‚ÄúDr. Seuss‚Äô The Lorax‚ÄĚ (PG) ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ
Danny DeVito leads an all-star cast of voicers as The Lorax in this adaptation of a Seuss classic. It appeared in 1971 when its pro-environment message was a bit fresher, perhaps, but those who urge us to exploit the environment and burn up all the fuel we have for today‚Äôs purposes will not be happy with this hymn to ecology, especially in its rollicking big chorus at the end, ‚ÄúLet It Grow.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIt‚ÄĚ is a seedling, rescued from death by the intrepid Ted (Zach Efron) who wants the seedling as a gift for his heartthrob, Audrey (Taylor Swift and also the name of Mrs. Theodore Geisel). To do so he must risk death outside Thneedville, a company town owned and corrupted by the diminutive Mr. O‚ÄôHare (Rob Riggle). O‚ÄôHare has the perfect scheme: He sells fresh air to replace the rotten air his factories create. Win-win.
With the assistance of a canny Grammy Norma, (Betty White), Ted rides his cycle to the threatening home of The Once-ler (Ed Helms), who tells Ted the story of how the trees were all cut down by him as raw material for the creation of Thneeds, a product that does so well they use up all the resources to make them.
The plot moves in fits and starts, but the writers and director wisely keep the physical high jinks cracking along, much to the delight of the pre-teen audience that has been filling the theaters. Music for ‚ÄúThe Lorax‚ÄĚ is highly eclectic, from country to rock to folk, but none of it is objectionable.
Seuss took dead-aim at the consumerism driving the destruction of the environment in the ‚Äė70s, and this version reminds us of the nature of a ‚Äúnon-renewable resource.‚ÄĚ Kids have heard the message since they were born; others of us remember when the environmental movement started. Some may find the preaching mostly to the choir, but the message struck a responsive chord with most in the audience.
For those old enough to remember, Once-ler‚Äôs face was never shown in the book or the TV version. It is here. Such is the nature of closure for parents of today. Perfectly appropriate for kids of all ages.
‚ÄúJohn Carter‚ÄĚ (PG-13) ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ
Wow! This movie took $250 million to make and who knows how many old scripts of westerns, sci-fi B movies and adventure films to find clich√©s to recap.
The plot is essentially simple, though the filmmakers make it unnecessarily complex to attempt to give it depth. Virginia cavalryman (Civil War) John Carter (Taylor Kitsch of ‚ÄúFriday Night Lights‚ÄĚ) is transported to Barsoom (Mars, in English) only to find he has one super skill: He can leap prodigious distances and heights because he is of Earth.
After several early escapes from four-armed Martians he meets Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). Clearly, she is the damsel to be rescued only, in a nod to modern feminist presence, she frequently tells Carter to get behind her so she can fight. Through various battles with confusing alliances made more confusing by the fact that one of the protagonist/antagonists can change identity at any moment, the love story wends its merry way through the special effects. The only endearing effect is a Toad Dog of great speed and loyalty who provides the only intentional humor of this two-hour ‚Äúepic.‚ÄĚ
There are other humorous moments, all of them unintentional as the script careens from banality to clich√© and back: ‚ÄúA wedding will save the city!‚ÄĚ My favorite: A four-armed Heliumite: ‚ÄúMy right arms offend me. I‚Äôll cut them off!‚ÄĚ(Helium is one of two cities fighting for control of Barsoom.)
The opposition all look like Roman centurions, but they are the only ones who speak English for the first third of the film. All of a sudden, for no apparent reason, we are no longer at the mercy of impossible-to-read subtitles, and everybody is chatting in accented English.
You‚Äôve all seen this movie in many guises for years. It defies comprehension so, if you can, enjoy $245 million of special effects. We‚Äôll leave the other $5 million for salaries.
One thing this movie proves definitively: White guys can jump.
‚ÄúProject X‚ÄĚ (R)
This mindless piece of junk, every frame cynically designed for sluggish-minded high school boys, may succeed with those with just enough wisdom left to not take a date. Any parent who hears that their daughter is going to this hyper-exploitative, foul-mouthed junk and does not lock her in her room that night should be charged with child abuse.
The cast includes nobody you have heard of before and, if there is justice, will never hear of again. The director is a first-timer for feature films and deserves to be given a shot in a career in some other field than film.
The ‚Äúplot‚ÄĚ is simple: Create a disaster out of absent parents, a pool, an idle Mercedes, alcohol and drugs; take the tops off as many C-cup girls as you can find (there is an abundant supply in Hollywood these days); and burn everything up by the end.
About 10 members of the target audience were in attendance with me, and even they didn‚Äôt laugh much. The ultimate insult to one‚Äôs intelligence occurs in the last reel when the loser of a lead who hosted the party is hailed as a hero by the dimwits that populate his school. Even his father seems to take pride in the amount of destruction his son has created.
‚ÄúPride‚ÄĚ is totally inappropriate to this disaster in every possible way. Avoid it.
Enjoy more of Mike‚Äôs movie reviews at www.towncourier.com.