Dr Seuss' The Lorax, Chris Renad, 86 mins (U)

2.00

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?

Critic's Choice

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 and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there