Just about every child grows up reading a classic children’s book written by Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Who hasn’t read through One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Green Eggs and Ham or the iconic Cat in the Hat?
Last year it was reported that Universal Studios and Illumination Entertainment were teaming up to bring Dr. Seuss’ tale of environmental awareness The Lorax to screens as a CG animated 3D film. More than 12 months went by before any more information was released, but now courtesy of USA Today we have an update on the story, a list of voice actors and our first look at The Lorax himself.
The Lorax will be voiced by the talented Danny DeVito (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) while Ed Helms (The Hangover 2) will voice the “bad guy” named the Once-ler who cuts down all the Truffula Trees to make his “Thneeds.” Zac Efron (High School Musical) adds his voice as the boy named Ted, who goes looking for the Once-ler and the Lorax, while the recently ultra-popular Betty White (Lake Placid) voices Ted’s grandmother.
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Two characters that weren’t in the original Dr. Seuss story of The Lorax will be introduced in the movie: O’Hare, voiced by Rob Riggle (The Other Guys), is an industrialist who sells canned fresh air to the inhabitants of the world the Once-ler has polluted and is trying to keep it that way (for profit of course). We’ll also get Audrey, a girl who dreams of one day seeing a real Truffula forest instead of the plastic ones she sees now. Audrey was the name of Dr. Seuss’ wife and in The Lorax she will be Ted’s love interest.
Illumination Entertainment chief Chris Meledandri said this about choosing DeVito to voice the titular Lorax:
Danny has this wonderful ability to be acerbic and grouchy but at the same time absolutely lovable. It’s almost like Walter Matthau had. His comedic edge was very sharp, but he always maintained that warmth.
As for the all-important environmental message Dr. Seuss was trying to convey in The Lorax, DeVito added this statement:
Look, I don’t want to be gruff about it, but we’ve got to wake up and smell the oil burning. I’m hoping that the squeakiest wheel gets the least grease. I feel sometimes the only way to get things done is shake people up a little bit, and the Lorax is not a guy who pussyfoots around. He’s not a guy who uses kid gloves. No, no, the Lorax means business.
Universal has to be very careful with all the modifications they are making to The Lorax lest they end up turning viewers off. Adding two new characters to the classic story, one who is an additional industrial villain, and then having DeVito tell viewers they need to “wake up and smell the burning oil” reeks of a political agenda (groan).
I’m all for cleaning up the environment and teaching our kids to help keep things clean for future generations, but if the story gets too many of the usual Hollywood “tweaks” then some people may be turned off to it and the important environmental stewardship message Dr. Seuss was trying to convey will be lost – or worse, ignored.
The Lorax comes to clean up your theater in 3D March 2, 2012.
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Source: USA Today