The Lorax. I had no idea going in what this movie was about. And after watching it, I’m conflicted on how I feel.
On one hand, it was a heavy-handed and predictable morality story in which humans must come to grips with their destructive nature and embrace the environment. From the opening lines of dialogue, you can guess exactly how it will end.
On the other hand, it’s not a bad thing to have films like this, that are out to deliver a message. It’s a fun and mostly enjoyable tale, though you know the whole time through that the tree-cutting antagonist will see the error of his ways.
What’s the gist? We follow the story of a young boy who lives in a world without trees (real trees anyways). The girl of his dreams wants one thing in the world (a live tree) and so the boy goes off in search of how to find one. There are pretty stereotypical roles involved here, such as the greedy business tycoon, eccentric grandmother, and “can’t do a thing wrong” romantic leading lady. The boy eventually learns the tale of how the trees disappeared, creating two stories that hop back and forth between the present and the past.
The film looks good, but there have been plenty of CGI films based on Suess that it must be second-nature now.
The leading characters are relatively flat and unengaging, but the movie is saved by the menagerie of wildlife that occupy these crazy worlds. Bears, fish, birds, and even a donkey. There are recognizeable bears that have big puppydog eyes and there’s a trio of goldfish that sing popular songs (which reminded me of the three mice in Babe). These animals and their actions in the background often steal the show. And it’s a clever move when we become so in love with these little guys, that it’s heartbreaking when we watch their homes get demolished basically. Smart move Hollywood.
What doesn’t work?
I’m having a hard time getting past how predictable and somewhat unoriginal the script was. I know they’re working off old source material, so they can’t be too innovative, but it still really detracted in my ability to get involved with the movie, knowing exactly what would end up happening.
I also wasn’t too in love with some of the voice acting. Case in point: Ed Helms. On The Office, they made it a reoccuring joke that he was in an a capella group and so he’s always singing and making “bop de boop” sounds and all that. In The Hangover, they shoe-horned in a song for him to sing. And now, he’s doing the same thing. In the original book, did he have a guitar and sing? Maybe. But using Ed Helms just seemed like doing the same old thing that he always does and only reminded me that it was Ed Helms not his character that I was listening to.
This movie also tried way too hard to be funny. Some of it works. There’s a bear that’s out of shape and always winded. I laughed. But there were so many moments where my notion of reality (in their world) was shattered by what the characters were doing. It wasn’t consistent and the jokes were often over the top and incredibly forced. I remember feeling this way a lot towards the beginning of the movie, with the human characters (like the eccentric grandma). Without setting the tone, these jokes were intrusive and brought me out of the experience.
Again, I’m conflicted. I think it’s a story that should be told but was this the best way to tell it? It’s sometimes funny, sometimes forced, and overall predictable. The non-speaking characters were somehow more engaging than the human characters. The effects were okay but would pale in comparison to the earlier Suess outing Horton Hears a Who. Probably a great choice for kids, but adults will see right through it… and may not like what they see.