The new animated feature
As with "
"The Lorax" is a little more like it. A little. But you couldn't accuse the film of practicing what it preaches: careful stewardship of a precious resource.
The message tends to get lost in all the clanging slapstick and "Wall•E" imagery. "Wall•E" had the courage of its convictions as well as beauty and artistry; "The Lorax" is just another OK feature-length animated edition (in 3-D, if you choose to pay for it) of a Dr. Seuss book.
The filmmakers, headed by director Chris Renaud and screenwriters
In this version of Thneedville, no living thing grows: Trees and shrubs are inflatable plastic, the town is maintained with "Truman Show"-like fakery and the apparent mayor of the town, Mr. O'Hare (
Most of the picture, as did the book, unfolds as a flashback to the Once-ler's rabid capitalistic youth, when he harvested the precious Truffula tree for its velvety tufts and commercial prospects. Taking its cue from a single line in the original about the Once-ler's family, "The Lorax" brings in a venal hick crowd straight out of
A good deal of this comes from the original slim volume by Seuss. By the time the good doctor published his warning about despoiling our planet willy-nilly (cue the
The book, unusually blunt and even humorless for Seuss, has become a conflicted diversionary tactic on screen. Its makers were plainly nervous about selling the message. And so they gussy it up with lots of vehicular chase sequences and musical numbers of uneven quality and after a while you long for another trip to see the Once-ler, just because he's a loner and you could use the break. "The Lorax," comes back around by the end to where it needs to be, i.e., in Seuss' corner. But there's a lyric about life in Thneedville painting the place as "plastic and fake and they liked it that way!" And it's too close to the movie's truth for actual moviegoing comfort.
'The Lorax' -- 2 stars
Running time: 1:34