There’s not nearly enough material in any of Dr. Seuss’ children’s books to adapt into a feature film, but that didn’t stop the makers of movie versions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Cat in the Hat and Horton Hears a Who. The Lorax is the latest Seuss tale to get the big-screen treatment, and its whimsical, melancholy story is stretched beyond its breaking point in order to fill out the running time.
Director Chris Renaud and screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul (the team behind Despicable Me) augment Seuss’ environmentalist fable with a framing sequence about a teenager (voiced by Zac Efron) trying to impress a girl (Taylor Swift), which is more distraction than enrichment. And absent most of Seuss’ charmingly absurd rhymes and wordplay, the lessons come off as much more clumsy and heavy-handed. The animation is lovely, with some cleverly designed locations and characters, but it isn’t enough to prop up the threadbare plot.