PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

March 2, 2012

‘Lorax’ little less Seussian, still lovable

Sean McBride
The Port Arthur News

— Most people have fond memories of Dr. Seuss’ books from their childhood. They are perfect for young readers because they feature simple stories with concise moral messages and a lot of imaginative characters that can really get a child’s mind racing. Because of that, the books also translate very well into TV shows and movies. The only problem is that the stories are so simple that screenwriters have to be called in order to pad out the story.

After all, parents won’t pay a full ticket price for a 30-minute movie.

That’s the minor problem in the new Dr. Seuss movie, “The Lorax.” This is an otherwise charming film that’s filled with candy-colored animation, memorable characters and a lot of silly humor. It’s also a film that features material that doesn’t seem to quite fit into Seuss’ original tale. There’s a lot of broad humor and some new action sequences. Characters are expanded or added and there’s even a little romance. None of that is particularly wrong; it’s just not very Seuss.

Still, the kids will love it.

Zac Efron stars as a boy living in a town that’s entirely artificial. In order to impress a girl (Taylor Swift), he heads off on a quest to find the Truffala trees that she dreams about. That’s how he meets the Once-ler (Ed Helms) and learns the story of how the Once-ler chopped down all the Truffala trees so many years ago, despite the warnings of the forest guardian, a bad-tempered orange creature called the Lorax (Danny DeVito).

The story is certainly fun and provides Danny DeVito with ample opportunity to ham up his role. The other characters aren’t quite as memorable (nor do they need to be) although kids will get a kick out of the Humming-Fish and the Bar-ba-loots, which are silly sidekick characters that provide consistent comic relief.

There’s been a lot of talk about how “The Lorax” is trying to indoctrinate kids to a leftist point of view. I think that might be a little extreme, but there’s no denying the pro-environmental and anti-greed message in the movie. The anti-business charge is humorous considering that the film has multiple corporate tie-ins. The green themes shouldn’t come as any surprise either, as the whole point of “The Lorax” has always been to teach children to protect nature, even when the book was originally published back in 1971.

Grown up politics won’t get in the way of your kids enjoying a pretty good family adventure. The film is a visual treat, and while the purist in me isn’t happy about the additional material, I certainly understand why the story was padded out. All in all, I can’t imagine anyone, other than the Fox News anchors, not having a blast getting to know “The Lorax.”

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News”. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@kboi2.com.