Thursday, 09 August 2012

Film Review: 10 August

A walrus/ginger-wig cross voiced by Danny DeVito – he’s cute rather than classic

Written by Kat Brown


kat brown1-BWExcepting the one whose name we dare not speak (Mike Myers's disastrous The Cat In The Hat, may it forever rest in peace in charity-shop bargain bins), Dr Seuss's zany children's books have generally had a good pageto- screen transformation.

From How The Grinch Stole Christmas to the lovely Horton Hears A Who!, they provide the American flipside to Roald Dahl's trippier children's books, as well as showing Jim Carrey to be a brilliant children's actor.

The Lorax – cuter, bigger and more colourful than all three films – should be splendid. It certainly looks gorgeous. Bless Pixar for making every other studio – here, Universal – up its game where animation is concerned.

Carrey, sadly, is absent, presumably because the settings are the most outrageous character in the film. Ted (teen icon Zac Efron) lives with his mother and grandma in Thneedville, a town totally absent of nature, where trees are battery powered and the devilish, poorly coiffed Mayor O'Hare, is plotting to sell air in plastic bottles.

Keen to impress clever Audrey (who, along with Merida in the forthcoming Pixar animation Brave, is making this a vintage summer for redheaded girls seeking screen role models), who desperately wants to see a real tree, Ted sneaks out of town in search of The Once-ler. This is a reclusive man who, it turns out, is to blame for the lack of trees in the area, having discovered a wonder fabric that could be made from the trees' leaves years ago.

While O'Hare tries to keep the town under plastic lock and key, Ted sneaks out to hear more from The Once-ler. In what feels halfmontage, half-environmental public-service message, we hear how the forest's guardian, The Lorax – a cross between a walrus and a ginger wig, and voiced by Danny DeVito – tried to warn The Once-ler about the dangers of logging. The Once-ler, equally keen to impress his horrible, grasping family, has soon mined the forest's materials to such an extent that the trees are gone and the animals have scarpered.

Presumably seeing more in Ted than his desire to impress a pretty girl, The Once-ler gives him the very last tree seed in the hope that Ted can bring nature back.

The Lorax hammers home its environmental message as hard as Ted trying to break through Thneedville's polluted crust in search of soil in which to plant his little tree: playing up the humour would have made this all a bit less overbearing.

Seuss's rhymes are nodded to in a series of songs that 'mimble' along nicely enough, but lack the verve suggested by the wonderfully animated characters, particularly Betty White's (The Golden Girls) feisty grandma.

It's certainly all very pretty to look at, but if you're hoping for something to inspire the children into appreciating our planet, you would be better off getting some David Attenborough DVDs out of the library.

Otherwise, just switch off your ears and enjoy a totally harmless and very cute 86 minutes.

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