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Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington

Wilmington on DVDs: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax


DR. SEUSS’  THE LORAX COMBO PACK (Blu-ray or 3D Combo) (Two or Three Discs) (Three Stars)

U.S.: Chris Renaud/Kyle Balda, 2012 (Universal)



A long time ago, back in ’71, In a season of tumult and fear,

The good Dr. Seuss, with his pens sharp and loose, Wrote a book called “The Lorax,” we  hear.

It was all about greed , about Oncelers and thneeds, About  chopping down Truffula trees.

About spoiling the earth, trading all of its worth for some loot and Despicable “Mes.”

Ah Seuss, you’re a treasure! A yarn-smith past measure. You’re a wizard  of satire and glee!

Your Lor-ax is a beaut! It’s a gem. It’s a hoot. It’s a love song to all the Earth’s trees!

For some people love plants and some people don’t. And some congressmen don’t care at all.

But the Good Dr. S. saw his way through the mess, Give  a hug to the trees one and all.



Well, many more, double-score, long years have passed And the Doc isn’t here any more.

But his book still amuses us, wows us and woozes us. Settles those pro-Nature scores.

Ah! That wonderful tome, that great Seussian pome, With its message of gloom, doom and hope,

Is now up on the screen, a real CGI dream… So why do you feel like a dope?


Why does the cast seem like green eggs and ham? Why are the songs slightly gooey?

What is Ed Helms here? A hung-over Onceler? Why does the end go ker-flooey?

Why is Danny DeVito — a perfect Seuss voice guy — a Lorax who sounds like a Louie?

And check out Zac Efron, getting Swift with Ms. Taylor, but sounding like Huey or Dewey.

It isn’t as if this show were a bomb. It’s made by intelligent guys.

They know how to shoot. They think Seuss is a toot, They love trees and love cracking wise.

Cinco Paul, and Ken Daurio, and Chris Renau-rio, the gang from  Despicable Me:

Got too loud and too cheery, Too sick and too leery: Too much of a big-movie spree.

You see, Seussian stories, in all of their glory, work best when they’re gentle and spry.

And the recent parade of  big movie charades makes them seem kind of  bloated and dry.

The show means to please kids, and please them it will. And I’ll drop a political hit:

I’d rather be lectured by Seuss and Obama, than bored by Pawlenty and Mitt.

For some people love trees and some people don’t. And some congressmen don’t care at  all.

But the Good Dr. Seuss got us totally juiced. Give  a hug to his Lorax, you all!



Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is a big bouncy computerized cartoon feature with its heart in the right place about nature and resources and how important it is to shepherd them in the right ways — and how important it is not to let greed and selfishness and the lust for money and exploitation of those resources set the agendas, blight the landscapes and ravage the earth. (I wouldn’t think those would be controversial positions, but apparently they are.)

It’s a good movie that should have been better. But The Lorax’s wit and liveliness and sometimes magical visuals — not to ment6ion Danny De Vito‘s gently boisterous voice performance as The Lorax –.are  undermined by the sheer scale of the project  and it’s sometimes overbearing treatment and style. That tone makes the whole show entertaining but a little too techno-heavy, predictable and CGI slap-happy for its own good.

I havent seen the 1972 cartoon version — the shorter, less expensive one directed by Hawley Pratt and narrated by Eddie Albert— but I’m sure it would have been more congenial. “The Lorax” is a story that cries out for a gentler, more lyrical, more modest approach, for more Seussian rhymed narration. The book, first published in the first Nixon preseidency, was another of Dr. Seuss’ delightfully rhymed and rhythmed storybook fables with their big, goofy drawings of mythological Seuss-beasts and of small boys or creatures (often named Bartholomew) who fought the good fights or hatched the good eggs (Horton  the Elephant, of course), and learned lessons about life as they skittered over the words and Seuss-creatures and silly names on each spacious page.

“The Lorax” was probably the most obviously political of all Seuss’s books; an undisguised ecological fable  that attacks mean corporate types (like the Once-ler) — the story’s reckless, greedy  ‘job-creator who strips the land and chops down the Truffula Trees and their gorgeous little tufts to make the highly sable miracle item, the thneeds. (Imagine them telemarketed on cable.) The Once-ler and his minions and machines keep chopping and chopping until the very last Truffula Tree is chopped down, and the landscape has become a desolate , smoggy wasteland, with the Onceler left to lament his misdeeds and mis-thneeds.

It’s also about the Lorax, a prescient feisty little mutton-chopped chap, with a fuzzy face who “speaks for the trees,” and warned the Once-ler that what he was doing was wrong. A perfect part for the movie’s Danny De Vito, who was born to read Seuss –even if I expected more.

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is unabashedly political and pro-conservation and that’s what makes it controversial, I guess. But the movie, which is big and overblown (even IMAXed). isn’t really as bad as its nay-sayers say, including the kind of right-wing scolds who think Happy Feet Two was a treasonour plot.

Dr. Seuss was also known as Theodore Geisel; Efron’s Ted and Taylor Swift’s Audrey, the teen-dream lovers of the movie, are a tribute to Ted Geisel and his wife Audrey. And Seuss, or Ted, sometimes called “The Lorax” his favorite book. (I prefer “Horton Hatches the Egg.“) This is not though the best Dr. Seuss movie. (The best remains Chuck Jones’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.) But you’d be wrong to deprive your kids of seeing it. Just make sure you get them the original book though — which is the one Lorax marketing tie-in that shouldn’t be ignored.

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One Response to “Wilmington on DVDs: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax”

  1. Corbyn says:

    Dr. Seuss is the quintessential children’s book writer ever and everyone knows at least one of his stories. My personal favorite is The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and I loved Horton Hears a Who. After seeing how well Horton was made I decided that I need to see this one as well. The kiosk around the corner doesn’t have it available for rent until September 4th so a Dish co-worker suggested I try Blockbuster @ Home. It delivers the movies in my online queue straight to my door, which cuts down on time trying to find the movie I want to see. I requested it last week before the movie even came out and I got it yesterday. I get to spend the weekend with my kids watching this wonderful book come to life and that’s a great way to spend the last weekend before they head back to school.


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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon