The 3-D animated adaptation of this iconic, cautionary environmental fable focuses on taking responsibility for the devastating effects of industrialized society on the environment.
Idealistic 12 year-old Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) lives in the isolated, artificial city of Thneedville, where greedy Mayor Aloysius O’Hare (voiced by Rob Riggle) has found it profitable to eliminate all organic, oxygen-producing trees, making fresh air available for sale only in bottles. Knowing that his teenage playmate Audrey (voiced by Grammy Award-winning Taylor Swift) yearns to see real, not plastic, vegetation, Ted embarks on a quest to find a seed from the Truffula Tree. Encouraged by his nervously protective mother (voiced by Jenny Slate) and feisty, wisecracking grandmother (voiced by Betty White), Ted ventures off to find the reclusive hermit Once-ler (voiced by Ed Helms), who recalls – in flashbacks – how he chopped down all the region’s beautiful, pinwheel-shaped, orange, pink and purple-blossomed Truffula Trees for profit, much to the chagrin of the portly, mustachioed guardian of Nature called the Lorax (voiced by Danny DeVito).
The common-sense message is aptly summed up in poetic prose by “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing going to get better. It’s not.”
Children’s book author Dr. Seuss, otherwise known as Theodor Seuss Geisel, wrote this despairing tale back in 1971 and, unfortunately, its translation to the screen doesn’t fare as well as “Horton Hears a Who!” or “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” although it’s executive produced by Geisel’s widow, Audrey. After collaborating so successful on “Despicable Me,” screenwriters Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio and director Chris Renaud – with co-director Kyle Balda – have spread the simple, ecology-propelled story so thin that it becomes cluttered with slapstick chase sequences, mediocre musical numbers and synthetic trivia, ultimately becoming tedious. And the hectic finale will inevitably be compared with the far more inventive “WALL-E.”
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” is a fanciful, commercially viable, green-friendly 5, resulting in a Lorax-approved laundry detergent appearing in a grocery store near you.