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March 2, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

Having already transformed most of Theodor Geisel’s most popular Dr. Seuss books into successful movie and TV versions, Hollywood has now turned to a less-loved book, The Lorax, which delivered an environmental message long before such messages became controversial. It was regarded as one of Geisel’s “serious” kids books when it was published in 1971. Kyle Smith, the politically conservative movie critic for the New York Post frames his entire review in the iambic pentameter of a Dr. Seuss tome, e.g.: I am the critic, I speak to displease/The Lorax is awful, like chronic disease./There’s no fun in The Lorax, no joy in its theme;/It’s as boring as sales tax. I’m ready to ream.” Michael O’Sullivan in the Washington Post calls the movie “an Inconvenient Truth for the 12-and-under crowd,” then goes on to remark that it “it looks like a bowl of fuzzy Froot Loops. But it goes down like an order of oatmeal. Sure, it’s good for you. It’s just not terribly good.” The problem with the movie, says Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times, is not its message, but the medium — a theatrical movie instead of a slim picture book. To expand it, he notes, “a whole lot of plot and heaping handfuls of characters needed to be invented. Not only are these people unpleasant for the most part, but the new aspects of the story are forced, frenetic and so far from the gentle but pointed original that the film’s musical riff from the Mission: Impossible theme does not sound out of place.” A. O. Scott’s review in the New York Times is the harshest of them all. Scott contends that the movie “is an example of what it pretends to oppose,” then remarks, “The movie is a noisy, useless piece of junk, reverse-engineered into something resembling popular art in accordance with the reigning imperatives of marketing and brand extension.” Nevertheless, most of the reviews of the movie are quite positive. Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News, for example, praise the film makers for their ability to “deftly balance entertainment with education.” and “meld a valuable message into catchy songs, bright images (nicely done in 3D) and funny characters.” Claudia Puig in USA Today comments that the movie “remains faithful to the spirit of Seuss. The pro-conservation, anti-consumerist message of the book is heartily intact. And, like the Seuss story, the film never resorts to sermonizing.” And Linda Barnard in the Toronto Globe and Mail bestows 3 1/2 stars on the movie, saying that it “packs a visual punch and a worthy message.” Moreover, she concludes, that Theodor Giesel, who would have turned 108 today, would probably have been “pleased by the big-screen treatment of his little 45-page book. He’d probably be happier that the rhyme that forms the central theme doesn’t get lost amid the CGI trickery and fancy 3D. Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot/Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”