Film Review: Dr Seuss’ The Lorax
So you think a kids movie starring Zac Efron and Taylor Swift is going to be an overproduced, boring mess?
What kind of cynical, soulless bastard are you?
The correct kind, apparently.
TL;DR Muddled plot, zero character development and an embarrassingly obvious message. It’s pretty, but it’s useless. It’s the Blake Lively of animated movies. 2 out of 5 stars.
I really wanted to like this movie. Rio had a very simple story in the centre of it, but great visuals made it less forgettable. Megamind was bland and tired, but excellent voice acting made it cool. The Lorax is just lame.
The plot is split into 2 sections. The first is the framing device: Ted (Zac Efron) is a plucky young go-getter who wants to impress shallow love interest Audrey (TayTay) by getting her a tree. These are apparently extinct, and nobody in Ted’s plastic hometown of Thneedville cares about them. So he leaves town to visit the awkwardly named Once-ler (Ed Helms) to find out where he can get one. The Once-ler’s story takes up the bulk of the screen time, and he tells Ted about how his greed destroyed the forest and his relationship with The Lorax (Danny Devitto). Also, horrifying dystopia.
The problem mainly rests with the pacing. The Once-ler’s tale is much more relevant and meaningful than Ted’s attempts to fuck Audrey, but Ted keeps popping in to remind us that “no, I’m the main character.” Unless you’re shirtless, Zac, nobody cares. Go away.
The Once-ler is also a bit of a humongous fuckwit. He’s like “I promise not to destroy the forest. Oh, but that would make me more money? Well, better wreck the earth forever.” Then he feels, like, TOTALLY bad about it to the max, girlfriend. Yet he doesn’t do anything to fix it for a few decades until Ted comes along. What a useless basket of fapkins.
However, the visuals are stunning. Like, amazingly stunning. Shits all over Rio. This is easily the most beautiful animated movie I’ve ever seen.
There’s also this weird, dark side to Thneedville that, although distracting from the real message of the movie, worked very well. Creepy.
Why I hate this movie:
The only character who gets any development is the Once-ler, and his turn to the dark side is so flippant that it’s a joke. Ted, Audrey and The Lorax have no arc or anything. Ted is just the designated hero, Audrey is motivation, and The Lorax is the comic relief. Nothing.
The worst example of this goes to O’hare, the evil air tycoon. He gets one “blink-and-miss-it” scene in the Once-ler’s story, and then BAM, most evil guy ever. And because Ted’s story is given more weight than the Once-ler’s he turns into a primary antagonist with no back story and very shallow motivation.
There are musical numbers pretty regularly, yet Taylor Swift doesn’t get to be in any of them. Missed opportunity, much?
There’s a lot of “wtf” going on, especially surrounding the Once-ler. I know that’s par for the course for Seuss, but it was very distracting.
The Lorax is terrible at his job. He just stands by and lets the Once-ler annihilate the trees. His only contribution being to guilt him, which takes about 50 years to work. Time for a new guardian of the forest.
The Once-ler’s invention, the Thneed, is a fucking piece of shit. Nobody would buy that, let alone wreck the world for them. Suspension of disbelief failure.
Yeah, the environmental message is beat home with a fucking sledge hammer. We get it. Killing trees is bad. Also, why did the Once-ler wait so long to plant that seed? We see trees regrowing right outside his house at the end. So he could have done it himself whenever? Lazy.
The anti-corporate message gets choked back by the environmental one, but it’s there. I don’t think kids will understand it at all, and it doesn’t fit with the rest of the story. It’s almost like they just wanted to make some jokes about selling air and it ballooned (ah ha! Get it, because balloons are filled with air?) into a very bizarre and unnecessary layer.
And do the people of Thneedville really not know what’s going on outside? What about people who move there? Are they trapped (Ted’s attempts at leaving are eventually stopped by O’hare)? What?
Reasons to watch:
Dem trees. So fluffy.
The animations are perfect. The colours are to die for. Think Rio but everything is fluff-tastic. Even the little bears are rockin’ some awesome CGI fur.
The musical numbers are generally very well done. The opening one in Thneedville sets the scene (and the dark undertones) nicely. Special mention goes to the Once-ler’s How Bad Can I Be song. Villain songs are always the best.
Also, am I the only one who thought the Once-ler was a sexy beast? Searching /y/… Oh god, 4chan.
The ad proposal for O’hare’s bottled air is a pretty spot on parody of beer ads. Political!
The Once-ler gets knocked unconscious during a prank by The Lorax and the woodland critters. To wake him up, The Lorax rubs 2 bear cubs together and uses them as a static electricity defibrillator. Cute and practical.
Best line is the one you already know: “That’s a woman?”
And it’s good to see Danny Devitto doing something other than terrorising us with threats of a Twins sequel. Please don’t let that happen.
It looks great. It really does. But there’s nothing special here. Fuck, it’s hard to find anything that’s actually cohesive with the rest of the movie. It’s not offensively bad, but if you want to waste your time with an animated movie, this isn’t the one. 2 out of 5 stars.