The Lorax (2012)


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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Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009)


You Got in a Shoe Fight

Trying to get back into my review recommendations, I went to Facebook for requests and, of course, the first one back was a big fuck you to ole Robert. Let no man or woman ever say that Robert Bicket is not a brave man, for I have watched Hannah Montana: The Movie. I will assume that it need not be said that I went into this movie with only the vaguest of ideas on who Miley Cyrus was, and even less of an idea about what the story and background of Hannah Montana was, but I still did it, and now you will read about it. Hannah Montana: The Movie was written by Dan Berendsen, directed by Peter Chelsom, and stars Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, Emily Osment, Lucas Till, Vanessa Williams, Margo Martindale, Peter Gunn, Melora Hardin, Barry Bostwick, and Taylor Swift and Tyra Banks in cameo.

I will spoil the whole premise of Hannah Montana for you immediately, just to get it out of the way. Hannah Montana … is Miley Cyrus. Or Mily Stewart. She keeps both identities so she can be famous and sing, but still have her private time. A journalist named Oswald Granger (Peter Gunn) is after her to find out what her big secret is, unaware of the fact that I just told the whole world. Her father, Robby Ray Stewart (Billy Ray Cyrus), does not like how much she’s ignoring Miley Stewart’s life in favor of Hannah Montana’s, so he hijacks her back to Tennessee to go to her grandmother’s, Ruby’s (Margo Martindale), birthday party. Here, Robby starts getting a romance going with Lorelai (Melora Hardin), and Miley crushes on Travis Brody (Lucas Till). Hannah also gets caught up in an attempt to keep a big mall from being built in Crowley Corners. Can Hannah Montana and Miley Stewart coexist, or must one of them die?!

Admittedly (and expectedly), I went in to this expecting this to be a very achy breaky movie. I was surprised – as all of you will probably be – to find out that this isn’t that bad of a movie. The important distinction to this is that I recognize the difference between a bad movie and a movie that was just not meant for me. This is a movie intended for younger folk of a more female variety. But I didn’t find it painful as I had expected. I found the comedy mostly lost on me because, as I have discussed in other reviews, I’m not usually one to be that amused by slapstick comedy, and the greater majority of the “comedy” in this movie was balls hitting Miley in the face. Well, one was a coconut. Other attempts at comedy made me yell “UH DERP” out loud because they were obvious or stupid. Anyone that knows me does not have to try that hard to realize that I would (and did) actually yell that. The story itself seemed to target a good message that I feel like they lost completely at the very end. It seems to be about being yourself and fame isn’t everything, but then at the end, when Hannah reveals herself to be Miley in front of a crowd, they all tell her they’ll keep it secret and she should be Hannah again. It’s like “We don’t like this ‘real’ person! We want the fake we’re used to!” This movie could also be considered a bit of a musical, but I didn’t find it that annoying because they made sense to the scene and weren’t just thrown in because people in real life break into song to express their feelings. The only one that bothered me was the one when Miley pisses off her friend by showing up to her birthday as Hannah (because she didn’t have anywhere to change) and steals the show from the friend. But if you didn’t want your friend to perform at your birthday, you probably shouldn’t have had a stage prepared with musicians standing around waiting for someone to decide they wanted to sing. Also, this girl acted like she would never forgive Miley for this and, though we obviously expect this not to last, you would at least expect Miley to have to do something to fix it and not just have it be forgotten about by the time the friend was needed again. I was also originally going to complain about the fact that people couldn’t figure out that Miley Stewart was Hannah Montana when all she did was put on a blonde wig, but then I realized that I give Superman a pass with a measly pair of glasses so I had to give it a pass. There was also a part where the guy that wanted to build the mall said that the only thing that could raise enough money was if the Beatles were to show up and this leads to them getting Hannah Montana. I may be wrong in this, but does this mean that they think Hannah Montana is as big as the Beatles? That’s almost as bad as saying you’re bigger than Jesus. …Oh wait…

Here’s another big surprise for you: Miley Cyrus actually performs fairly well in this movie. Most of the times she comes off as really innocent, fairly charming, and quasi-adorable. There was even one point when things were turning sour with her man friend that she broke into tears and I kind of felt horrible for her because she pulled it off so well. Whoda thunk she could act a little bit? I wasn’t too interested in Lucas Till’s performance in the movie, but I spent a lot of time wondering about him. I watched every time he was on wondering where I had seen this guy when it occurred to me: Havoc. He was Havoc in X-Men: First Class! …That is all I have to say about him. On a similar note, Malora Hardin is in this movie, a woman I know as Michael Scott’s love interest from the American version of the Office. And the grandmother, Margo Martindale, I recognized from Walk Hard. And they thought the wrong kid died THEN. Tyra Banks and Taylor Swift show up briefly in cameos in this movie as well. Tyra’s appearance held no interest for me, both because of her and because the scene wasn’t interesting. Taylor Swift was fine though. She’s got a purdy voice. Her scene, however, was cut short by Kanye West. Beyonce’s scene was way better. …That joke was too easy and I apologize. You expect more from me. I should really try to deliver.

So that’s it. I can’t say I hated this movie as I expected I would. I can’t say that I enjoyed it, but it also wasn’t meant for me. The people it WAS meant for both will, and already have, enjoyed this movie. Everyone else might not hate it that much. It’s vaguely cute, but not very funny. Her music isn’t good, but isn’t horrible. The performances are fine but only really impress in one scene when Miley cries it up. Hannah Montana: The Movie gets “So you’re saying I can never be Hannah again?” out of “In my defense, I totally saw those shoes first.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!