dr seuss the lorax

Maybe it was the message. Maybe there are so many people out there just dying to hear how trees save us all, how we have to take a stand for what we believe, how it’s our Earth, too. Maybe people just can’t wait for the summer movie season to become a year-round period, but we’ll get to that in the weekend analysis below. Or maybe they just thought the Lorax was cute. Whatever the reasoning behind it, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax took top honors at the box office this weekend, and it did so with a fury. There’s a healthy dose of shock that comes with learning the film topped the opening weekends for How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Jim Carrey, not Boris Karloff – The Cat in the Hat – that one’s not so much a shock as it is appropriate – and Horton Hears a Who! It easily becomes the biggest opening for a Dr. Seuss adaptation, which means Green Eggs and Ham starring Justin Bieber and Zach Galifianakis can’t be far behind.

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Everyone involved in Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, from co-directors Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda to the Universal Pictures marketing division, has been faced with a tricky balancing act. On one hand, there’s the need to remain true to the spirit of Seuss’ anti-consumerist work, his most earnestly activist effort. On the other, there’s the requisite allegiance to 3D animated family movie standards and the obligatory corporate tie-ins that come with promoting such an effort. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve seen Seuss’ mystical mustachioed creation across the advertisement spectrum lately, in everything from IHOP ads to printer spots and Mazda car commercials. Sure, Universal has made a point of pursuing advertising partners with “green” tie-ins/messages, or so they claim, but the Lorax’s ubiquitous commercial presence leaves the sort of rotten taste that only comes with the betrayal of a sacrosanct legacy. Fortunately, the film itself fares better. It’s a pleasant, minor-key affair that gives appropriate attention and weight to the important environmentalist message. The picture asks that its young viewers sit up and take notice of the world around them; it demands that they put down the video games, learn to care about nature and seek to preserve it.

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Universal Pictures will turn a century old on April 30, and in advance of their 100th birthday, the studio has trotted out a new (shiny!) logo that touts their triple-digit age. Why they didn’t get Willard Scott to do one of those Smuckers Jam birthday label shout-out things on The Today Show, I simply don’t know, but there’s still time! Of course, that new logo is neat and all (and, again, shiny!), but what’s most exciting about this news is the studio’s announcement that they will also celebrate their centennial with the restoration of thirteen of its most famous films. THR reports that the studio has restored All Quiet on the Western Front, The Birds, Abbott and Costello’s Buck Privates, Dracula (1931), the Spanish-language Dracula (which was filmed on the same set at night), Frankenstein, Jaws, Schindler’s List, Out of Africa, Pillow Talk, Bride of Frankenstein, The Sting, and To Kill a Mockingbird. The studio plans to release the restorations throughout 2012. Many of the restorations will be sold in “collectible book style packaging with memorabilia.” Moreover, Universal is reportedly quite happy with the work on previously damaged films, particularly when it comes to crisper sound in Frankenstein and “appalling graininess” in To Kill a Mockingbird. Also, fans of Out of Africa can breathe a sigh of relief – as “Meryl Streep loses a weird wobble in her walk possibly caused by projectors that enlarged the sprocket holes.” I wish it was Universal’s 100th birthday every day!

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