The Lorax (U)


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This synthetic 3D adaptation of the Dr Seuss book is undone by its own cynicism. It pretends to have an eco-message but the tree hugging is half-hearted in the extreme. The real agenda is cranking up the profits with yet another mass-released 3D picture.

Danny DeVito growls to good effect as the Lorax, the curmudgeonly gonk who oversees the wellbeing of the trees. The screenplay has expanded the original story with a sub-plot about Ted (Zac Effron), a 12-year-old boy living in Thneed-ville, a strictly policed metropolis where everything is artificial and even oxygen is bottled.

To impress a girl who wants to see a real tree, he ventures beyond the city walls into the wasteland where the Once-ler (Ed Helms) lives as a recluse.

We learn in flashback how, years before, the Once-ler betrayed the Lorax by harvesting thneeds from Truffula Trees, laying waste the entire forest in the process. It's up to Ted to plant the last remaining seed and thereby bring back vegetation to Thneed-ville.

The despotic local mayor (Rob Riggle) is determined to stop him. Young children may enjoy the bright colours and chirpiness but the sermonizing here rings very hollow indeed. Free-range film-making this isn't.