It’s hard to mess up a kid’s movie, but it’s easy to mess up one based on a Dr. Seuss story: case in point, “The Cat in the Hat.” Thankfully, “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” sticks to its Seuss roots, even though the storyline strays a bit from the original. With new characters and subplots, “The Lorax” is sure to entertain both the little ones and the adults watching.

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

At Quality 16 and Rave
Universal


The creators of “Despicable Me” bring us this wildly colorful and touching tale of environmentalism in kid-friendly form. Pretty much everyone knows the story of “The Lorax.” You’ve probably had it read to you a few times on Earth Day. But in this version, a boy named Ted (Zac Efron, “17 Again”) goes in search of a real tree in order to impress his high-school crush Audrey (Taylor Swift, “Valentine’s Day”). His spunky grandma (Betty White, “The Proposal”) instructs him to find the Once-ler, and so begins Ted’s quest to learn about the trees.

Facing off against an evil zillionaire who makes his money selling fresh, packaged air, Ted has a few obstacles to conquer along the way. The villain, who has “Frankenstein’s head on a spider’s body,” is comically reminiscent of a few CEOs out there today. The whole message of the movie revolves around an anti-greed, pro-environmental stance. At times, it can be a bit preachy, especially for a children’s film, though its moral will probably fly right over its younger viewers’ heads.

Efron does an impressive job with the voice acting, and his character Ted is extremely likeable and funny. Other standout voice actors include Jenny Slate (a former member of TV’s “Saturday Night Live”), who plays Ted’s mom, and Ed Helms (“The Hangover”), who voices the Once-ler. Danny Devito’s (TV’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) voice is so distinct that you can almost picture him in place of the actual Lorax; it doesn’t help that he and the “speaker of the trees” are similar in shape, too.

The animation is in typical Seuss style: people with sloped noses and round eyes, trees that don’t actually look like trees and some cute woodland creatures. The singing fish are especially attention-grabbing, as is the adorably overweight bear who towers over the others.

The movie also has a few musical pieces incorporated throughout. They’re sort of a cheap ploy to keep the kids’ attention, but they’re entertaining nonetheless. Surprisingly enough, Taylor Swift has no major singing parts, though you’d expect movie execs would exploit her for all she’s worth.

It’s kind of ironic that a huge corporation like Universal is producing a movie with an anti-corporate message. They don’t downplay it at all, either. In fact, the moral of the movie is so often repeated that you’ll walk away reciting “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Hopefully, some kids and adults who watch “The Lorax” will leave the theater having learned something, but most will probably just walk out humming a few catchy tunes from the flick.

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