YOUNG: I SPEAK FOR THE MOVIES

The Lorax

Starring the voices of Danny DeVito, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Ed Helms, Betty White; directed by Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda


At the far end of town
where the tinsel-town glows
and the films smell sweet-and-sour when they’re shown
and no scripts ever sing excepting old shows…
is the Spool of the Frittered Lorax.
And deep in its garish-sass, some critics say,
if you look deep enough you can still see, today,
where the Lorax was good
just as long as it could
before someone transformed the Lorax away.
What was the Lorax?
And why was it fair?
And why was it transformed and taken nowhere
from the quaint kids book where the giggle-laughs grows?
The old Fuss-ler still can hear.
Ask him. He knows.
You won’t like the Fuss-ler.
Don’t knock his strained lore.
He stays with his like kin at the back by the door.
He lurks in the shadows, cold as a big coot,
where he creates his tomes
out of miff-muted spoof.
And on special dank midnights in mid-March,
he peeks
out of the curtains
and loudly he speaks
and tells how the Lorax was frittered away.
He’ll tell you, no doubt…
so you won’t have to pay.

Dr. Suess’ The Lorax.
Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment – © 2012 Universal Pictures

At the end of his rope
he lets out a loud wail
and he has to toss out his two cents
and a flail
and the shill of a great-great-great-
painful regale.
Then he walks back his trail
makes a willful pout
to see if you’ve heard him
and taken account.
Then he grunts, “I will tell you as loud as a drone,
for the message I tell you are for all ears to hone.”
SLUPP!
Out slupps the whispers that drone in your ear
and the old Fuss-ler’s viewpoints are yelled far and near,
since they have come down
through a snergelly nose,
and he sounds
as if he had
heavy things on his toes.
“Now I’ll tell you,” he says with his teeth gnashing fray,
“how the Lorax got frittered and pilfered away…

“It all started way back…
such a long, long time back…
Way back in the days when kids films were still keen
and the ink was still wet
and the scrolls were still seen,
and the cartoon characters stayed in their flat space…
One morning, I chanced upon a glorious nook.
And I first read the book!
The Dr. Seuss book!
The bright-colored kooks of the Dr. Seuss book!
Page after page in the fresh morning breeze.
And, within the book, I learned a lesson to boot
frolicking about in colorful hoot
as I read in the shade and ate truffles and fruit.

“But that book! That book!
That Dr. Seuss book!
All my life I’d remember
a book with this look.
Filmmakers came knocking
with need on their parts.
They knew just what to do!
They unfolded their charts.
In no time at all, they had gathered a flock.
Then they chopped up the Dr. Seuss book with one chop.
And with low skillful skill and with great speedy greed,
they took the good book, and they projected a screed!
The instant it flickered, I heard a ga-Zump!
I looked.
I saw something I couldn’t stomach
from the book I’d once known. It was a sort of film.
Describe it?... That’s hard. I don’t know if I can.

“It was loutish. And mawkish.
And reekish. And messy.
And it spoke with a voice
that was harshish and gawky.
‘Fuss-ler!’ it said with an annoying tease,
’I am the Lorax. I swing for your fees.
I swing for your fees, for the funds have no tongues.
And I’m showing you, sir, at the top of my lungs’—
he was very insistent as he shouted and puffed—
‘What’s that THING you’re saying about my winsomely fluff?’
Look, Lorax, I said. There’s cause for alarm.
I just saw your film. It is doing much harm.
I’m being quite useful. Your film is flawed.
A film’s a fine-something-that-most-people-awed!
It’s a flirt. It’s a shock. It’s a trove, it’s a pat.
But it’s not simply cheesy. Yes, far beyond that.
You can’t fill it with action. With villains! With cheats!
Or changes! Or covers for musical bleats!
The Lorax said,
‘Sir! You are crazy to believe
There is no one on earth
who wouldn’t buy my fool wheeze!’

“But the very next minute I proved he was wrong.
For, just at that minute, a chap came along,
and he thought my screed I had written was great.
He eagerly read it till he could relate
I didn’t laugh at the Lorax, ‘You sad little guy!
You never can tell what some people buy.’

“The Lorax said nothing. Just gave me a glance…
Just gave me a very bad, bad backward glance…
As he frittered himself by the crass of his stance.
And I’ll never forget the grim way he defaced
the story that I loved and the way that it graced,
through its use of a downed log, without being displaced.
And all that the Lorax left here in this mess
Was a large pile of books, with one word…
‘USELESS.’
Whatever that meant, I could hazard a guess.”

Doug Young is an award-winning film critic for The Colorado Statesman. He is a senior environmental advisor in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s administration.