An orange glow? No matter where you come from or what you were into as a kid, the name Dr. Seuss is one we all know. Sure, maybe some more than others, but it’s still a name that has crossed over generations and will continue to. For a long time, Dr. Seuss was a name we mainly saw in books too, but after the late Theodor Seuss Geisel died in 1991 all that changed, because nine years later his widow Audrey would finally open the doors to anyone wanting to adapt one of her late husband’s books into a major motion picture. Since then, Dr. Seuss adapted films have earned over $776 million worldwide and that doesn’t even include the $121 million “The Lorax” has pulled in the last 10 days. Pretty impressive, when you figure it took nearly 60 years for any one Dr. Seuss film to make it to the big screen. I just wish a little more thought would have gone into this latest adaptation, which was OK, but not as good as it could have been.
The story here follows…young lad and “Thneed-Ville” resident Ted Wiggins and his urge to go outside the box, that was his town, and find a ‘real’ tree to impress a girl. You see, the trees in Thneed-Ville were blown up trees, like a lot of other things, so going this far to get something natural and from the earth would show a lot to Audrey, who Ted had put on a pedestal. Problem is, once outside, this would be no easy task as the land had essentially been wiped clean from all life, except for one known as ‘Once-ler.’ And after several ‘choice’ meetings with this cast-off, Ted learned this land was once filled with beautiful Truffula trees and wildlife, guarded by the Lorax. Turns out the Once-ler had this great invention that absolutely blew up, but instead of carefully building his business plan, his family came and the next thing he knew, greed started the takeover. The result was not pretty, as that once vibrant land turned grey leaving the Once-ler all alone with no one to blame but himself. Convinced he was not worthy enough to go and live in Thneed-Ville, he stayed silent until that one day when Ted came knocking on his door. So it made sense that after telling his story, he gave Ted the last known Truffula Seed. Inspired, Ted took it and planted it in the center of his town hoping to remind everyone that nature wasn’t bad. But, even the greatest of ideas can be met with strong opposition, and here that would come from town mayor O’Hare throwing this ‘green’ story for a loop.Who was in it? Really no one when you figure it was animated, but the voices behind these characters were notable including the likes of Zac Efron, Danny Devito, Ed Helms, Betty White and Taylor Swift. Yes Betty White made it into this one as the grandmother of Ted played by Zac Efron and to no surprise, made her impact. Sure, part of that was the script, but White just keeps on rolling along with no end of sight. Good for her, but the member to this cast that will most likely get looked over is Ed Helms, playing the Once-ler. He was great each and every time his character popped on the screen, making those that probably wouldn’t recognize him, look to see who is behind that voice. That’s important in films like this and why I think Taylor Swift was a shafted in a way with her role as Audrey. She was good when she had a chance, but there wasn’t enough of her in a story that I think needed more of something. Because the fact of the matter is, Efron and his Ted could only do so much making more than enough room for another young talent to make some waves.Colorful politics– Anytime you see an animated film out there like “The Lorax,” you have to wonder how it all got put together. Sure, the book in this case was the main reason, but Dr. Seuss had over 60 children’s books published over his career, so don’t think for a second no thought went into how this film was chosen. Fact is, the original book by the same name was published back in 1971 and to this day is not as loved as one might think, given the ‘doom & gloom’ environmental themes. Sure, many won’t immediately see that when watching this film, but trust me, those themes are very present. So, good for writer’s Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul, who made sure their version was laced with plenty of political undertones, which for anyone that studied Dr. Seuss, knows would have pleased him. I liked that and frankly, don’t see a difference between the environmental message here and the one in Disney-Pixar’s “WALL-E.” If anything, Universal Pictures was a little too late with this, given the Disney hit sort of already stole their thunder with their own ‘doom & gloom” depiction of how we are destroying our planet. With that said, there probably should be a movie on saving the environment every week, as maybe then, we would get the point. I just wish the premise would have spilled over into the story some more, as it wasn’t as crisp as it should have been given how the dynamic mind it was derived from.Bottom Line– It’s hard to know what the ceiling was for the producers of “The Lorax” in regards to box office and critical success, but I have to think it was set pretty high. Especially when you figure this marks just the fourth time a film was adapted from a Dr. Seuss book. I just hope they take the good out of this film and build upon that for the future, as I could certainly stand to see a few more of those forgotten Dr. Seuss fable’s. B-To read more reviews from Marcus, click here