by Taylor Swift). To do so, he has to listen to a tale told by the Once-ler, a cranky old hermit who holds the secret to granting Ted his wish.
I've always felt that Dr. Seuss works best in half-hour increments or less. But even at 94 minutes, The Lorax avoids that cumbersome padded feeling associated with most Seuss-inspired longer features.
Visually, the movie has a wistful, candy-coloured look that's quite striking (the real trees in this fairy-tale setting resemble pink feather dusters covered in bark), and there is some lively voice work provided by the likes of Danny DeVito and Betty White.
But mostly there's the unmistakable magic of Dr. Seuss.
Watch the trailer for Dr. Seuss' The Lorax.