Dr. Seuss’
The Lorax
dir Chris Renaud
scr Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul
prd Janet Healy, Christopher Meledandri
voices Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Betty White, Rob Riggle, Jenny Slate, Nasim Pedrad, Elmarie Wendel, Danny Cooksey, Stephen Tobolowsky, Laraine Newman
release US 2.Mar.12, UK 27.Jul.12
12/US Universal 1h26
The Lorax
Time for a big chase scene: Grammy, and Ted

devito helms efrom
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The Lorax Dr Seuss' eco-fable is transformed into a raucous adventure comedy in this colourful animated feature. And it's a little embarrassing really. Not only has the story been padded out with lame jokes and unnecessary side plots, but the film's pacing is all over the place, leaving both kids and their parents bored.

In the all-fake town of Thnead-ville, presided over by a greedy corporate-boss mayor (Riggle) who sells breathable air in bottles, nerdy pre-teen Ted (Efron) is trying to impress a girl (Swift). So with the encouragement of his grandmother (White), he sneaks beyond the town's walls to find an extinct real tree. There the outcast Once-ler (Helms) tells him the story of the Lorax (DeVito), an orange fur-ball who speaks for the trees and finally gave up hope. Unless there's a change of heart and people recognise that they need the trees after all.

The story isn't bad, and actually wears its tree-hugging message fairly lightly. But the screenwriters have added an inconsistent collection of random scenes and jokes that add nothing to the film at all. Through the goofy slapstick, wacky action, silly satire and trite sassy-granny gags, we keep waiting for the film to reach its stride, but it never finds any rhythm (apart from the occasional snippet of Seuss' rhyming-verse dialog).

All of this means that we're unable to identify with the annoying characters or situations. Even though the film is luridly colourful and hyperactive, it feels rather boring when there's no one on screen whose story we care about. The voice cast even seems strangely subdued, adding very little personality to the characters. All that's left for us to enjoy is the sharply textured animation and random flashes of deranged wit that don't really fit but make us laugh.

And it does look pretty terrific, with a plasticky-fuzzy sheen that cleverly captures Dr Seuss' vertiginous imagery. Although it might not have been such a good idea to insert the original book's drawings into the closing credits, because that only magnifies how random and out-of-balance the film is. And it makes us want to re-discover the book instead.

cert u themes, cartoon violence 2.Mar.12

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall