In the less-than-illustrious history of big-screen Dr. Seuss adaptations, Fox's 2007 animation "Horton Hears A Who" stands head and shoulders above its competitors. Admittedly, in going up against Ron Howard's "The Grinch" and the Mike Myers vehicle "The Cat In The Hat," the latter proving so bad that Seuss' widow swore she'd never again allow another live-action film of her late husband's work, it doesn't have a great deal of competition. But having said that, and taking into consideration that the film was souffle-light and immediately forgettable, it did have a big heart, some visual imagination and charming lead vocal work from Jim Carrey.
It also made a ton of money, and unsurprisingly, Chris Meledandri, who served as executive producer on "Horton" before setting up Illumination Entertainment at Universal and scoring another monster hit with "Despicable Me," has been working away at his new home on another Seuss adaptation.
"The Lorax," based on Seuss' 1971 book, is another CGI animation and this morning USA Today had a first look at the central character, a walrus-like creature who defends nature against the industrialization led by the evil Once-ler. Danny DeVito will voice the title role, with Zac Efron, Ed Helms, Rob Riggle and Betty White also among the cast.
Efron will pay a boy who befriends The Lorax (named Ted, Seuss' real name), with White, who gains another 18 months of life with every project she signs on to, as his grandmother. Helms will voice the villainous Once-ler,and Riggle will play O'Hare, another industrialist who tries to market cans of fresh air.
The original text is actually a rather grim environmental parable, which we imagine will be brightened up a little for the kids, but DeVito assures the paper that it won't pull too many punches when it comes to the message: "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."
The film, being directed by Chris Renaud ("Despicable Me"), Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio (the latter pair also being responsible for the scripts for both this and "Horton Hears A Who"), hits theaters, in 3D, in March 2012.