SALT LAKE CITY — From the same people who gave us "Despicable Me" — a movie I liked a lot — comes the new Universal film "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax."
Moviegoers are introduced to the ideal town of Thneedville, the paramount in modern living where citizens no longer have to worry about live trees or real grass because everything is plastic. Zac Efron gives voice to Ted, a precocious young boy who lives with his mother and feisty grandmother.
Our young hero is head over heels infatuated with the lovely Audrey, who sounds a lot like Taylor Swift. In the process of always looking for an excuse to cross paths with Audrey, Ted discovers she longs to have a real tree. Imagine such a thing? Nobody has seen a real tree for years and for the younger Thneeds, they've never seen a tree at all.
Teds turns to Grandma for the real story of what happened to the trees? Grandma, voiced by Betty White, tells her grandson that the only person that might know is the Once- ler who lives outside the walls of the town, a place Ted, and many Thneeds, have never been.
Each scene is loaded with visual treats and the voice work is great.
Bolstered by his need to impress Audrey, Ted begins his odyssey that does, indeed, introduce him to the Once-ler, a mysterious recluse who announces that he is the reason there are no trees. Over a series of visits, the Once-ler tells his story.
As a young man, he had the idea to manufacture Thneeds, a sweater-like thing that required the tufts from trees. But when a tree is cut down, a grumpy little character appears who announces he "speaks for the trees." This is the Lorax, voiced by Danny DeVito. A deal is struck guaranteeing that trees will not be cut down while the tufts are harvested. Pressure from a greedy family and the popularity of the Thneeds causes the Once-ler to break his promise. Utter devastation follows, including the departure of the Lorax.
Meanwhile, Ted's exploits outside the walls of the village come to the attention of Mr. O'Hare who manufactures the air for Thneedville. When he finds out that Ted is interested in trees, he sees his monopoly on air could be threatened.
The beloved, fanciful characters from the mind of Dr. Seuss are lovingly placed on the big screen.
After the Once-ler determines this boy has a good heart and is beginning to truly care about the plight of the outside world, Ted is entrusted with the very last seed and is told to plant it in the middle of town.
Will Ted succeed? Will the trees, and thus the forest creatures and the Lorax, make a comeback? High adventure follows that is a lot of fun to watch. Those who enjoyed the book will enjoy the movie. The beloved, fanciful characters from the mind of Dr. Seuss are lovingly placed on the big screen. Each scene is loaded with visual treats and the voice work is great, especially DeVito and Betty White.
There is nothing hidden here. The movie carries a clear and unabashed environmental messages but it's not heavy handed. It's just part of the story. So, when is Arbor Day anyway? I need to plant a tree.
"Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" is rated PG and I'm giving it 3 stars.