Dr Seuss’ The Lorax 3D * * * *
Cert U 86 mins
Danny DeVito was probably destined to become the title character of Dr Seuss’s 1971 story having read the story to his own children.
Success with this film, made by Universal Pictures (Despicable Me), might just have come at the right time for the 67-year-old who attended the UK premiere at Cineworld Broad Street this week.
An accomplished director and producer, we haven’t seen the five foot tall star on the silver screen in anything of note for a decade.
But The Lorax suits him and is a reminder of what a colossal talent he is – feisty, vocal and funny, a genuine New Jersey talent for whom any form of acting is made to look effortless.
Having been released in the US in March and in other countries too, The Lorax is already the highest grossing movie of DeVito’s career.
Even for children who don’t know who he is, the downside is that DeVito is not in it nearly enough as the titular character and no amount of 3D gimmickry can compensate for that.
Zac Efron is there for the younger demographic audience as 12-year-old Ted and if he’s to win the heart of Audrey (Taylor Swift), he must learn about The Lorax, a creature which tries to protect his world.
But there’s too much of The Once-ler (Ed Helms), the character which has been chopping all the trees down (but who might well learn the error of his ways).
Overall, the film is irresistibly colourful and its timeless environmental message is useful to for children to be aware of in a general sense before they are hit by more politically convenient ‘global warming’ arguments in later life.
Even they will understand that even if trees were of no value to our existence, the world would be a far less attractive place without them.
Of the four Zeuss films made to date, I’d put this second to Horton Hears a Who! (2008) and ahead of The Grinch (2001) and the appalling The Cat in the Hat (2003) which could have taken Zeuss out of cinemas for ever.
In that context, it’s good to have him back.
The action in this French film is set in the 1960s, so at times it’s like a golden, sepia-toned version of Coronation Street meets Vera Drake – with costumes and production of a standard worthy of nominations at the 2012 César.
You could also think of it as an upside down Upstairs, Downstairs film crossed with French employee-related movies like Potiche (2010), which starred Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu.
The Women on the 6th Floor * * * *
Cert 12A, 106 mins
The action begins with middle-aged stockbroker Jean-Louis Joubert (Fabrice Luchini) hiring a new Spanish help, Maria, to replace the old one of 25 years.
What a difference a maid makes. She cooks his eggs to perfection and instantly demands better money than what’s on the table.
Meanwhile, Mdme Joubert (Sandrine Kiberlain) tells Maria: “We don’t distrust men enough.”
When her husband gets to know Maria’s (Natalia Verbeke) servant ilk on the sixth floor of the building he owns, he notices how they might actually have more life in their lives than he does in his.
What next for the future of his marriage?
Women on the 6th Floor is beautifully filmed, well acted and a topical reminder that success isn’t about how much money you have, but how you live – and boil your eggs.
At the MAC, Cannon Hill Park from Friday until Tuesday.
The Giants * * *
Cert 15, 83 mins
Like The Kid With a Bike (2011) earlier this year, this is a tremendously-promising French-language Belgian film about growing up the hard way.
Early to mid-teen brothers Seth and Zak are waiting for their mother to return to parenting when they decide to rent out their late grandfather’s house to a lowlife.
The film begins brilliantly setting up character, tension and rural landscape.
The second half doesn’t live up to expectations and I wasn’t overly keen on the relatively laboured, open ending, but it’s always ahead of its more urban, gangster-driven British equivalents.
Think of My Summer of Love (2004) crossed with Winter’s Bone (2010) and you’ll find it at the MAC from Monday to Thursday.