He's 40 this year, but Dr Seuss' cuddly curmudgeon The Lorax has been the one giving movie studio Universal Pictures the presents. He's pulled in $310m in cinemas already and with countries other than Ireland and the UK yet to fall for him, will end 2012 as the most successful, orange, Jimmy Edwards-style moustache-sporting oddball at the box office. Talk about deserving a bigger trailer...
Our human hero is Ted Wiggins (Efron), a youngster living in Thneedville, "a city they say that was plastic and fake. And they liked it that way!" Out to impress saucer-eyed, nature-loving neighbour Audrey (Swift), Ted promises that he'll find her a real living tree to see/hug. Easier said than done - all the trees in Thneedville are factory made and Ted must venture outside city limits in his bid to find the real thing. His quest brings him into contact with The Once-Ler, a sad hermit with a story to tell, a story about how he began full of big dreams and found paradise on his travels. But the Once-Ler didn't heed the warnings of the "legendary, slightly annoying" guardian of the forest, the Lorax, and soon his idealism went the way of the trees.
With gorgeous colours and animation, plenty of spills and thrills involving young Ted and even song and dance numbers, The Lorax has plenty to keep the smallest members of the audience hushed for 86 minutes. Weaved in between the fun, there's also a serious message about protecting the environment, the emptiness of consumerism and the importance of doing your best for those around you (hmm, don't adults need that lesson more than the kids?). In the genius that is the DeVito-voiced Lorax, directors Renaud and Balda have the most fantastic character possible to impart all kinds of wisdom, but despite the richness of the source material and the zaniness of their leading man, the movie isn't the classic it had the potential to be - it's too short and needed more top-notch jokes, and more Lorax.
Renaud and Balda can make amends with a sequel; even with the disappointments above, after seeing this movie you'll feel one is wholly justified.