Film Review: The Lorax
● By Justin Buettner
Based on the classic children’s book by the same name The Lorax is about a boy named Ted who lives in Thneedville. Thneedville does not have trees and is run by business tycoon Mr. O’Hare who sells bottled fresh air to the citizens. Audrey, Ted’s love interest, says she will marry the boy who can bring her a real live tree, which leads Ted to leave the city in search of one. With the advice from his grandmother, Ted finds the Once-ler, who is known to be the only one left that knows how to find a living tree.
Admittedly I am a huge Dr. Seuss fan. I can recite more than one of his books by heart and it wouldn’t be a lie to write that I read one or more of his books a week (I am a father of two young girls). As wonderful as the books are they were not written to be made into feature films and as a result nearly every attempt by Hollywood to adapt one of his children’s books have failed. The Lorax is no exception.
Among the computer animated Seuss adaptations, The Lorax is the best of the bunch. There are certainly moments that work splendidly. The casting decisions were very impressive -- I thought Danny DeVito as the voice of the Lorax was perfect. Ed Helms as the Once-ler proved to be a great decision too. Visually The Lorax is spot on. Seeing the Tuffula Trees and the many inhabitants of this world come to life is magic. However everything outside the concept of the original book is cookie cutter and uninspired.
The movie tries to follow a formula that is all too familiar among kids movies. It crams as many side characters and bad musical numbers it can into the film to entertain the little ones. For the most part it works. The children will be thoroughly entertained by The Lorax, especially by the bright imaginative look inspired by the original stories artwork. For adults, or even teenagers, this movie will not work and that’s a shame. I don’t understand why film companies continue to “dumb” down good material when films like Up and Wall-E have proven that kids' movies don’t have to be dumb movies.
The musical numbers are just not good. John Powell is a much better composer than songwriter and as a result there is absolutely nothing that will make you toe-tap to. The sad part is the musical numbers were absolutely unneeded. If they were going to have musical numbers they would have been making a better decision to tap the talents of Taylor Swift who voices the character Audrey in the movie.
The screenplay was written by Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda who both wrote Despicable Me, Hop, and Horton Hears a Who, none of which I would consider good movies, so it stands to reason that I had major problems with their adaption of this film. What the writers did was push the Lorax to a backstory and instead focused the movie around Ted and Audrey, characters that were not even in the original book. The new story, although not terrible, is not great either. So instead of trusting the genius of Dr. Seuss and focusing the movie of the simple message the book provided, the movie veers away from the book and crams as many clichés as possible into the movie. Why not revolve the story around the animal brown bar-ba-loots and humming fishes? Keep the movie distinctly Seuss and the end results would have been much better.
Once again the audience is treated to a modernization of a Seuss classic, which makes it feel not quite so special. The great thing about the movie is that it does introduce the book to a whole new generation of children. The children will certainly like the movie, but they deserved better as do everyone else that watches the movie.
Films like The Lorax : Horton Hears a Who, The Grinch, The Cat in the Hat
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.