Dr Seuss' The Lorax, Chris Renad, 86 mins (U)
An ecological fable ... padded out with industrial levels of filler
Hollywood keeps foisting Dr Seuss adaptations on us, whether live-action (The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, The Cat In The Hat) or animated (Horton Hears A Who!), but they all trip over the same hurdle, which is that most films take about 90 minutes to watch, whereas Dr Seuss's books take about nine minutes to read. His eco-fable, The Lorax, is especially short and sweet. It begins with a boy trekking through a barren landscape to visit a hermit called the Once-ler. The Once-ler tells the boy how, in his youth, he was chopping down a tree when an orange furry gnome, the Lorax, materialised and scolded him for despoiling the natural world. But the Once-ler didn't listen, hence the barren landscape. The End.
The makers of Dr Seuss's The Lorax expand this scenario into a full-length cartoon by shovelling in industrial quantities of filler. One sequence has the Lorax (voiced by Danny DeVito) dropping the Once-ler (Ed Helms) into a river, while he's in bed, and then racing to stop the bed going over a waterfall because a bear cub is sitting in it, too. The film-makers couldn't have padded out the book more blatantly if they'd used foam rubber.
And if it weren't painful enough to see Dr Seuss's story being stretched to breaking point, the screenwriters have also added a whole new story featuring the boy (Zac Efron) who hears the Once-ler's tale. He, it seems, lives in a futuristic city constructed entirely of plastic, right down to the inflatable vegetation. When his dream girl (Taylor Swift) mentions her desire to see a real, live tree, he ventures beyond the city walls in search of the fabled Once-ler – but his quest sets him at odds with a fat cat who sells bottled air.
After a promisingly satirical opening musical number, the sequences in the plastic city feel padded, too. But they do at least have some pace and plotting, so the director might have been better off using them as the basis of a bright, zippy sci-fi cartoon, and getting rid of the Lorax altogether. (Not since Waiting For Godot has a title character contributed so little to the action.)
As it is, the film keeps cutting back and forth between the boy's adventure and the Once-ler's reminiscences, bringing each section to a standstill again and again.
Dr Seuss's The Lorax is a joyless, soulless product, notable only for the directness of its anti-capitalist, environmentalist message. And even that's problematic. Are children really going to learn much about the value of nature from a candy-coloured, computer-generated, Murdoch-owned cartoon which encourages the use of plastic 3D glasses, and finishes with the most artificial of auto-tuned pop songs?
Fasten your seat belts and expect a touch of Vertigo as the mammoth retrospective The Genius of Hitchcock kicks in at London’s BFI Southbank, through until October. Also, Patricio Guzman’s extraordinary star-gazing documentary Nostalgia for the Light vaults poetically between the cosmos elusive star and the Pinochet years in Chile.
Arts & Ents blogs
Owen Howells is a DJ/producer who grew up in Australia but was born in the UK. He came back to the U...
Fancy seeing a play about serial killers? How about inviting a funeral director into your home for a...
There are a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refl...
Liam Gallagher slams Daft Punk: 'I could have written Get Lucky in an hour'
Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
Archaeologists uncover nearly 5,000 cave paintings in Burgos, Mexico
Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
After 61 films, including The Hangover Part III, Heather Graham admits she still likes to boogie
- 1 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 2 'Something passed underneath us, quite close': Airbus A320 has close encounter with UFO
- 3 Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
- 4 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
- 5 Exclusive: Woolwich killings suspect Michael Adebolajo was inspired by cleric banned from UK after urging followers to behead enemies of Islam
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.