Friday, March 30, 2012

MIRROR MIRROR: Painful Pap Through And Through

MIRROR MIRROR (Dir. Tarsem Singh, 2012)

After a gorgeous animated opening, this new fangled take on Snow White goes downhill faster than a wheelbarrow full of bricks.

I was won over by director Singh’s 2006 fantasy film THE FALL, but he lost me with the grueling action epic IMMORTALS (2011). Now Singh takes aim at the fairy tale rom com genre, and misfires miserably.

The first and biggest mistake was the huge commercial concession of casting Julia Roberts in the role of the evil Queen. Roberts is unbearably smug and she never truly embodies the part; she never even comes close to nibbling on the scenery.

Mellissa Wallack and Jason Keller’s sitcom-ish screenplay doesn’t help Roberts out either. Every one of her one-liners falls flat – take for instance her lame wise-crack that Snow White’s parents named her that “probably because that was the most pretentious name they could think of.” And that’s one of the better lines.

The twist on the premise is that the classic story is told from the Queen’s point of view, but they really don’t follow through with that as much of the movie concentrates on Snow White (Lily Collins) befriending 7 dwarves (lots of little people humor here, none of which will make anyone forget “Time Bandits”), and falling in love with a visiting Prince (Arnie Hammer)

There’s still a fair amount of Singh’s visual mastery, including swooping shots of the cliff-side castle and the striking landscape surrounding it, but the screen is mostly filled with synthetic looking sets as background to the hammy cringe-inducing acting of the cast.

Nathan Lane and Michael Lerner play the Queen’s sniveling stooges and, yep, they’re just as clunky as everything else here - though Lane has a few moments that almost amuse.

The first of 2 Snow White movies coming out this year (the darker SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN comes out in June), the slick unfunny MIRROR MIRROR is a painful pap through and through. A scene involving Roberts’ beauty regimen that involves bird feces being applied to her face is probably the most painful part, but a scenario in which a spell is put on Hammer which makes him act like a dog is up there.

I was so happy when it was over, especially as the end credits contains a tacky dance number set to a re-working of a Nina Hart song (“Love”) featuring a vocoded vocal by Snow White star Lily Collins (she’s Phil Collins daughter, you see).

At least the movie was consistent in one respect - it kept me cringing right up until the very end.

More later...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Scamming On THIN ICE

Now playing in Raleigh at the Colony Theater:

(Dir. Jill Sprecher, 2011) 

This film starts out in an insurance salesman convention world much like that of CEDAR RAPIDS, then travels through the icy murderous terrain of FARGO, winding up in an elaborate con-job scenario reminiscent of MATCHSTICK MEN.

A money-grubbing Wisconsin insurance agent (Greg Kinnear), on the outs from his wife (Lea Thompson), plots to steal a extremely valuable vintage violin from an old senile client (Kinnear’s LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE co-star Alan Arkin).

As you probably guessed, the scheme doesn’t go smoothly, especially since a burglar-alarm technician/ex-con (Billy Crudup) gets involved, and somebody gets killed.

Crudup takes a Polaroid of Kinnear with the body so he can blackmail him into disposing of it through a fishing hole in a frozen lake. Then it turns out the violin is worth more than the $30,000 Kinnear initially thought - it’s appraised by an antique musical instrument dealer (a perfectly cast Bob Balaban) at 1.2 million. This can only make these greedy unlikable people greedier and more unlikable.

Kinnear has got the desperate slime-ball shtick down, and Crudup fills out the ticks of his, also morally challenged, character nicely, but the all too familiar thriller mechanics keep the film from really taking hold.

It also doesn’t help that composer Jeff Danna cribs from Carter Burwell’s FARGO soundtrack; the comparisons to that Coen Brothers classic can only call out the faults of THIN ICE.

The film was originally titled “The Convincer,” but it was re-cut and re-titled to director and co-writer Sprecher’s chagrin. I’d love to see the original version, because there’s a considerable amount of promise in this material. 

I seriously suspect that the short choppy scenes that make up much of the movie are the result of studio interference and that Sprecher’s cut handled the narrative much better, and possibly achieved more of a connection to the characters. Of course, that’s just speculation, or wishful thinking.

As it stands now, THIN ICE goes by briskly but with little impact. It’s a competent scam movie, but it’ll only con you into thinking you’re having a good time.

In the moment you may feel entertained, but afterwards you’re left with only memories of other movies.

More later...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME: The Film Babble Blog Review

Now playing in Raleigh at the Colony Theater:

JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME (Dirs. Jay Duplass & Mark Duplass, 2011) 

This is a day in the life of 2 brothers: one’s a slacker, the other a jerk. Jason Segel, in the title role, is the slacker - a jobless 30-year-old pot-smoking lug whose life philosophy is based on the movie SIGNS. That’s right, M. Night Shyamalan’s SIGNS.

The jerk is a goateed Ed Helms as the older brother, a paint-store salesman whose marriage to Judy Greer (last seen in “The Descendants”) may be in trouble.

Susan Sarandon plays their widowed mother who gets Segel’s day going when she calls home from her cubicle in an unspecified office to ask him to get some wood glue.

Actually it’s a phone call Segel got earlier that really sets the day in motion - a wrong number asking for somebody named Kevin. “What if there is no wrong numbers?” Segel speculates, “What if it’s always the right number?”

So Segel leaves his Baton Rouge, Louisiana (the filmmakers' home town) basement dwelling to go get wood glue, but he gets caught up in a seemingly random series of events, most of which are triggered by the name Kevin coincidentally popping up at odd times. “There are no coincidences” I’m sure Segel’s Jeff would say.

While at a business meeting (or so he says) at Hooters, Helms happens to see Segel walking by. Sarandon had phoned Helms earlier asking him to help get his brother moving so, of course, Segel sees this as another sign. Their destinies take a turn when the brothers happen upon seeing Helm’s wife Greer out with another man (Steve Zissus).

They follow and spy on Greer and Zissus (Helms is either too scared or stupid to confront them), ending up at a hotel (after Segel gets diverted by another Kevin sign). This is where the film most successfully balances humor with heartfelt drama. We can see why Greer would cheat on the thickheaded Helms, and we feel Segel’s compassion for his brother’s predicament, as airheaded as it is.

The characters are better drawn and play off each other more believably than in the Duplass brother’s previous films (THE PUFFY CHAIR, BAGHEAD, CYRUS), and the film certainly feels sincere without any cynical snarkiness. Just like Jeff.

I was less annoyed by the brothers
shaki-cam framing too.

A subplot involving Sarandon and co-worker Rae Dawn Chong trying to figure out who a secret admirer at work is gets a bit cutesy, but it doesn’t detract from the overall charm and likability of this simple story.

Segel’s Jeff loves the film SIGNS because “everything comes together in one perfect moment.”

The Duplass brothers haven’t pulled off perfection here, but this sure is a terrifically unpretentious attempt.

And it’s way better than SIGNS.

More later...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mostly funny 21 JUMP STREET riffs on cop movie conventions

21 JUMP STREET (Dirs. Phil Lord & Chris Miller, 2012)

At one point in this reboot/re-imagining/re-whatever of the ‘80s show 21 Jump Street (the Fox TV show that made Johnny Depp a household name), undercover cop heroes (Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum) are in the middle of a high speed ‘don’t let the bad guy get away!’ chase, and they commandeer a Student Driver car from their high school parking lot.

A driving instructor tries to stop them from taking the vehicle, but instead of running after them yelling expletives, and/or shaking his fist at them like in so many other movies, the hapless guy just shrugs and says “Aw, who cares?” then walks out of the shot.

In that, and many other amusing moments, 21 JUMP STREET shows its hand - it’s not here to viciously satirize cop movie conventions, it just wants to riff on them playfully.

Take the chase that follows - in all chaos of gas truck collisions they side-swipe, Hill and Tatum keep expecting huge explosions, because, you know, there are always explosions in these sequences – but the film toys with that scenario with a ‘wait for it’ type teasing.

As a couple of young immature policemen named Schmidt and Jenko who think they can party while fighting crime, Hill and Tatum are assigned to Jump Street under the lead of Captain Dickson (a hilariously harsh Ice Cube perfectly parodying the clichéd angry black police chief role) who complains of the program: “All they can do is recycle old ideas from the ‘80s” Get it?

So the doofus duo gets a do over of their unhappy high school years while trying to take down a synthetic drug ring and proving themselves as law enforcers, but nobody is going to see this for its plot – it’s all about the silly scatalogical shenanigans these guys get into. However, Hill and Tatum get more laughs from their frantic one-liner exchanges than the gross-out stuff.

The supporting cast doesn’t really stand out around their schtick – Brie Larson as Hill’s unlikely love interest is just a popular yet insecure high school blonde archetype, James Franco’s younger brother Dave doesn’t register either – only Rob Riggle, who seems to be having a lot of fun with his beefy high school coach character, makes an impression.

Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (the guys who made CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS), and written by Hill and Michael Bacall (co-writer of SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD) 21 JUMP STREET falls into the tradition of making a movie out of a beloved TV show (See: Dragnet, The Brady Bunch, Starsky and Hutch, etc.) that’s as much a satire of its subject series as it is an self-consciously hip update.

It also falls into the category of movies that are just funny enough to get by (See: PAUL, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, HORRIBLE BOSSES).

Obviously, It’s not shooting to be a comedy classic (or even an action comedy classic), it seems alright with being a lowbrow lark for teenagers or for folks that want to recall their teenage memories of old campy TV shows, in a comical light.

I want to say I wish it were just a tad funnier and a little less in-jokey, but…aw, who cares?

More later...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

FRIENDS WITH KIDS: The Film Babble Blog Review

Now playing in Raleigh at the Rialto Theater:

FRIENDS WITH KIDS (Dir. Jennifer Westfeldt, 2011)

With its generic title (not to be confused with FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS or FRIENDS WITH MONEY), its recognizable cast, rom com premise and New York City setting, this looks from the outside like yet another commercial chick flick, but it’s better than that. Much better.

Jennifer Westfeldt, who starred in and co-wrote KISSING JESSICA STEIN, makes her directorial debut (she also wrote, produced, and stars), in this comedy drama centering around a couple of long time friends (Westfeldt and Adam Scott), who decide to have a baby, but not a relationship.

Westfeldt and Scott’s friends, 2 couples consisting of Maya Rudolph married to Chris O’Dowd, and Kristen Wiig married to Jon Hamm (Westfeldt’s boyfriend since 1997), are doubtful that this will work, and so are we. I mean when you walk into this movie, you know that Scott and Westefeldt will realize that they love each other and become a real couple in the end, but it’s the way it plays out the chemistry of the leads that got to me.

So what that it hits all the standard rom com story beats when it has as sharp and witty a screenplay as this, and this particular group of extremely likable and funny folks (including most of the cast of BRIDESMAIDS) making it pop?

A soundtrack with songs by The 88, and Wilco (no escaping the label “Dad rock” here) helps the flow of the film, which often feels like we’re hanging out, dining, and drinking along with along with the ensemble.

Scott and Westfeldt have difficulty dating other people, of course, but Scott gives it the old college try when he meets Megan Fox, as a Broadway dancer, who every male in the film remarks about how hot she is. On Westfeldt’s side, she’s seeing Edward Burns, who everybody (more the men than the women actually) comments about how hot he is.

Despite dating Burns, Westfeldt finds herself falling in love with Scott, of course, but he’s getting serious about Fox – for the time being we all well know.

This is all predictable rom com fodder, but the sharp dialogue and energy of the acting often made me forget that.

Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm have less screen time than the rest, but they stand out at a dinner table scene at a cabin the couples are vacationing at (See? Another rom com story beat).

It’s obvious to the others that Wiig and Hamm are miserable and on the verge of divorce. Wiig, who certainly isn’t comic relief in this film, mainly drinks copious amounts of wine, but Hamm lashes out at Westfeldt and Scott in a menacing manner that even Don Draper would be intimidated by. It’s a effectively edgy scene – Hamm is trying to cut through the crap to reality, and as heated as he is, we all know that his criticisms are true.

There’s a bunch of humorous moments and a lot of honesty in FRIENDS WITH KIDS, even though some stuff about such an arangement are glossed over.

For example, we cut from Scott and Westfeldt’s wonderfully awkward sex scene to Westfeldt giving birth. Surely, something notable between these 2 happened during the 9 months she was pregnant, right? I guess not.

But that, and a few short scenes that fall short of hitting their mark, don’t keep FRIENDS WITH KIDS from being an enjoyable, tasteful film. Now I’m not saying that Jennifer Westfeldt is the new Woody Allen, but she just entered the ballpark.

More later...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

MELANCHOLIA: The Film Babble Blog Review

I missed this movie when it played in Raleigh at the Colony Theater, and in nearby Cary at the Galaxy Cinema a few months back, but I just caught up with it, as it releases on DVD and Blu ray today:

(Dir. Lars von Trier, 2011)

It would be an understatement to say that I’ve had issues with the films of Lars von Trier. DANCER IN THE DARK depressed the Hell out of me, DOGVILLE supremely weirded me out, and I felt like I had been assaulted by his last film, ANTICHRIST.

But I actually found myself enjoying good sized chunks of Trier’s latest: MELANCHOLIA. It’s a much gentler film than he’s done before, even as it depicts the destruction of all mankind, and it contains beautiful sequences of visually poetic shots, so it’s got that going for it too.

Don’t get me wrong – this is not a complete rave. I still have issues, like the meandering narrative, the abundance of questionable cuts, the discarded story threads and characters, and it’s way too long at 135 min.

Still, it’s a Helluva half a good film – Trier’s most watchable, and least abrasive yet.

In a performance that starts off flighty but grows into her finest yet, Kirsten Dunst as a woman on her wedding day at her sister’s (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and brother-in-law’s (Kiefer Sutherland) opulent estate.

Dunst’s new husband is played by Alexander Skarsgård, son of Stellan Skarsgård, who is also in the film as Dunst’s arrogant asshole employer. An icy Charlotte Rampling and a charmingly daft John Hurt appear as the bride’s divorced parents, mostly seen in the wedding reception party that Dunst can’t seem to stay 2 minutes at.

This is fairly typical dysfunctional family drama stuff, but it’s lifted by the palpable tension especially between the sisters, Dunst and Gainsbourg.

It’s not until over an hour into the film that we learn about the approaching planet named Melancholia that Sutherland, whose hobby happens to be astronomy, keeps assuring his worried wife is going to closely pass (a “fly-by” he calls it) but not collide with Earth.

We know he’s wrong from opening visual overture of sorts, that mostly shows slow motion shots of imagery from throughout the film, set to Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” prelude, in which we see the small planet of Melancholia smashing into Earth.

I can see why some folks were disappointed Dunst didn’t get nominated for an Academy Award for her part in this film (MELANCHOLIA didn’t get any Oscar noms btw). She’s more invested and believable than I’ve witnessed before, and she does the artsy nude scenes fearlessly – it’s Lars von Trier, so we’ve got to have a shots of somebody naked laying in a forest.

Whether one will appreciate MELANCHOLIA depends on one’s interest in (or tolerance of) long weird art films. I liked it more than I thought I would, and its impression has lingered with me (not in a bad way) since I’ve seen it, so color me mildly impressed - which is so much better than being depressed, weirded out, or assaulted.

Special Features: Featurettes -“About MELANCHOLIA,” “The Universe,” “The Visual Style,” “Visual Effects,” HDNet: A Look at MELANCHOLIA,” and Theatrical Trailers.

More later...

TV Obscurities #1: The New Twilight Zone: "Dealer's Choice"

Although this is a blog primarily about movies, from time to time I post about particular television programs. In this new series, called TV Obscurities, I’m going to revisit shows from yesteryear that I think are noteworthy, or just plain amusing. This one is a bit of both:

TV Obscurities #1: The New Twilight Zone (Broadcast on 10/15/85): “Dealer’s Choice”

When CBS resurrected Rod Serling’s classic creation The Twilight Zone in 1985, it really didn’t catch on. Sure, it wasn’t given much of a chance to build an audience with its Friday night timeslot, but I remember watching it well into its second season (after it was cancelled it was revived for syndication for a third season which I didn’t see), because, well, as a 15 year old loser I didn’t have anything better to do on my Friday evenings.

As the critics at the time said, the ‘80s re-boot of Serling's immensely influential show that originally ran from 1959-1962 was extremely uneven, but there were some real gems. The Wes Craven-directed “Dealer’s Choice,” revolving around a game of poker in which one of the players is Satan himself, is one such episode.

To begin with, there’s the incredible cast: Morgan Freeman, M. Emmet Walsh, Barney Martin (Jerry’s Dad on Seinfeld), Garrett Morris (original Saturday Night Live cast member from 1975-1980), and Dan Hedeya (named Nick here - the same name he had as Rhea Perlman's ex-husband on Cheers).

It’s awesome to see Walsh and Hedeya just a year after they both appeared in the cult classic (and one of my favorite films ever) Coen Brothers’ debut BLOOD SIMPLE.

This group of great character actors is gathered together for a night of poker at Walsh's shabby abode, but things get a little dicey when the fellows suspect the new guy (Hedeya) is the Devil because he always has three sixes (get it?) in his hand when he wins. 

Of course it turns out that Hedeya is the Devil, and the guys are caught up in a game with severe consequences.

“Dealer’s Choice” is one of the comical episodes of The Twilight Zone; it doesn’t have a creepy vibe, and a crazy twist ending, it consists of five working class guys in a 2 room set, with wall paper out of BARTON FINK, reminiscent of the poker guy’s nights that John Goodman would host on the sitcom Roseanne during the same era.

I’m sure a modern update of this script, concerning playing poker onlinecould be effective, but I bet it'd be nowhere as good.

Written by Donald Todd, who would go on to be involved in shows like Caroline in the City and Ugly Betty, this segment has a number of funny lines like:

Peter (M. Emmet Walsh): “You know, a guy wants to settle in and play poker with some guys, he should come up and say, you know, ‘Hello...Hi, I’m the Prince of Darkness - can I sit in for a few hands?’”

And this priceless exchange:

Tony (Morgan Freeman): “What's the devil doin’ here in New Jersey?”

Jake (Garrett Morris): “What’re you talkin’ about, Tony? I think he lives here!”

The actual game, that comes down to Walsh Vs. Hedeya has the expected up-the-stakes suspense, but it's not really why this episode stands out to me. It's the back and forth banter between this bunch that gets me.

And you gotta love a show that ends with the protagonists finding free beer and food in the kitchen - courtesy of the Devil, who turns out to be a gracious loser.

That's another beauty of this story - the Devil is just another schmuck not unlike the guys he's gaming with, and one that will actually honor the game.

I was always a fan of these kind of episodes of The Twilight Zone, in which regular Joes dryly deal with deadly demons, and win out in the end. Sure, these may be the most trivial of the series, but they’re the ones that stick with me longer than the scary ones.

Narrator Charles Aidman sums it up sweet and simply in the outro: “Just a friendly game of cards among a friendly group of guys, who have just come back...from the Twilight Zone.”

This episode is available on DVD, and in 3 parts on YouTube: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

More later…

Friday, March 09, 2012

JOHN CARTER: The Film Babble Blog Review

JOHN CARTER (Dir. Andrew Stanton, 2012)

None of the history of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars matters to me. I’ve never read the novels or comics, and only just learned the century old background of the character, so I only see this film as another big 3D CGI’ed sci-fi/fantasy spectacle – just another CLASH OF THE TITANS or THOR, this time with a even less appealing hero.

Taylor Kitsch (aptly named), who I’m also new to since I’ve never watched Friday Night Lights, plays that hero - a Confederate Army captain in the Civil War who is transported to Mars (called Barsoom by its inhabitants), where he joins in the planet’s ongoing battles against invading aliens.

Kitsch is imprisoned by tall lanky green creatures with 2 sets of arms called Tharks, who are presented through the motion-capture performances of Willem Dafoe, Samantha Morton, and Thomas Haden Church - though I could hardly differentiate between these creatures that all look the same (sorry if that's racist to Martians).

There are 2 humanoid factions which are at war with each other over Barsoom’s resources – one is from the kingdom of Helium in which its Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) is being pressured by her father Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium (Ciarán Hinds) to marry the leader of the other faction from the kingdom of Zodanga led by the evil Sab Than (Dominic West from The Wire) in hopes for a truce.

Despite that all of this is covered in lots of lengthy exposition, I couldn’t tell you how another race - the shape shifting Therns - are caught up in this. I got lost in all the talky-ness, finding myself just waiting for more action sequences that involved flying barges reminiscent of Jabba the Hut’s from RETURN OF THE JEDI.

There’s lots of sci-fi similarities to everything that’s ever had “Star” in its title, but even with its legendary pedigree, JOHN CARTER never makes any element its own – I feel like in a few years I’ll be changing the channels and come across it and be like ‘is this Farscape? Battlestar Gallactica? Fringe?’

The $250 million budget is certainly up on the screen in the overblown chaotic displays of swords and sorcery on the red planet (which resembles the desert planet Tatooine in “Star Wars” more that it does Mars), but I was often disoriented by how cluttered and uninvolving it was, especially through my 3D glasses.

It’s far less impressive a live action debut, than director Stanton’s Pixar partner Brad Bird’s MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL last year, and that’s a shame since Stanton has done such excellent work in the animated classics FINDING NEMO and WALL-E.

It’s also off putting that the screenplay by Stanton, Mark Andrews, and Michael Chabon (!) is so dense and impenetrable - I’m sure it’s less so to folks who are previously familiar with this material, but again I can’t speak to that.

As for the romance between Kitsch and Collins, there are no sparks – something that would’ve surely helped up the stakes in the last third – so yet again, no resonance.

I will give credit to the film not being without humor. The Martians (Barsoomians?) calling Kitsch ‘Virginia’ because they misunderstood his intro is amusing, as is a bit with Bryan Cranston as a Civil War colonel back on Earth.

Otherwise, Disney's JOHN CARTER is a film mainly for geeky sci-fi minded kids, and hardcore fantasy fans, but I bet even they will only find it intermittently entertaining.

More later...

Friday, March 02, 2012

3D CGI Suess On The Loose

DR. SUESS' THE LORAX (Dirs. Chris Renaid & Kyle Balda, 2012)

One of Dr. Seuss’ most enduring tales, “The Lorax,” gets the 3D CGI treatment by Illumination Entertainment in this film which successfully follows the formula that Blue Sky Studios used in 2008’s HORTON HEARS A WHO: hip celebrity voices (including a cast member from The Office), hyper-colorful visuals, zippy Ken Daurio /Cinco Paul screenplay, and a John Powell score.

As today is the 108th anniversary of Dr. Suess’ birth, directors Renaud and Balda (the duo behind DESPICABLE ME) posit THE LORAX as a tribute to the acclaimed author’s vision.

It works as such, but mainly when it sticks to the storyline and designs of Suess’ original 1971 book. When it veers into the flashy high speed chase scenarios that dominate its second half it loses a bit of its charm. However, that doesn’t sabotage its inventive intent and sense of fast paced fun.

In a clever, yet no-brainer, casting move, Danny Devito voices the title character – a small fuzzy orange creature with a bushy yellow mustache who speaks for the trees.

A young boy named Ted (another tribute to Dr. Suess as his full name was Theodor Seuss Geisel), voiced by Zac Efron, learns the tale of the Lorax when he ventures out of Thneed-Ville, a plastic and fake city that is devoid of any nature. Ted wants to give the present of an actual tree to a girl (Taylor Swift) he has a crush on, and his Grandmother (the always welcome Betty White) advises the boy to seek out somebody called the Once-ler.

The Once-ler (voice of Ed Helms) lives in a house out in the dark tree-less terrain that used to be part of a ginormous factory that chopped down every last “Truffula” tree for material to make “Thneeds,” a useless item of clothing that was a big seller to the folks of Thneed-Ville.

After failing to stop the Once-ler from destroying the environment, the Lorax sadly lifts himself up into the polluted sky in defeat in one of the film’s most affecting images.

There is hope though, in the form of the last Truffula seed that the Once-ler gives to Ted, but he has to contend with the newly created character of O’Hare (a loud Rob Riggle) - the film’s villain who made millions off selling bottled air and will stop at nothing to keep Thneed-Ville from going green.

Chaotic sequences revolving around making sure the seed is safe from O’Hare and his goons, recall the hubbub surrounding the fate of the tiny seedling plant in “WALL-E,” but the film’s infectious energy keeps it from feeling derivative.

DeVito’s raspy line readings wonderfully give the film a great comic edge, and provide a counter balance to the sing songy slickness of Efron and Helms’ vocal stylings. Speaking of sing-songy, Swift, in both her speaking and singing, crafts the most listenable musical work I’ve heard yet from the Grammy-winning Country artist.

I can’t remember a single melody of the songs themselves, written by British composer John Powell, but they breeze inoffensively by like the rest of the movie.

Although the anti-industry, pro-environmental message may be somewhat buried in all of the shiny spectacle, (don’t worry - Fox News is digging it up) THE LORAX is an above average kid’s movie that does right by Dr. Suess’ spirit with no heavy-handiness.

I also enjoyed that my 3 young nephews, who attended the screening with me, really ate it all up. Bet you and your kids will too.

More later...