Message ringbarked by preachy plot
Subtlety is lost in Dr Seuss’ The Lorax, writes Caris Bizzaca
R Seuss has had its fair share of hits and misses in Hollywood. There was the critically panned How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey, followed by the critically massacred Cat in the Hat.
Animation seems to have fared a bit better, with 2008’s Dr Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! and now Dr Seuss’ The Lorax – a bright, candy coloured, song-filled flick for the kids, with a environmental message that’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer.
Based on the book from 1971, it begins with the catchy opening tune about Thneedville, a town made out of plastic, where manufactured trees run on batteries.
A short, nasty man named O’hare basically runs the city, because he sells fresh bottled air, which is in high demand thanks to the lack of trees.
But O’hare’s business faces some danger, when 12-year-old Ted (voiced by Zac Afron) sets out to find a tree for the girl he has a crush on (voiced by Taylor Swift).
In the bleak grey area outside the bright town, Ted finds Once-ler ( The Hangover’s Ed Helms), a creepy old man who may hold the answers to finding a tree.
So how does the Lorax fit into all of this? Well the Lorax is a short, orange fuzzball voiced by Danny Devito, who’s a guardian of the trees and apparently has magic powers.
Who knows what they are though, for whenever he’s asked to use them, he replies ‘‘that’s not how it works’’. And so he just watches helplessly as a paradise with hundreds of fluffy trees is turned into a wasteland.
Directed by Chris Renaud ( Despicable Me), there’s plenty going on to distract children, with cute bears, singing fish, jokes about marshmallows and the craziness of Dr Seuss’ world crammed into every frame with amazing detail.
Children in our 3D screening seemed to love it right from the opening, when the Lorax throws a piece of paper and it appears to flutter over the audience, causing several kids to gasp.
Grammy, voiced by Betty White, is a hoot, but parents might find it all a bit preachy, with its barrage of environmental messages.
In one scene, a businessman storms about happily lopping down trees, forcing furry animals to flee, as he rakes in the cash singing, ‘‘How bad can I be? I’m just building the economy’’.
Dr Seuss’ The Lorax is not the first eco-friendly animated movie, it won’t be the last, and though it’s colourful and bubbly, it’s unfortunately not the best.
Parents who loved the original book will probably be on the fence although their children will enjoy it.
Danny Devito lends his voice to the orange fuzzball star of