Reel Critics: 'The Lorax' branches out into film

The legendary Dr. Seuss was ahead of his time in so many ways. In 1971, he created "The Lorax," one of the first eco-friendly children's books ever written.

In simple language, the story teaches the need to respect and care for the natural beauty of the earth, especially the trees.

The new movie version is made by the crew that produced the popular animated hit "Despicable Me." So it's full of wild colors and lively action, but short on the subtle points of the subject. Danny DeVito voices the fuzzy orange Lorax at the center of the story with comic vigor.

He is the unusual creature who speaks for the trees of his world. They look like cotton candy lollipops. He emerges from the forest when greedy villains begin cutting down the trees for profit. He joins forces with a young boy who becomes a champion fighting to bring back the lost forest.

The boy guards the last tree seed the villains want to destroy. The plot plays out with snappy dance numbers and dynamic chase scenes. It all ends well and should easily entertain the youngsters in the audience.


'Deeds' as predictable as its gets

Producer-director-writer-star Tyler Perry plays a wealthy CEO named Wesley Deeds, described as "good but predictable." The same holds true for his latest drama, "Good Deeds."

I like that Perry's films always carry a positive message. The women are certain to be flawed but formidable, including Perry's popular alter-ego, big bad mama Madea.

We could have used some of Madea's raucousness to spice things up. For all the stately close-ups of Perry's earnest face, the movie feels much too stolid and impersonal.

Were it not for Thandie Newton's performance as Lindsey, a desperate single mother and janitor in Deeds' office, we would need to get slapped upside the head with a damp mop to stay awake.

And seriously — a big building with a cleaning crew of one? No wonder this woman's stressed out!

Lovely Phylicia Rashad, as Wesley's mother, is given little to do but cast cold stares at him and his volatile younger brother Walt (Brian White).

The Cinderella outcome of "Good Deeds" is guaranteed as soon as the ultra-reserved millionaire meets homeless but feisty Lindsey. And apparently, no passports are needed for a trip to Tyler Perry Land.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

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