(2 of 2)
The movie version, directed by Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda, expands Geisel's 1,800-word fable by adding a love story. In Thneed-Ville, a town stripped of nature and run by the scheming one-percenter Mayor O'Hare (Rob Riggle), young Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) hopes to win the heart of pretty Audrey (Taylor Swift) by locating the mysterious Once-ler (Ed Helms) and learning the secret of the Truffula Trees and their gruff guardian, the Lorax (Danny DeVito). Once the Once-ler was a young man with a plan: chopping down trees to manufacture his Thneeds--sort of all-purpose Snuggies--and chirping, "I'm just buildin' the economy," as if he were not a nature hater but a job creator. Soon the forest was denuded, and the company whose motto was TOO BIG TO FAIL did. Now, he tells Ted, there is not a Truffula left, and the forest's splendor is only a memory. Unless ...
With Audrey Geisel, the author's second wife and widow, serving as executive producer and benevolent overseer, this Lorax is cheerfully faithful to its source. (The young couple are given the Geisels' first names.) The title character, who resembles an elfin Wilford Brimley, has a new evil twin in the tiny, nasty mayor--a crabby shrimp. The filmmakers festoon the old forest with a genial riot of pastels, but even the synthetic Thneed-Ville is a chromatic wonderland; the whole film is like an ice cream cone ready for licking.
Dramatically, the movie barely rises above the generic. It lacks the spark and poignancy of the 2008 Horton Hears a Who! But kids should have a ball occupying the new Lorax. And, parents, as you leave the auditorium, please deposit all popcorn boxes in the appropriate receptacles. Ted Geisel would thank you.
TO SEE A HISTORY OF DR. SEUSS ONSCREEN, GO TO time.com/seuss