Illumination Entertainment has been all about the colorful family-friendly films up to now (see: Despicable Me, Hop) and that won’t change with the studio’s latest 3D CGI production: The Lorax, based on beloved children author Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel’s environmentally-conscious 1971 book.

Kid-friendly animated entertainment with environmental messages are somewhat infamous for being annoyingly preachy or cloyingly unsubtle in their approach (see: Ferngully: The Last Rainforest, the Captain Planet TV series, etc.). Based on its newly-released trailer, does The Lorax look to travel a similar path… or will it be less inclined to spoon-feed moviegoers its morals – and therefore make for more pleasant viewing?

This early Lorax footage actually indicates the film could go more the latter route. Seuss’ original themes and issues look to still be featured prominently, as is fitting for a proper adaptation of his book. However, the movie seems to focus foremost on being a brightly colorful and imaginative children’s tale – one that could surprisingly have a more timeless feel that’s all the more welcome in an age where kid’s entertainment often seems to go overboard with contemporary humor and cultural references (The Smurfs, looking at you…).

Chris Renaud directed The Lorax, which reunites him with his Despicable Me scribers Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul. The film tells the story of a young boy named Ted (voice of Zac Efron) who desires nothing more than to win the affection of the (literally) glowering girl-next-door, Audrey (Taylor Swift). Thus, Ted sets out to find the titular character (Danny DeVito): a “grumpy yet charming character who fights to protect his world.”

With that in mind, check out the trailer for The Lorax below:

Daurio and Paul were also responsible for scripting the 2008 Seuss adaptation, Horton Hear a Who!. That film managed to do quite well at the box office, was largely admired by critics and casual moviegoers alike, and is generally considered a movie that remains true to the whimsical nature of its source material – not to mention, translates the themes and ideas raised in Seuss’ original story in an appropriate manner.

Seeing how The Lorax uses many of the same ingredients as Horton (ie. animation style, writing talent, approach to storytelling), it stands to reason that the former could also turn out pretty good. Plus, the celebrity voice-casting here actually seems mostly spot-on and non-distracting…  though, admittedly, it is difficult to envision anyone but DeVito, regardless of the cartoon character, who boasts his vocals.

If nothing else, at least we can be thankful that The Lorax isn’t getting the Cat in the Hat treatment and being reduced to a live-action vehicle for incongruous bathroom/sex humor and shameless comedian mugging. Just marinate on that description for a moment.

On that note – check out the Lorax poster below:

The Lorax will be released in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D (note: the pun in the poster above) theaters around the U.S. on March 2nd, 2012.

Source: iTunes Movie Trailers