‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’ Movie Review
There is no debating the lore surrounding Dr. Seuss’ literary works. The children’s book extraordinaire has become an icon for more than just yesteryear’s children as he still flourishes today. It is nearly impossible to find a schoolroom that doesn’t don something with Seuss’ signature.
Although his work could never be diminished, Hollywood’s attempts to replicate it on screen have been mostly unsuccessful. With the exception of Horton Hears a Who!, the adapted films have been critical disasters. It’s been a shame to say the least.
Fortunately, The Lorax doesn’t fall in the same category as The Cat in the Hat. I think it even outscores How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but maybe comparing them isn’t the best idea anyways. The real point is: The Lorax isn’t a flop regardless of the obvious misfirings throughout the story.
In the scheme of his works, The Lorax (the book) has seen its share of controversy. With the environmental, anti-industry message, the controversy isn’t tough to find. Luckily, the film sidesteps it pretty successfully. With conservation and environmentalism as increasingly relevant topics today, the message is more accessible. Really, it’s something we should be teaching our children anyways. Let us not forget, this film is for children. Yes, it can (and should) be viewed by adults. However, it’s clearly directed at a younger audience. Again, there is nothing wrong with this.
As for story, The Lorax follows the adventures of Ted (Zac Efron), a 12-year-old boy trying to impress his love interest Audrey (Taylor Swift), in the present-day. Through his journeys to find an elusive “real tree,” he encounters a grumpily lonely man named the Once-ler (Ed Helms). Before he will reveal where to find real trees, the Once-ler shares his past experiences. He faults himself for the deforestation problems that created the highly artificial environment that is controlled by the greedy businessman Mr. O’Hare (Rob Riggle).
Although the title may suggest the Lorax (Danny DeVito) character plays a huge part in the film, the title character, a short, orange, moustached creature finds himself with little to do. As a main marketing device, it is surprising how little he plays into the story. Unfortunately, this is one of the disappointments to the movie. Even the main protagonist appeared to be Ted, but it’s the Once-ler’s story that matters the most. The emotional connection lies with him, and it’s tough to care about Ted’s love life since he’s so young. Also, Audrey’s character is largely underdeveloped.
From the Once-ler’s point-of-view, the movie becomes a lot more redemptive. However, since the story tried to balance a lot of different characters, themes, and ideas, no matter how you look at it, something is getting shortchanged. Without a sprawling runtime, there’s just simply no way to help every part of the story reach its full potential. This makes the depth seem a bit too skin-deep.
With a similar message and theme to other popular animated films, The Lorax is noticeably behind some of the better ones (primarily WALL-E). However, from a children’s standpoint, there is a lot to grab on to. There are vivid colors, good musical numbers, and positive morals. While it won’t be a film that they’ll likely remember for the rest of their lives, we can still hope they’re left understanding the importance of the environment.
As an older person, I’m happy enough with the animation and the lack of down-your-throat storytelling. I got the message almost immediately, but at least I wasn’t having it force fed. At times the film felt like it lacked heart, but I can look past it. The voice-cast was good, the story was cute, and I wasn’t bored. Child or adult, I would’ve liked this movie.