Michael Polgar, PhD
First, with a historical tall tale worthy of Monty Python, The Pirates surf the silly seas thanks to British Claymation creators at Aardman entertainment (makers of Wallace and Grommit classics and Chicken Run).
The Victorian-era pirate crew, led by the likable and modest hero 'Pirate Captain; sadly rules Britannia's waves with a whimper and not a bang. These eager and goofy pirates are perennial non-winners in the world of plunderers, including the 'Pirate of the Year' reality show, with little or no gold or booty until they crash the voyage of the Beagle and run into (literally) none other than Charles Darwin.
With the scientist on their team, they discover the Captain's bird is a dodo and not a parrot, thus leading them to dress as girl scouts and enter a science contest in London. They soon win gold aplenty from Queen Victoria and the Royal Academy.
Having fun yet?
The big winds keep blowing the plot across the seas, until the pirates discover the Queen is part of a nefarious inner circle of exotic carnivores, leading to a final show down involving more gooey blunders than an stadium full of quick-sand.
Good triumphs of course, but not before the pirates win their 'aarg'uments and regain their pride.
Back on land, 'The Lorax' is colorfully animated and lyrically arranged.
The animated film version of the classic children's text by Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) is voiced by Danny DeVito, with help from Zac Efron, Betty White, Taylor Swift, Ed Helms, and other musical charms and talents.
We learn how, long ago, an eager young entrepreneur made his all-too-indelible mark with help of our natural world, knitting and sell ing elegant and fibrous tree- tufts.
Tragically, he then be comes a bad boy business man, selling out his animal buddies and his ethics for a brief bubble of economic success, deforesting the planet and losing his fortune in short order.
Seuss' sustainability tale is told from the perspective of a post modern and plastic time when a Napoleonesque villain (DeVito) sells bottled air to a population trapped in a gated, artificial, and increasingly fake city.
Boy (Effron) meets girl (Swift), grandma (White) b.elps boy court girl by saving and sprouting the last tree seedling ever, while the million'air' tycoon grows irritated and sends goon squad after boy.
All this leads to a showdown punctuated by a video-game-esque chase scene somewhat like the finale of another sustainability epic for youth, "Wall-E."
Thanks to our hero and his love-induced care for the planet, the Lorax's grim dystopia is finally over.
Boy on bike conquers bad new world order, society is released from its naive commercial artifice, a tree is planted, and Seussian ecosystems are again free to grow up.