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‘Lorax’ wins over Seuss fan with visuals

The film-version Lorax is a bit less menacing than his counterpart in the original Dr. Seuss children’s book. (courtesy of Universal Studios)

Jon Nelson, Features Editor

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The three types of films I despise the most are crappy adaptations of books I love, musicals and morality tales. I don’t need “Naked Lunch” made into a movie. I don’t need washed-up starlets doing high kicks and I certainly don’t need Hollywood reminding me of what a terrible person I am.

Having said that, I really wanted to hate The Lorax. On the surface, it seems like everything I dislike rolled up into a nice, neat package. Combine that with a theater full of screaming children and I’m done before I can even find a seat.

As a kid I was obsessed with Dr. Seuss. I wanted the Cat in the Hat to show up at my house on a rainy day. I wanted to eat green eggs and ham on a train and I’m sure my mom is still tired of reading “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” to me. Even today, it’s just not Christmas without watching the animated version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at least 15 times.

The original “Lorax” book is about a boy who travels to see a man named the Once-Ler to find out how their world became so desolate and polluted.

The Once-Ler reveals to the boy through a series of flashbacks that it’s because he cut down all the trees to mass-produce a sweater-like invention despite warnings from a mustached creature called the Lorax. The Once-Ler then entrusts the boy with the last tree seed in order to right his wrongs. The book is worth checking out even today if nothing other than because it’s so uncharacteristically bleak for Seuss.

The movie holds true to the spirit of the original story with added details and plot points to make it full-length. The love story between the main character, Ted Wiggins and the girl-next-door is cute without being generic. I loved the idea of having the story take place in a town that is completely artificial, even down to the flora and fauna.

Betty White as the voice of the main character’s grandmother is a nice addition to the story and Danny DeVito is charming and fun as the Lorax. I was smiling and engrossed in the story before the beginning credits had finished rolling.

My favorite part of the movie, by far, was the animation. Because it was done entirely in CGI and, because it’s a Suess story, the visuals were non-stop psychedelic bliss. The texture of the “Truffula trees” has to be seen to be believed. Each one looks like a puff of cotton candy from a 5 year-old’s dream.

The message of the film, that we need to protect the environment before the effects of deforestation and pollution become irreversible, was apparent without being preachy.

The combination of the plot and animation was enough to even make the musical numbers and screaming babies bearable. My only gripe with the film was that I wish the Lorax was more aggressive and menacing like in the book.

Overall, the Lorax is a great effort. It’s smart, funny and has a great message. It’s almost enough to make me want to check out all those other Seuss remakes that I’ve been ignoring.

5/5 stars

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‘Lorax’ wins over Seuss fan with visuals