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Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington

Wilmington on Movies: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX (Three Stars)
U.S.: Chris Renaud/Kyle Balda, 2012



Al long time ago, back in ’71. In a season of tumult and fear,
The good Dr. Seuss, with his pen wild and loose,
Wrote a book called “The Lorax,” we  hear.

It was all about greed , about Oncelers and thneeds,
About  chopping down Truffula trees
About spoiling the earth, swapping all of its worth
For some loot and a land full of “Mes.”

Ah Seuss, you’re a treasure! A yarn-smith past measure.
You’re a wizard  of satire and glee!
Your Lor-ax is a beaut! It’s a gem. It’s a hoot.
It’s a love song to all threatened trees!

For some people love nature and some people don’t
And some congressmen don’t care at all.
But the Good Dr. Seuss got us totally juiced!
Gave  a hug to the trees one and all.

Well, many more, double-score, long years have passed
And the Doc isn’t here any more.
But his book still amuses us, wows us and woozes us.
Settles those anti-Earth scores.

And that wonderful tome, that great Seussian pome,
With its message of gloom, doom and hope
Is now up on the screen, a real CGI dream…
So why do you feel like a dope?

Why does the cast seem like green eggs and ham? Why are the songs slightly gooey?
What is Ed Helms here? A hung-over Onceler? Why does the end go ker-flooey?
Is Danny DeVito — a perfect Seuss voice guy — a Lorax or just one more Louie?
And check out Zac Efron, getting Swift with Ms. Taylor, but sounding like Huey or Dewey.

It isn’t as if this show were a bomb. It’s made by intelligent guys.
They know how to shoot. They think Seuss is a toot, They love trees and they love cracking wise.
Cinco Paul, and Ken Daurio, and Chris Renau-rio, the gang from  Despicable Me:
Well,  maybe their flick is too big and too cheery-o: a Slightly Disposable Spree.

You see, Seussian stories, in all their wry glory, work best when they’re gentle and spry.
And the recent parade of  big movie charades makes them seem kind of  bloated and dry.
The show means to please kids though, and please them it will. And I’ll drop a political hint:
I’d rather be lectured by Seuss and Obama, than bored by Santorum and Mint.

For some people love trees and some people don’t.
And some congressmen don’t care at  all,
But the Good Dr. Seuss got us totally juiced.
Give  a hug to his Lorax, you all!

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is a big bouncy computerized cartoon feature with its heart in the right place about nature and resources and how important it is to shepherd them in the right ways — and how important it is not to let greed and selfishness and the lust for money and exploitation of those resources set the agendas, blight the landscapes and ravage the earth. (I wouldn’t think those would be controversial positions, but apparently they are.)

It’s a good movie that should have been better. But The Lorax’s wit and liveliness and sometimes magical visuals — not to ment6ion Danny De Vito‘s gently boisterous voice performance as The Lorax –.are  undermined by the sheer scale of the project  and it’s sometimes overbearing treatment and style, which make the whole show entertaining but a little too techno-heavy, predictable and CGI slap-happy for its own good.

I havent seen the 1972 cartoon version — the shorter, less expensive one directed by Hawley Pratt and narrated by Eddie Albert— but I’m sure t would have been more congenial. “The Lorax” is a story that cries out for a gentler, more lyrictal, more modest approach, cries out for more Seussian rhymed narration. The book, first published in 1971, was another of Dr. Seuss’ delightfully rhymed and rhythmed storybook fables with their big, goofy drawings of mythological Seuss-beasts and of small boys or creatures (often named Bartholomew) who fought the good fights or hatched the good eggs (Horton  the Elephant, of course), and learned lessons about life as they skittered over the rhymes and Seuss-creatures and silly names on each spacious page.

“The Lorax” was probably the most obviously political of all Seuss’s books; an undisguised ecological fable  that attacks mean corporate types (like the Once-ler) — the story’s reckless, greedy  ‘job-creator who strips the land and chops down the Truffula Trees and their gorgeous little tufts to make the highly sable miracle item, the thneeds. (Imagine them telemarketed on cable.) The Once-ler and his minions and machines keep chopping and chopping until the very last Truffula Tree is chopped down, and the landscape has become a desolate , smoggy wasteland, with the Onceler left to lament his misdeeds and mis-thneeds.

It’s also about the Lorax, a prescient feisty little mutton-chopped chap, with a fuzzy face who “speaks for the trees,” and warned the Once-ler that what he was doing was wrong. A perfect part for the movie’s Danny De Vito, who was born to read Seuss –even if I expected more.

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is unabashedly political and pro-ecology and that’s what makes it controversial, I guess. But the movie, which is big and overblown (even IMAXed). isn’t really as bad as its nay-sayers say, including the kind of right-wing hipsters who think Happy Feet Two was a plot.

Dr. Seuss was also known as Theodore Geisel; Efron’s Ted and Taylor Swift’s Audrey, the teen-dream lovers of the movie, are a tribute to Ted Geisel and his wife Audrey. And Seuss, or Ted, sometimes called “The Lorax” his favorite book. (I prefer “Horton Hatches the Egg.“) This is not the best Dr. Seuss movie. (That remains Chuck Jones’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.) But you’d be wrong to deprive your kids of seeing it. Just make sure you get them the original book though — which is the one Lorax marketing tie-in you really shouldn’t ignore.

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One of the great movies. Charles Bronson, great, Charles Bronson. Great movies. Today you can’t make that movie because it’s not politically correct, right? It’s not politically correct. But could you imagine with Trump? Somebody says, oh, all these big monsters aren’t around he’s easy pickings and then shoot.”
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