The Lorax (2012)

The Lorax is based on the 1971 children's book by Dr. Seuss, and has a very talented voice cast that includes stars like Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Taylor Swift, Zac Efron, and Betty White. The film is actually more than just a kids movie: it's also a cautionary tale about environmental destruction, and has PG-type humor geared toward adults. At the same time, The Lorax has colorful visuals and 3D effects that will appeal to kids.

Ted (voiced by Efron, New Year's Eve) has a major crush on his older next door neighbor, Audrey (Swift, Valentine's Day). He buys a model plane and intentionally flies it into her backyard so that he can knock on her door and talk to her; Audrey invites Ted inside and shows him a picture she's drawn on the back of her house. It's a picture of the truffula trees, which used to grow everywhere, until they disappeared. Audrey tells Ted that her goal in life is to find a real, living tree, and that she would probably marry anyone who brought her one. This of course makes Ted determined to find Audrey a tree, and his grandma (voiced by White, TV's Hot in Cleveland) tells him how to find one: go outside of town and find the Onceler, who knows of such things.

Ted finds the door to the outskirts of town, and what he sees shocks him: it is a desolate land, with tree stumps everywhere. The Once-ler lives in a decrepit house, and begins to tell Ted the story of when the trees were everywhere; and how he himself cut them all down to make a "thneed," which can be used for a variety of purposes. The Lorax warned him not to cut down the trees, as there were many animals that made their home in the forest, but the Once-ler doesn't listen; and soon enough, even though he's rich, the trees are all gone and the land is barren. The forest animals have to move away so that they can find a better place to live, and The Lorax disappears as well.

The 3D in this movie was great, although the movie itself is interesting enough that it's not really needed. The voice actors are all great, especially those that have recognizable voices, like Betty White, and with a 94-minute runtime, the movie doesn't wear out its welcome. The forest animals and the Lorax are adorable as well, although with a voice like DeVito's the Lorax tries to be more imposing. Another aspect of the plot is that the residents of Thneedville all buy purified air from Mr. O'Hare (voiced by Rob Riggle, Larry Crowne), and so he doesn't want Ted finding the trees, since he knows that people will realize the trees bring clean air and stop buying his air. One of the funnier lines in the movie said something like "Put something in bottles, and everyone will buy it" - a snide remark about people and bottled water, as O'Hare wants to "expand" his business to purified air in compact bottles as well.

Yes, see this movie. It's one of the better children's movies I've seen in a while, and kids will like the family-friendly characters in it, even if they don't understand the hidden message behind the film. The detailing in the film was superb as well; you could see the fineness of the truffula trees and the bushiness of the Lorax's mustache in each scene. If you do feel the need to see it in 3D, you won't be disappointed, either, as its used well but never in a "pop out" manner, for the most part.

The Lorax is in theaters today, March 2nd - on what would have been Dr. Seuss's 108th birthday - and is rated PG with a runtime of 94 minutes. 3.5 stars out of 5.

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