The Lorax (U)
Dr. Seuss remains the ultimate children’s teller of fables, and The Lorax is another captivating book-to-screen triumph that once again presents an important lesson in language – and pictures – that kids can understand.
Heroic schoolboy Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) longs to look beyond the high walls of Thneed-Ville to the barren world beyond. Tied in with his wish is The Once-ler, a mysterious person (voiced by The Hangover’s Ed Helms) who knows all about the trees that once grew in abundance but which have been banned from the town.
Meeting the Once-ler leads Ted on a journey into Thneed-Ville’s hidden past – a time that vertically-challenged big businessman O’Hare wants to keep forgotten and under wraps. Ted’s mission: to find a tree to give to the girl of his dreams.
Paradise Lost is the name of big business in Seuss’s world. In that respect his message is as clear and unequivocal as anything in Roald Dahl’s grim fairytales. Seuss opts for the darker shades, too, but he plumps for a less frightening tone.
In the world of Dr. Seuss the message is clearly defined – easily accessible for kids (and adults) and not muddied by subtext. It’s about doing the right thing, not the wrong, and about the stuff we need, not the stuff we think we want, but don’t.
Benefiting from all the skills of the modern animator’s palette but always rooted in the traditional tales of yesteryear, The Lorax – the name of the guardian of paradise destroyed by man, voiced by Danny DeVito – manages to sustain its 86-minute running time via a succession of vignettes (many of them flashbacks) boosted by wry comedy.
Kiddies will enjoy the cuddly bears, the goofy birds and the singing fish with a nice line in TV themes (such as when they warble the Mission: Impossible score). But they’ll buy into the good versus bad scenario that sees Ted become the saviour of nature by restoring flora to his artificial town.