Unless Someone Like You Cares a Whole Lot, Nothing is Going to Get Better. It’s not.
Today’s movie came as a request from my friend Forty, but I’m not entirely sure why. My best guess is that he’s a dad and that means that I, as his single review-writing friend, should be forced to watch the same crap that he must at the behest of his daughter. So I guess that means today’s review came as a request from Eden. Either way, it was a request, and one easy enough to comply with as my roommate Richurd had purchased this movie on Vudu some time ago, so it was ready for me whenever I got around to it. I also get to go into this review relatively clean because I have next to no memory of the Dr. Seuss book that this movie is based on. Something about trees, I think? Well, we’ll find out as I review The Lorax, based on a Dr. Seuss children’s book, written for the screen by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul, directed by Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda, and featuring the voices of Zac Efron, Ed Helms, Danny DeVito, Taylor Swift, Rob Riggle, Betty White, Jenny Slate, Nasim Pedrad, Stephen Tobolowsky, Elmarie Wendel, and Danny Cooksey.
Ted Wiggins (Zac Efron) lives in the town of Thneedville, a walled city so surrounded by the pollution of industry that they actually sell air in bottles to people, and everything in the city is artificial, including the plants. Ted has a crush on a girl named Audrey (Taylor Swift), who wants to see a real life tree. In order to impress her, he sets out to find a tree. Under the advice of his grandmother, Grammy Norma (Betty White), he tracks down the Once-ler (Ed Helms), who tells Ted how he is responsible for the deforestation because he broke his promise to The Lorax (Danny DeVito), who speaks for the trees because trees have no tongues of their own.
I can’t really say I was disappointed by The Lorax because I went into it with low expectations, but I didn’t think this was that good of a movie. It wasn’t bad; I just felt like I was wasting my time watching it. It wasn’t without a point, but the point it was trying to make was one that I found tedious and ham-fisted. I knew what the message of the movie was going to be before I started watching it, and it did not take long for me to get sick of being beat over the head with it. Yes, deforestation is bad. Yes, every business ever is bad. Nothing good has ever come from cutting down a tree. Even when they cut those trees down to make paper that could be used to print the words of Dr. Seuss. I’m sure it was all printed on recycled paper. It also wasn’t funny. It gained a couple of minor smirks out of me with a couple of cute and quirky comments, but towards the end it had devolved into, “It’s funny when old people do young things like snowboard, isn’t it?” …No, no it’s not.
The biggest issue I took with the movie was its musical numbers. I’ve complained before about musicals forcing their movie to be a musical with pointless and unnecessary musical interludes, but this movie goes even further with that. They give the Once-ler a guitar for no reason other than to make him be able to break into song out of nowhere. Some musicals can get by on this bullshit by having good songs, but the Lorax blew its load in the introduction of the film, as the credits still rolled, and then only gave us mediocre songs or worse.
The thing this movie does right is definitely the look. It captures the wackiness and imagination of Dr. Seuss in a beautiful and colorful CG world. I wouldn’t give much imagination credit to this movie though, since that all came from Seuss, but they captured it well. The settings were evocative and created the mood they wanted. The town was clean and fake, the wilderness before people messed it up was lush and colorful, and the same area after was dark and depressing. They also did a good job of making all the forest creatures overly adorable. The fish were kind of funny and the fat bear made for some easy “This bear likes to eat everything” jokes, but I think my favorite was the tiny duck-like creature that sat around with a dumb look on its face, randomly quacking.
The Lorax isn’t a bad movie. It’s just not a good one. It could get away with beating us over the head with its environmentalist message if it was funny or interesting, but it never really mustered that, try as it might. It also forced itself to be a musical for no good reason, forgetting of course to have some good songs. In its defense, it is a very pretty movie with lots of cute animals, so your kids will probably enjoy it. You, on the other hand, might find it tough to pay attention to, especially numerous times as kids tend to view things. I say skip it. The Lorax gets “You have been warned!” out of “Unless.”
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