Bottom Line: The Lorax is better than one would expect for a Seuss adaptation, if extremely unfaithful to its source.
“A tree falls in the direction it leans. Watch the way you lean.” –Danny DeVito as The Lorax
Directed by: Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda
Starring: Danny DeVito, Taylor Swift, Zac Efron
Entertaining Seuss adaptation about a boy named Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) who has taken an interest in trees. His generation has been taken over by a cruel man by the name of Mr. O’Hare (voiced by Rob Riggle), a wealthy and insensitive businessman who is selling fresh air to people individually because no trees are left to provide this necessity. Ted is told by his grandmother (voiced by Betty White) that there is a man outside of town named the Once-ler (voiced by Ed Helms), who had at one point told about how to find trees. Ted visits the Once-ler, and is told of the Lorax (voiced by Danny DeVito), a brightly colorful orange creature who “speaks for the trees” and is adamant of the environment. In this story, the Once-ler recalls his flaws in creating a business: distributing a universally convenient invention called a Thneed, which involves chopping down every Truffula tree. Eventually, he informs Ted of how to replenish the Truffula tree population, but meanwhile, O’Hare’s evil government is using hidden cameras to spy on Ted and interfere with his wholesome plan.
If you look at THE LORAX only as a book adaptation, it is absolutely awful. In Dr. Seuss’s picture book, none of these characters were present except the Once-ler and the Lorax, and the only storyline was what became the film’s “story within a story”. The book was also published at least fifty years ago, which brings the appearance of at least a thousand more discrepancies, all of which involve the way the characters speak. I’m sure the definition of the word “totally” had a completely different meaning in Dr. Seuss’s time than it does nowadays, but these filmmakers apparently felt no shame putting the word abundantly enough to spark some wonder as to how many years ago the book was published.
The most entertaining parts of THE LORAX were the scenes featuring the animal characters. Unless you count the Lorax himself, none of the animals actually speak (which I find quite unusual for an animated family film), but they grab more attention (even for the average four-year-old, who probably has the attention span of a shrimp) than any other character can hope to grab. The little bears are always making a display of their cute bulging eyes, and there is a trio of fish that pops onscreen when it is least expected and begin singing. Their best number is the theme from MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, but it’s quite likely the intended audience won’t get the joke. When anyone other than the fish break into joyful song, it’s another thing for sure. The songs sung by the town of Thneedville, or even by merely Ted himself, are childish and instantly forgettable. If these filmmakers wanted that many songs, they would have done better going for the gold and adapting Seussical.
If you decide to see THE LORAX, I advise you strongly not to see it in 2-D. Almost every shot of this film was meant for 3-D and 3-D only; this becomes obvious with the frequent use of slow motion, the enlarging of objects, the perspective shots, and (as usual for a 3-D film) objects flying directly at you. In 2-D, it would just look silly (not Dr. Seuss silly, but rather pointless silly). I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone, as it is quite uneven. There is a constant shift between jokes that only young kids would care to laugh at and jokes that only older kids and adults would actually understand. Thankfully, it is clear that this wasn’t simply spat out in time for Dr. Seuss’s birthday. This was carefully worked, entertaining, and overall, a good amount of fun.