A new film adaption of the 1971 book, "The Lorax," hits theaters March 2nd, on the birthday  of its  author and illustrator..

Dr. Seuss (born Theodor Seuss Geisel) would have turned 108 years old. The celebrated writer died in 1991, but his classic stories, including "Cat in the Hat" and "Horton Hears a Who!," continue to inspire new generations both in book-form and on the big screen. Thus far the revered works of Dr. Seuss have largely fizzled, critically speaking, on the big screen.

The latest of these films, “The Lorax,” breaks that trend, offering a fun, frenetic and capable vehicle for Dr. Seuss’s vaunted silly wisdom.

“The Lorax” is not about the title character so much; in fact, I don’t recall if our main character ever even actually meets the Lorax (voice of Danny DeVito) on screen. Ted (Zac Efron) is merely looking to impress Audrey (Taylor Swift), the girl he likes, by getting his hands on a tree.

Ted and Audrey live in Thneedville, a domed burg controlled by the greedy Mr. O’Hare (Rob Riggle), who strangely resembles a cross between Bob Parr’s boss in The Incredibles and Fred Armisen of “Saturday Night Live.” Mr. O’Hare bottles and sells fresh air to the people of Thneedville, most of whom know little of the outside world. Trees, much like most everything else in Thneedville, are made of plastic.

Audrey, however, dreams of having a real-life tree in her own yard, one that grows and (since this is a Dr. Seuss story) has a giant tuft of orange fuzz on top of it. Ted, naturally, sets out to find a tree for his would-be true love.

He ventures outside of Thneedville’s iron walls to find the Once-ler who supposedly can secure a tree for anyone wanting one. The Once-ler then tells Ted the story of why trees went the way of the Dortleduff.

It occurs to me that all of this sounds rather convoluted and confusing, but one of the better things about the story is that it conveys this information simply and concisely in a way that young children can understand without being pandering and insulting the viewer’s intelligence.

Yes, this is, of course, a thinly veiled story on environmentalism and corporate greed. But it has heaping doses of charm and wit without relying on cheap sight gags and pop culture references that are, in today’s ever-fluid gossip culture, almost instantly out of date.

With its bright, vivid oranges, reds and greens, this undoubtedly uses Dr. Seuss’s visual palette, much like “Horton” did before. The difference here is that “The Lorax” doesn’t try to modernize the story by giving everyone cell phones and computers; they stick to the original message rather well and enhance the visuals with some terrific use of 3D. Yes, this is one of few films actually worth paying a few extra bucks for the third dimension. My three kids have been to numerous 3D films and have rarely grabbed at the air in front of them as often as they did for “The Lorax.”

“The Lorax” is the perfect combination of message, myth and mirth, with just enough whiz-bang to offset the message — a visually impressive spectacle that has some meat behind it.


Tell us: Do you plan to see "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax"?


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