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The Lorax

Dr. Seuss' eco-oriented kids' tale gets a big, colorful screen adaptation

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In a parallel world, humans live in an entirely plastic city, having long ago destroyed all the natural vegetation. They think they're happy, until one tween leaves the walled city in search of what happened to the trees. In the devastated outlands, he meets a hermit who tells him of the once-verdant landscape and the curious creature known as the Lorax, whose warnings about deforestation went unheeded.

The Lorax, adapted from Dr. Seuss' 1971 book, is bright, candy-colored and moves at an efficient clip. Voice work is provided by Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, teen-dreams Zac Efron and Taylor Swift, and America's hardest-working granny, Betty White. It offers plenty of jokes, a song or two, and a lesson in the correct stewardship of the natural environment.

Kids and adults alike will thrill to the fleshed-out realization of Seuss' illustrations. (The film is eye-popping in 3-D, but the digital animation should be impressive in 2-D.) The imperiled trees are especially lovely, lollipop-shaped and topped with silky puffs of pink and orange floss.

The Lorax, directed by Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda, is made by the same crew that gave us Despicable Me. It lacks that film's slightly twisted narrative, instead hewing to its source material, i.e. Seuss' message-driven story wrapped in his enjoyable off-kilter visual style. But the filmmakers are no fools about their past success, here replacing Despicable's audience-pleasing minions with adorable singing fish. In 3-D, in select theaters. Starts Fri., March 2.

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