The Failings of Live Action Dr. Seuss Film Adaptations

Remember when the Cat in the Hat featured Paris Hilton? Do you recall the sexual innuendos in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas? I don’t. However the live-action movies state otherwise. Despite pandering to an adult audience, these movies did poorly with both the critics and the audience. Are the gimmicks stated previously the only reason these movies failed? Could it be that Seuss books just can’t be turned into live-action movies? Or is there a deeper reason behind it?

  • The problem with the Seuss movies is that Hollywood does not know how to adapted 20 paged books into full length movies. If the books are too hard to stretch out into a movie, then simply just don't adapted it. The books are simply not made to be movies because of how strait forward,yet brilliant the books are. Trying to bring pulp culture into Seuss's creative and nonsensical world simply does not mix. I know I cringed when The Lorax had a Donkey Kong reference. In this case, if it isn't broke, don't fix it. – Aaron Hatch 7 years ago
  • I think that the failings of these movies is that they were, intrinsically, and consciously made to be "of" the time they were produced, whereas the books seemed to be timeless. I do not think a successful live-action adaptation of a Seuss story is impossible, but I think if it were to be done by mainstream Hollywood, they would not risk greenlighting it without these popular cultures or some sort of drawcard like Zac Efron. As aforementioned, a live-action or animated film is probably not necessary, especially, as I think his wife has vowed to reject all live-action adaptations because of The Cat in the Hat. Perhaps, it may be better to speak how other stories could be animated for widespread release. As far as I understand, at least Horton Hears a Who was pretty successful, both commercially and critically. I have heard that The Lorax is lacking, but, still, could be an interesting topic. – Matthew Sims 7 years ago
  • Perhaps a new suggestion should be given. Instead of making these books into films, make them shorts, maybe a TV series. Animated for bonus points. A good point is that live action does not mix with Dr. Seuss. If it must be adapted, it must be animated. I remember watching an animated Cat in the Hat when I was young (so many cats, wow) so I know it works. It just has to be done right. – SpectreWriter 7 years ago
  • Dr. Seuss is my favorite author. I own twenty or thirty books, some from my own childhood (wonder what that original printing of Thidwick is worth??) and some I bought to read to my now-adult children. While I still love the art, the prose, and the lessons learned, I do not find full-length live action movies to be a workable medium in which to interpret this body of work. For one, the need to expand and flesh-out the text into screenplay length is counter to the simplicity of purpose of the original works. Seuss books are designed and written to help children learn to read, to entertain minds with short attention spans, and to teach life’s important lessons, not to entertain the masses for 100 minutes. Many of the books are quite obviously liberal politically and may not translate well to general audiences who don’t go to children’s movies for political commentary. Remember that the original art work for Yertle the Turtle depicted Yertle as Hitler, causing the publisher to refuse to print until the character was changed. No matter how a screen writer decides to change the message, someone will be offended. Dr. Seuss books are gentle and calm. Not well suited for car chases, gun violence, hand-to-hand combat scenes, or gratuitous sex, which means adaptations for the big screen will always flop. – JanJolly 6 years ago

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