Friday, March 16, 2012

Seussical tree-hugging

Its color-dipped, surreal world populated by typically oddball creatures and characters, “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” is a timely parable that transmits its eco-preservation message despite some iffily executed parts.
We’re introduced to the inimitable Seussical realm of Thneed-Ville, distinct because of its lack of actual trees and its various uses for the profitable invention “thneed.” It’s also a place where fresh air is sold in plastic bottles, its citizens noticing nothing amiss about the strange tradition.

Change comes when young Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) tries to impress the tree-dreaming Audrey (Taylor Swift) by looking for a real plant. He finds the Once-ler (Ed Helms), whose tale reveals the secret behind the extinction of trees, and the existence of a forest “guardian” called the Lorax (Danny DeVito).

“The Lorax” very easily absorbs viewers into its swirl of eye-pleasing oddities, the animation very busy especially when it comes to depicting its characters doing seemingly trivial things in the background or in the periphery. The Seussan denizens here are just as unique and interesting, and probably as naive as most of those from the parallel worlds of “Horton Hears a Who” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Their challenges are likewise unique, the environmental awareness points reminding young and adult viewers of real-life responsibilities.

Some points are creatively made via catchy, music video-esque numbers, but one would wish that it also had more complicated challenges for the protagonist and a more detailed origin for the villain O’Hare (Rob Riggle). But it’s still pretty solid and absorbing, obvious imperfections aside.

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