‘Dr. Seuss' The Lorax' Blu-ray + DVD
More entertaining and enlightening than the feature-length Theodor Geisel adaptations that came before it, Universal Studio's computer-animated version of “Dr. Seuss' The Lorax” still suffers from the same fundamental problem that no amount of glossy production values, catchy pop tunes and adorable, musically inclined woodland creatures can counterbalance.
Expanding the slim 1972 volume to a 90-minute feature complete with a Hollywood happy ending means padding practically every aspect of the good doctor's succinct environmental fable, and the results are mostly engaging, sometimes enriching but occasionally overly complicated and cliched.
Still, directors Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda and screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul, who all worked on the likably off-the-wall hit “Despicable Me,” pick the most natural place to do most of the padding. They develop a full and satisfying back story for the Once-ler (voice of Ed Helms), the book's shadowy storyteller.
The movie begins in the slickly artificial city of Thneedville, where diabolical Mayor Aloysius O'Hare (Rob Riggle) has forged a corporate empire selling bottled fresh air. Like most of the denizens, young Ted (Zac Efron) is blithely content in this plastic paradise, except he longs to win the heart of aspiring artist Audrey (Taylor Swift), whose greatest wish is to grow a real, live, nonmechanical tree.
Ted's feisty granny (Betty White) advises the boy to venture outside the hermetically sealed city and track down the Once-ler, who knows what happened to the trees. Traversing the bleak wasteland outside Thneedville, Ted finds the Once-ler, who relates in vividly hued flashback his personal journey from idealistic youth to arrogant business mogul to regretful hermit.