by Jay Bobbin
(NOTICE: Ratings for each film begin with a ‘star’ rating - one star meaning ‘poor,’ four meaning ‘excellent’ - followed by the Motion Picture Association of America rating, and then by a family-viewing guide, the key for which appears below.)
“DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX”: The long-popular children’s story comes to animated life enjoyably, with Danny DeVito supplying the voice of the ecology-minded title character, who warns that all trees will be replaced with synthetic facsimiles if something isn’t done. His story inspires a young man (voice of Zac Efron) who’s trying to win the favor of someone he admires (voice of Taylor Swift). Ed Helms (“The Office”) and Betty White also are in the voice cast. DVD extras: “making-of” documentary; audio commentary by directors Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda; deleted scene; three “mini-movies”; sing-along. *** (PG: P) (Also on Blu-ray; starts Aug, 21 on Movies on Demand)
“GRIMM: SEASON ONE”: Famous fairy tales get darker twists in the contemporary update by this clever NBC series, about to launch Season 2 under executive producers including former “Will & Grace” co-star Sean Hayes. David Giuntoli plays a police detective who discovers he hails from a family charged with protecting the populace from evil — and evil beings — devised by the Brothers Grimm. The regular cast also includes Silas Weir Mitchell, Bitsie Tulloch and Russell Hornsby. DVD extras: two “making-of” documentaries; deleted scenes; outtakes; interactive guide. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
“BEL AMI”: Playing a vampire remains his biggest calling card, but Robert Pattinson makes another big move to expand his screen image in this adaptation of a classic Guy de Maupassant story. The actor plays a soldier who decides to change his circumstances for the better in late 1700s Paris, working his wiles on powerful men’s mistresses. Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Ricci play several targets of his emotional scheming. Colm Meaney and Anthony Higgins also are in the cast. DVD extra: “making-of” documentary. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray)
“WILLIAM & CATHERINE: A ROYAL ROMANCE”: Memories of a certain royal wedding still were fresh a year ago when Hallmark Channel showed this TV movie about the courtship of Prince William (played by Dan Amboyer) and Kate Middleton (Alice St. Clair, whose father actually was in the employ of England’s royal family). Jane Alexander plays Queen Elizabeth II in a cast that also includes Victor Garber (“Alias”) and Jean Smart as Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. *** (Not rated: AS)
FAMILY-VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.