A movie based on a Dr. Seuss book is not a new thing; still, it receives much attention from many generations – those who read it to their children before bedtime, those children to whom the stories were read, and a new generation of children, who have yet to experience the creative genius of Dr. Seuss. I will admit that I had high expectations going into the theater. The line was long, it was in 3D, the swarms of giddy children nattered on (and on, and on), and I sat in my seat, eagerly awaiting the moment I would be succumbed by adorableness.
Adorable? Maybe. Entertaining? Not really. Funny? Put it this way – if a theater full of five-year olds aren’t laughing, it’s probably not funny.
I remember the book The Lorax, and the movie seems to stay true to the main storyline. However, the additional plotline that is added to create a more film-friendly story goes nowhere, and really overshadows the originally thought provoking story, reducing it to the likes of a pushy public service announcement geared toward 3-10 year olds.
Ted (Zac Efron) is an idealistic 12-year old boy living in Thneed-ville, a town void of nature, in part due to the conniving Mr. O’Hare (Rob Riggle), whose bottled air company has monopolized the town’s need for real air. Armed with a moped and a romantic attraction to his nature-loving neighbor Audrey (Taylor Swift), Ted sets out to find a tree, in hopes that such will earn Audrey’s affection. Though there are many obstacles in his way, such as O’Hare, Ted makes his way outside Thneed-ville and stumbles onto the home of the reclusive Once-ler. The Once-ler (Ed Helms) reluctantly begins to share the story of the Trufulla trees and how he met the Lorax (Danny DeVito), guardian of the forest.
From this point in the movie, the focus shifts back and forth from the Once-ler’s recollections and the “present day,” as Ted battles O’Hare to prove to him that plastic trees and bottled air are not how they should be living.
What works in this movie are the very, very brief moments of cuteness, such as the singing trio of fish in the Once-ler’s recollection, which remind me far too much of the singing slugs from Dreamworks’ Flushed Away – still, they made me giggle.
Though I found that most of the characters introduced in the second plot-line were more or less there to promote the movie via well-recognized talent such as Taylor Swift, Zac Efron, Ed Helms, and the lovely Betty White, the voice talent was truly one of the better parts of this movie. The casting choice of Danny DeVito for the voice of the gruff, yet loveable Lorax was certainly one of the best creative choices for an animated movie, period. Forevermore I will read the book with DeVito’s voice in my head reciting the lines of the Lorax.
The rest of the movie didn’t really do much for me, and I found that by the audience’s reactions to what was happening on screen, they weren’t really feeling it either. From the lackluster 3D effects to the poorly pieced together plotlines, the entire premise just fell flat from what could have been a very entertaining and educational movie.
While I have absolutely no issue with an environmentalist message being portrayed to the younger generation that this movie is geared toward, I do have an issue with any institution shoving a message down my throat, and that is what this movie felt like to me. Rather than feeling entertained when leaving the theater, I felt depressed and annoyed. Is this really what children’s movies are amounting to? Had the humor been more present, or the second plotline developed in a way that wasn’t so pushy, I would have probably at least been able to say that this movie was good for a laugh or two. Instead, I feel more like I spent my Saturday morning waiting in a line to see a poorly though-out public service announcement.
As in most cases where a book preceded the movie – skip the movie. The book is more entertaining, and although it’s not in 3D, it is almost certainly guaranteed to be a better way to spend your Saturday morning.
The Lorax – 5.5/10