Given his legacy in children's literature, one would think Dr. Seuss's stories would make similarly beloved movies. Oh the places they could have gone … rather than silly live-action duds like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat. Dr. Seuss' short stories work far better as animated featurettes, such as the '70s era TV specials and the more recent Cat in the Hat series on PBS.
Illumination Entertainment at least got it right with 2008's Horton Hears a Who. The filmmakers understood the source material well enough to build on the story while remaining true to the theme and tone. Horton made for a charming, funny, and well-animated feature that even got some viewers thinking about faith vs. science—the nature of belief in things unseen.
Illumination returns to the Seuss library with The Lorax, one of his most memorable stories and stronger narratives. Surely this one would be a cinch to successfully adapt to the big screen? Not quite.
The Lorax is a cautionary tale that features a young boy visiting a mysterious recluse called The Once-ler, who tells the boy his woeful story of entrepreneurship, greed, and environmental waste. He once discovered a magnificent resource in Truffulas (fluffy, cottony palm trees) that led to his invention and production of multi-purpose garments called Thneeds. Enter The Lorax, a mysterious, fuzzy, mustached lump who sprouts from the first tree stump. He speaks for the trees and warns The Once-ler to stop exhausting the supply of Truffulas before it's too late. Given The Once-ler's later status and the barren landscape of his home, it's obvious he didn't listen.
Though this film stays (mostly) true to its simple roots, more was needed to make it feature length. The filmmakers ...