Mes­sage ring­barked by preachy plot

Sub­tlety is lost in Dr Seuss’ The Lorax, writes Caris Bizzaca

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY MOVIES -

R Seuss has had its fair share of hits and misses in Hol­ly­wood. There was the crit­i­cally panned How the Grinch Stole Christ­mas with Jim Car­rey, fol­lowed by the crit­i­cally mas­sa­cred Cat in the Hat.

An­i­ma­tion seems to have fared a bit bet­ter, with 2008’s Dr Seuss’ Hor­ton Hears a Who! and now Dr Seuss’ The Lorax – a bright, candy coloured, song-filled flick for the kids, with a en­vi­ron­men­tal mes­sage that’s about as sub­tle as a sledge­ham­mer.

Based on the book from 1971, it be­gins with the catchy open­ing tune about Th­needville, a town made out of plas­tic, where man­u­fac­tured trees run on bat­ter­ies.

A short, nasty man named O’hare ba­si­cally runs the city, be­cause he sells fresh bot­tled air, which is in high de­mand thanks to the lack of trees.

But O’hare’s busi­ness faces some dan­ger, when 12-year-old Ted (voiced by Zac Afron) sets out to find a tree for the girl he has a crush on (voiced by Tay­lor Swift).

In the bleak grey area out­side the bright town, Ted finds Once-ler ( The Hang­over’s Ed Helms), a creepy old man who may hold the an­swers to find­ing a tree.

So how does the Lorax fit into all of this? Well the Lorax is a short, orange fuzzball voiced by Danny Devito, who’s a guardian of the trees and ap­par­ently has magic pow­ers.

Who knows what they are though, for when­ever he’s asked to use them, he replies ‘‘that’s not how it works’’. And so he just watches help­lessly as a par­adise with hun­dreds of fluffy trees is turned into a waste­land.

Di­rected by Chris Re­naud ( De­spi­ca­ble Me), there’s plenty go­ing on to dis­tract chil­dren, with cute bears, singing fish, jokes about marsh­mal­lows and the crazi­ness of Dr Seuss’ world crammed into ev­ery frame with amaz­ing de­tail.

Chil­dren in our 3D screen­ing seemed to love it right from the open­ing, when the Lorax throws a piece of pa­per and it ap­pears to flut­ter over the au­di­ence, caus­ing sev­eral kids to gasp.

Grammy, voiced by Betty White, is a hoot, but par­ents might find it all a bit preachy, with its bar­rage of en­vi­ron­men­tal mes­sages.

In one scene, a businessman storms about hap­pily lop­ping down trees, forc­ing furry an­i­mals to flee, as he rakes in the cash singing, ‘‘How bad can I be? I’m just build­ing the econ­omy’’.

Dr Seuss’ The Lorax is not the first eco-friendly an­i­mated movie, it won’t be the last, and though it’s colour­ful and bub­bly, it’s un­for­tu­nately not the best.

Par­ents who loved the orig­i­nal book will prob­a­bly be on the fence although their chil­dren will en­joy it.

to­day

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Danny Devito lends his voice to the orange fuzzball star of

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