Synopsis: A 12-year-old boy searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.
Stars: Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Betty White, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift
Director: Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda
Running Length: 86 minutes
Random Crew Highlight: Brett/Chet – Danny Cooksey (I read this name in the credits and could not place him…thanks to IMDB I found out. He played Sam in Diff’rent Strokes!!!)
TMMM Score: (7.5/10)
Review: When all is said and done…I prefer my Dr. Seuss on the page rather than on screen. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot to like about this adaptation of The Lorax but I’ve just find that the magic loses a bit in translation. As far as adaptations go, this continues the trend of animation being the right medium to bring the Seuss world to life. After the disasters that were The Cat in the Hat and How The Grinch Stole Christmas, the widow of Dr. Seuss blessedly put the kibosh on any more live-action versions of his classic tales. That leaves the animation departments to give it a go so with the critical and audience success of Horton Hears a Who it was inevitable that another Seuss book would come to life.
The Lorax has always been a Greenpeace add masquerading as a children’s story and that message comes through loud and clear without any pretense. Sure, most children won’t get the overall theme of destroying our natural resources but they might have some questions for you after about keeping it green. These “important lessons” swirled around in a fantastical world is nothing new – just look to the Brothers Grimm fairy tales or even Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.
What I enjoyed most about The Lorax was how vibrant and alive it felt. Apart from the 3D (which is used quite well) I have the feeling the film would still jump off the screen in the traditional 2D format. The colors used feel healthy and strong and complement what is happening in the story. Cool tones and dark hues are detailed when our young hero Ted ventures outside the walls of Thneed-Ville to see the mysterious Once-ler and learn about where all the Truffla trees went.
The town of Thneed-Ville is really a wonder to see. It’s a town mostly made of plastic with next to nothing in the line of organic life. Trees are rubber and run on electricity, flowers and bushes spring to inflatable life in the mornings, the ground is a solid surface be it cement or grass. People go about their daily lives much like we do…the only difference is the lack of any living landscapes. It’s only through flashbacks do we see what life was like when there were trees and animals and coming back to the present the contrast is profound.
Spattered about the movie are a handful of tunes that, while not totally memorable, seem to fit very nicely into the proceedings. I especially liked the opening number and the finale that sums everything up…as most good finales should. The best part about this were the singing voices coming out of the townspeople that were in stark opposition to what they looked like. It gave everything a sense of unexpectedness that was maintained throughout.
Big points go to the cast of voices that never overstay their welcome. DeVito makes for a nice Lorax, the mythical and mysterious creature that is a ‘friend to the trees’, Helms gives the Once-ler two distinct voices for his two distinct moments in time. Efron (as our hero) and Swift (as his puppy-love interest) are both unobtrusive…though one does wonder if they couldn’t have gotten a younger leading man. Neither Efron nor Swift sing in this one…which was a gamble as at least Swift could have had a song inserted in. White doesn’t have much to do but she sure has the sassy granny part down cold. I’m sure she laughed all the way to the animal shelter with her paycheck on this one.
I’ve read that this film is getting a bum rap because it’s so environmentally friendly and message driven…which totally mystifies me. Why shouldn’t a film that could potentially be seen by millions of children and their parents have something to say about the world we live in? Dr. Seuss wrote The Lorax in 1971 and the point he was making is still important today. Anyway, the movie is entertaining on top of all this so even though I best enjoy reading Dr. Seuss I wasn’t unhappy to have his work showcased in this manner.
PS…as I mentioned in a post earlier this week, the new Universal logo was unveiled before this movie…and it looks great in 3D.