The Lorax

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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.

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Seuss adaptations will be Seuss adaptations. Overstretched and flawed, but otherwise enjoyable.

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.

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6 thoughts on “The Lorax

  1. I think you liked this a bit more than we did. I believe I called this film an abomination in our review. lol While I liked DeVito as the Lorax his screen time was pretty limited. I hated the lame song and dance numbers and the film seemed like an overdone mish mash of several films I had seen previously.

    My feelings may have been slanted, since I am a bit of a purist, and enjoy reading the book, and watching the original 1972 animated film as well. If it counts for anything my boy did not care for this version much at the theater either.

    • I can see where you wouldn’t have liked it. I didn’t like it either at first, but then there were a few things that saved it. I wanted an adaptation of the book though, which I did not get, so I was, in fact, a bit disappointed with this film.

    • I actually went to see The Lorax with a few friends. We agreed we would see it with each other because all three of us were in a production of Seussical, the short-lived Broadway musical based on all of Seuss’s works except for Happy Birthday to You and (ironically) The Lorax. I agree, though, you probably wouldn’t enjoy it. I jumbled around in the beginning, thinking of giving it a C-, and then a C. Then it got colorful and joyful.

      I am going to watch Rango soon, and I’m excited. 🙂 Pixar usually works out for me, with the exception of two films: Cars and The Incredibles. Everyone seems to love those two, but I absolutely hate them, and it seems like they’re still popular today for whatever reason. I gave them both one star on Flixster, and I skipped Cars 2 when it came out this summer. If I hated the original Cars when it got good reviews, there was no way I was going to see the sequel that got poor reviews. 🙂

      • That’s cool about you being in Seussical! Tell me more…

        Rango appealed to me a lot, mainly due to the western setting and the talent behind (Depp, Isla Fisher, Bill Nighy) but it ultimately disappointed me a little. Maybe it was the fact that I watched it with friends (which I rarely do) and we were goofing around and I wasn’t really paying attention. I’ll have to rewatch it soon to form a better opinion.

        I can understand you not liking Cars. I love the look of the film and I’ve mentioned before I’m addicted to buying Cars merchandise, but I don’t like the movie itself that much. It’s just OK. The sequel was pretty bad, so yeah, I don’t see a reason for you to watch it. What I don’t understand is your dislike for The Incredibles! haha I’ve only watched it once, and it was a long time ago, but I remember liking it very much.

    • I didn’t initially dislike The Incredibles that much. I didn’t see it in theaters, but I saw it almost immediately after it came to home video, and I loved it. Then I saw it again a few years later, and for whatever reason, I suddenly found it to be stupid. (I guess I could at least give it points for being original and inventive.) I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it by now, and I’m sure I’ve seen segments from time to time under certain conditions, but it just changes from being a freshly amazing movie, to a tiresomely annoying movie.

      As for Seussical, I didn’t have very much of a role, and it was probably hard to spot me out, but somehow I was onstage half the show. I played a Whoville citizen (the father of one or two kids, I can’t remember by now) and a cadet in the scene where JoJo is introduced to “General Genghis Khan Schmitz”. I found it funny yesterday when I was going to see The Lorax with my two Seussical friends, because all three of us were reciting our lyrics that we hadn’t needed to sing for a whole year, but had them memorized anyhow. (Not in the theater, but on the way there.) Have you seen Seussical? I wouldn’t say the music is anything of the quality of anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber (the guy who did Phantom of the Opera and Evita), but considering it’s all based on Dr. Seuss’s characters, it’s pretty great, in my opinion. Plus, it’s much better than the dance numbers in The Lorax. 😀

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