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Picks and Pans Main: Movies

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Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

Zac Efron, Danny DeVito, Taylor Swift | PG |


Thneed-Ville isn’t so different from where we live, except that the bushes are inflatable and the air and water are bottled. The place is so vacuum-sealed for faux freshness that when a kid like Ted (Efron) wants to find a real, live tree for crush Audrey (Swift), he has to take a circuitous route out of town to find the Once-ler (Ed Helms), a man who knows what became of the trees.

Cue the familiar tale of the Once-ler felling the trees to fuel his business, breaking the heart of the Lorax (DeVito), the keeper of the forest. It’s a sad account, but the movie tells it with such Seussian visual panache, jaunty songs and humor (Betty White is fun as Ted’s grandma/coconspirator) that the heaviness sneaks up on you. But as this is one of the Doc’s more political stories (it could even be called anti-capitalist), you may want to talk to kids about the issues it raises. After all, the Lorax speaks for the trees, but he may not necessarily speak for you.

Being Flynn

Robert De Niro, Paul Dano, Julianne Moore | R |


Jonathan Flynn (De Niro) is hard to like. The fact that he introduces himself as one of America’s three great writers (with J.D. Salinger and Mark Twain) tells you how delusional he is. His son Nick (Dano) isn’t much better off. Adrift and missing his late mother (Moore), Nick works at a homeless shelter where Jonathan is a “guest”-the only way father and son connect. Based on the real Nick Flynn’s memoir, Being Flynn appeals to our curiosity, showing us the pair in free fall, then daring us to care whether they’ll bounce. The story is uneven, but the full-bodied performances slowly, patiently draw us in-yes, even against our will.