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DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX – The Blu Review

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By Joe Vanourney

Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” is now available to buy in both a 3D/Blu-Ray Combo Pack as well as a 2D/Blu-Ray Combo Pack.  Both sets include a standard DVD as well as Digital and Ultraviolet copies.

“The Lorax” transports viewers into a fantastical landscape imagined by Dr. Seuss and the film’s eco-friendly message is vividly brought to life by Chris Meledandri and his filmmaking team at Illumination Entertainment (“Despicable Me”). Directed by Chris Renaud (“Despicable Me”) from a screenplay adapted by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul (“Despicable Me,” “HOP,” “Horton Hears a Who”) from the 1971 children’s classic, the film is an imaginative and colorful journey that begins in the town of Thneedville, where a boy searches for the one thing he knows will win the heart of his dream girl—a Truffula  tree. But in order find it, he must discover the story of the Lorax, the often grumpy but loveable protector of Truffula Valley.

Danny DeVito (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Twins,”  “L.A. Confidential”) lends his voice to the Lorax, the remarkable creature who “speaks for the trees,” with Ed Helms (“The Hangover,” “The Hangover Part II”, “The Office”) as his enigmatic nemesis, the Once-ler. The cast also includes Zac Efron (“High School Musical,” “The Lucky One,” “17 Again”) as Ted, an idealistic 12-year-old searching for the Lorax; Grammy® Award winner Taylor Swift (“Valentine’s Day”) as Audrey, the girl of Ted’s dreams; Rob Riggle (“The Hangover,” “Big Miracle”) as the villainous O’Hare; Jenny Slate (“Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,” “SNL”) as Ted’s protective mother; and five-time Emmy® Award winner Betty White (“The Proposal,” “Hot in Cleveland”) as Ted’s wise Grammy Norma.

The film itself is a mid-level achievement, not ranking in quality story or animation-wise with the better animated films out there, but it’s not amongst the worst either.  The eco-friendly message is clearly and simply aimed at grade-school children, and it will succeed in keeping them entertained (I watched with my five-year old son and used him as a reference point).  But adults may be somewhat bored with it as it lacks a lot of the double entendres and pop culture references that many of today’s animated features have to keep the grown-ups entertained (although some may argue that THAT is a positive thing).  The songs is the film fall on the catchy side, and I will say that there is a trio of singing and dancing “humming-fish” that made me laugh every single time they danced and sang their way across the screen.

The film does LOOK pretty with the animators capturing the spirit and color of Dr. Seuss’ work brilliantly and the Blu-Ray pops with vivid colors. The presentation here in terms of picture quality is quite good.  In terms of sound quality, the sound mix isn’t as complex as some of the bigger blockbusters, so the presentation is adequate for what is being delivered.

The Blu-ray does contain an extensive list of special bonus features:

Let’s start with the main one—the 3 “mini-movies”–as they are the ones being advertised heavily on both the Blu-ray box as well as the television commercials.  The three are:

Wagon Ho! (3:10)—A cute short involving two bar-ba-loots (bears) who take a donkey-driven covered  wagon for a joyride.

Forces of Nature (2:14)—The Lorax and Pipsqueak cause some mischief after dark as they try to scare Once-ler as he sleeps.

Serenade (3:19)— Two Bar-ba-loots — one love shy and the other suave and confident — battle for the heart of their would-be sweetheart with the help of a colorful cast of characters, including the Humming-Fish and Swomme-Swans.

Making of the Mini-Movies (3:31)—A short documentary where the director and writers discuss how the three “mini-movies” came to be.

Calling these mini-movies is very misleading. They are outtakes. You know, those deleted scenes that are always featured as special features on DVDs that most of the time have a very good reason for being excised from the final film?   Well that’s what these are.  Outtakes.  With end credits plastered at the end.  They even pretty much say so in the “Making of the Mini-Movies” doc. Do they stand on their own?

Well, I suppose they do.  Sort of. But they’re stretching here. Big disappointment for me.  But my five-year old liked them. So that counts for something.

Deleted Scene (1:31)- An extended version of a scene from the film.  I guess since part of this scene WAS included in the final film, that prevented them from slapping some end credits at the end and claiming it was a 4th “mini-movie.”

“Let It Grow” Sing Along (3:42)—A Karaoke-style sing-along to the end credits version of the song “Let It Grow.”

Seuss to Screen (4:31)—A wonderful, but short, documentary about converting the classic book to a feature-length film, with insights from the director, art designers, producers and cast.

There is also a bonus feature called Expedition to Truffula Valley.  In this feature, you use your remote to navigate through Truffula Valley, stopping on characters from the movie where you can click on them to reveal things like character bios, concept art, and videos from voice talent who played the characters talking about their experiences and giving insights on playing them.  These videos are brief and I wish they were edited together to make a more cohesive featurette or documentary.  I didn’t like having to “explore” in order to find them.  There were also three videos hidden in Truffula Valley with four minute art tutorials teaching kids how to sketch some characters from the film.  This was a nice feature—yet, once again, hidden.

An informative audio commentary track with co-directors Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda is included.  The track is interesting at times and not as dull as it could have been.  They discuss challenges of converting the book into a feature and how they went about expanding the world of Seuss.

Finally, there are some games aimed again at younger children.  The first, Truffula Run, is a simple game of using your DVD remote to move right or left to collect Truffula trees while avoiding tree stumps.  The second, Get Out of Town, involves maneuvering a scooter through an obstacle course.  The third, Once-ler’s Wagon, involves clicking on objects from the wagon to show animals from the film playing with that object in some way.  My son enjoyed playing with these games for a short time before quickly becoming bored.

Overall, while leaving much to be desired for adult viewers, “The Lorax” will be enjoyed by the younger crowd.

FILM QUALITY: 3 OUT OF 5 STARS

VIDEO QUALITY: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS

AUDIO QUALITY: 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS

BONUS FEATURES: 3 OUT OF 5 STARS

For more information, please visit www.theloraxmovie.com.

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