‘The Lorax’: The Reviews Are In!

Latest Dr. Seuss adaptation isn't winning over too many critics.

A scene from "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax"
Photo: Universal Studios

There are few authors whose oeuvre is as universally beloved as that of Dr. Seuss. The love for Dr. Seuss is so great that plenty of his stories are rife for big-screen treatment. We've seen movie versions of "The Cat in the Hat," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Horton Hears a Who," and now we have "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax," which hit theaters Friday (March 2).

Led by an all-star cast of voice talent including Taylor Swift, Zac Efron, Danny DeVito, Betty White, Ed Helms and Rob Riggle, the story follows the journey of a young boy who fights to reintroduce endangered trees to the plastic-obsessed town of Thneedville in hopes of winning a girl's heart. Despite the warm-and-fuzzy sheen of the film, critics were not as wowed by the colorful adaptation. The film currently has a 56 percent fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes but an 85 percent positive rating from audiences.

Read on as we sift through "The Lorax" reviews!

The Adaptation
"Director Chris Renaud and writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio (the team responsible for 2010's 'Despicable Me') were just the right people to bring Dr. Seuss' (a.k.a. Theodor Geisel) 1971 environmental fable to vivid, eye-popping life. It has a similar blend of humor, bouncy silliness and sweetness. And it 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. ... Disappointingly, Seuss' trademark lilting language and clever rhymes are only sporadically integrated into the story. The film does add pleasantly loopy, if rather forgettable, songs." — Claudia Puig, USA Today

The Animation
"As with 'Horton Hears a Who!' four years ago, the production design and computer-generated animation in this new 'Lorax' respect the basic lines of Theodor Seuss Geisel's illustrations, his voluptuously curvy universe of serious whimsy. Both the 'Horton' and 'Lorax' films work better, certainly, than the live-action Seuss pictures 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' and the seriously not-good 'Cat in the Hat.' 'The Lorax' is a little more like it. A little. But you couldn't accuse the film of practicing what it preaches: careful stewardship of a precious resource. The message tends to get lost in all the clanging slapstick and 'WALL-E' imagery. 'WALL-E' had the courage of its convictions as well as beauty and artistry; 'The Lorax' is just another OK feature-length animated edition (in 3-D, if you choose to pay for it) of a Dr. Seuss book." — Michael Phillips, The Chicago Tribune

The Final Word, Pro-Con-Pro Style
"Directors Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda and their team honor Seuss' original designs — those fuzzy-top trees and the comical bears and fish — while inventively creating the artificial world of Thneedville, where all the shrubbery is inflatable and it can be all four seasons simultaneously. While the film isn't a full-on musical, the creators weave in a handful of catchy songs that nestle comfortably in the ear and push the plot forward, a rare combo in most cartoons these days. The voice cast is just fine, with Helms' Once-ler traveling smoothly from protagonist to antagonist and back again. (A little of DeVito's hectoring Lorax goes a long way, and the film wisely doles him out in small doses.) Conservative commentators like Lou Dobbs are absolutely right when they say that 'The Lorax' preaches in favor of the environment and against corporatism and waste and the destruction of the atmosphere. Parents who find that to be a message that's somehow dangerous have every right not to go, but those Grinches, out of their terror of tree-hugging propaganda, will miss a real treat." — Alonso Duralde, TheWrap

"Don't be fooled. Despite its soft environmentalist message 'The Lorax' is an example of what it pretends to oppose. Its relationship to Dr. Seuss' book is precisely that of the synthetic trees that line the streets of Thneedville to the organic Truffulas they have displaced. 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. ... 'The Lorax,' while it nods in the direction of Dr. Seuss' distinctive, trippy drawing style, treats his sensibility as, at best, a decorative element. The movie's silliness, like its preachiness, is loud and slightly hysterical, as if young viewers could be entertained only by a ceaseless barrage of sensory stimulus and pop-culture attitude, or instructed by songs that make the collected works of Up With People sound like Metallica. The simple fable of the Lorax and the Once-ler is wrapped in gaudy, familiar business and festooned with grim, forced cheer. What do the kids want? Car chases! Kooky grandmas! Pint-size villains flanked by thuggish minions! Things that fly! Taylor Swift!" — A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"As much as this looks like Dr. Seuss, some of the most intriguing ideas of the original story have been changed and not always for the better. Altering the ending into one big happy party was slightly disappointing, if understandable. It was much more interesting that this strange creature would tell his story to a curious young boy and hope that this child would be able to plant the very last truffula tree seed. Not surprisingly, the movie changes that ambiguous hope into a happy-heavy ending. Sure it may be more child friendly, but the books weren't exclusively made for grown-ups. If done right, young viewers would be able to search for hope with a less obvious finale. Yet with all the over-the-top joyfulness and an extraneous villain, there is fun to be had with 'Dr. Seuss' The Lorax.' This is an enjoyable kid's flick with a message for a new generation. The environmental aspect might anger a few people but that same idea is in the book itself, there is nothing new about that here. Much like Bob Holt's take on him, I really warmed up to the character of the Lorax and what DeVito brings to this little critter that speaks for the trees. And yes, Betty White voices another wacky grandma, and everybody loves her, right?" — Jimmy O, JoBlo.com

Check out everything we've got on "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax."

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