3 1/2 stars = Very good
The environmental message comes through loud and clear, with voices familiar and dear, in this animated movie that faithfully translates the 1971 children's story and expands upon it with a mother and spunky granny, a boy's quest to impress his dream girl, and a new greedy businessman who sells jugs of clean air to the people of Thneedville.
The movie has bold, candy-colored landscapes, some serviceable although not memorable songs, the voices of Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito and Betty White, and a couple of villains, one who is purely unscrupulous and another who claims he's just doing what comes naturally as he "builds the economy."
"The Lorax" is set in a onetime paradise ruined by an interloper called the Once-ler (voice of Ed Helms). He stumbles upon a pristine place populated with cuddly brown bear-like creatures and Truffula trees. The Once-ler discovers he can turn the silky tufts into something called a Thneed, an all-purpose knitted garment, and cuts down the trees with disastrous results.
If only he had heeded the pleas and warnings of The Lorax (Danny DeVito), the guardian of the forest who speaks for the trees. Ted (Zac Efron) decides the way to win pretty Audrey's heart is to figure out what happened to the Truffula trees.
Director Chris Renaud and crew expertly translate the images from page to screen, present a smoggy wasteland that is scary but won't cause tears, add creative little touches and take advantage of delightful creatures such as the squeaky voiced trio of Humming-Fish.
The extras include a deleted scene, a featurette ("Seuss It Up!"), three mini-movies featuring animated characters and a singalong to "Let It Grow."
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-- PG staff and Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers