Few among us, children and parents alike, don't have a soft spot in our heart for the delightful books of the late Dr. Seuss. The fantastical art, whimsical rhymes and subtle life lessons commingled to make legendary children's books.
Which is why this animated movie version of the Seuss classic is such a missed opportunity. It's as if a computer analyzed the component parts of the book and extrapolated them out into a feature film. In theory all of the pieces are there, but the movie lacks a soul.
Former teen heartthrob Zac Efron voices a love-struck student trying to impress a neighbor girl by finding her a real tree outside of the nature-bereft, prefabricated bubble of a city they live in. In his search, he learns the tale of how all of the trees disappeared and of their protector, a mustachioed beaver-like creature voiced by Danny DeVito.
Despite the listless animation and bland script, my upbeat 8-year-old daughter still enjoyed the film, as will your kids. Appropriate for kids 6 and older. (PG: Mild language and peril). 1 hour and 26 minutes.
Ratings (out of 4 stars):
Overall: 2 stars
Kids: 2½ stars
Teens: 1½ stars
Adults: 2 stars
Seniors: 2 stars
Should you watch it? No -- I would not watch it in a house or with a mouse.
Filmmaker Ed Burns, intentionally or not, is becoming the new Woody Allen. He shoots small romantic comedies in New York and serves as writer, director and leading man in those movies. The films, while very different, also have a common flavoring to them that makes their paternity instantly recognizable, even if you only see a few minutes out of context.
In this iteration, Burns cast himself opposite the exquisite Caitlin Fitzgerald as newlyweds in their second marriage. We see the bloom come off the rose as each of their wacky sisters strains the relationship by pushing boundaries with their bad behavior.
Shot in a faux reality-show style, complete with the actors giving side interviews in character, Burns is able to craft, yet again, searing insight into human relationships. The acting is strong, with Kerry Bishé delivering a standout performance as his troubled sister. And all of this with a reported budget of only $9,000 and a shoot of just 12 days.
There are a few funny moments, but this is not a romantic comedy. Nor is it a traditional Hollywood love story. Instead, it's a digestible slice of the trials, tribulations and triumphs of marriage.
The challenge for Burns with this and his future projects, is to continue creating films that resonate as genuine, while simultaneously branching out into new thematic territory. Serving up another New York-themed romance will start to wear thin.
Women will certainly enjoy, as will the more sentimental men among us. (PG-13: Language and sexual themes). 1 hour and 35 minutes.
Ratings (out of 4 stars):
Overall: 3 stars
Teens: 2 stars
Adults: 3 stars
Seniors: 2½ stars
Should you watch it? Yes -- charming second-time-around romance.
J.B. Alderman lives in Piedmont and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.