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Movie Review: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

March 2, 2012

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax – A Universal Pictures’ Release

http://www.theloraxmovie.com

Release Date: March 2nd, 2012

Rated G

Running time: 86 minutes

Chris Renaud (dir.)

Kyle Balda (co-dir.)

Ken Daurio (screenplay)

Cinco Paul (screenplay)

Based on the book by Dr. Seuss

John Powell (music)

Danny DeVito as The Lorax (voice)

Ed Helms as The Once-ler (voice)

Zac Efron as Ted (voice)

Taylor Swift as Audrey (voice)

Betty White as Grammy Norma (voice)

Rob Riggle as Mr. O’Hare (voice)

Jenny Slate as Ted’s Mom (voice)

Nasim Pedrad as Once-ler’s Mom (voice)

©Universal Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

The Once-ler (Ed Helms) and The Lorax (Danny DeVito) are surrounded by Bar-ba-Loots in Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.

Our reviews below:

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Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Today, March 2nd, marks what would have been the 108th birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss.  And it also marks the release of The Lorax, the latest animated adaptation of one of his best and most classic books.  With some brilliantly done sequences and an important environmental message, this is an excellent animated film that those of any age can enjoy.

So named for the useless fashion accessory that destroyed the forest, the residents in Thneedville live in blissful ignorance of their past, surrounded by plastic trees and bottled air.  But when young teenager Ted (voice of Zac Efron) wants to impress the slightly older Audrey (Taylor Swift) with a real Truffula tree, he escapes the manufactured world to visit the mysterious Once-ler (Ed Helms).  Now a hermit who lives alone outside the walls of the town run by the sleazy Mr. O’Hare (Rob Riggle), the Once-ler was once a young opportunist who set out from his hillbilly family to find the perfect material for his Thneed.

Picking up where the book starts, we are told the story in flashbacks of what led to the destruction of the natural world.  When the Once-ler ended up in a forest filled with delightful creatures, he found the perfect material for his Thneed in the tufts of the wonderous Truffula trees.  But with the first tree that fell victim to his axe, he summoned the Lorax (Danny DeVito), a mystical creature who ascended from the skies to “speak for the trees.”  But humans don’t always see the bigger picture, and the Once-ler’s greed made him ignore the urgent warnings of the Lorax.

With environmental themes that were ahead of their time for 1971 and a rhyming story that managed to provide a reasoning for why we must change our ways, The Lorax is one of Dr. Seuss’ most profoundly brilliant books and a timeless masterpiece.  The proceeding 1972 short film was equally excellent, with wonderful music and a hauntingly melancholy tone throughout.  This big screen adaptation isn’t quite as perfect as either the book or original short, as a few of the scenes in Thneedville that have been added around the central story do feel a little too cartoony.  But the movie also features several breathtaking scenes and the important messages of the story still ring true loud and clear.

Everything that takes place in the forest is excellent, from the Once-ler’s heartbreaking destruction of the trees right through to the delightful comedy provided by the adorable Seussian animals.  The Bar-ba-Loots are of particular amusement, taken right from the book and recalling the Minions in Illumination Entertainment’s last film, the excellent Despicable Me.  The Greek chorus of golden Humming Fish is just priceless.  The musical numbers are fun and effective, with the excellent “How Bad Can I Be?” providing the soundtrack to one of the film’s best sequences.  The rousing final performance of “Let it Grow” really gets the point across, especially for younger audiences.

When it comes to adapting the books of Dr. Seuss for the big screen, Hollywood has been hit and miss.  Ron Howard’s 2000 take on How the Grinch Stole Christmas was a joyless mess that was all over the place in terms of tone, and the 2003 live action rendering of The Cat in the Hat was just heartless and offensive.  But the tides changed in 2008 with the wonderful and beautifully animated Horton Hear’s a Who!, which kept the tone of the original book with a thoughtful story beneath the delightful characters, and The Lorax continues the winning streak of animated adaptations.

This movie is at its most brilliant during the darker scenes, believably showing the environmental effects from the heartbreaking destruction of the forest, and paying wonderful tribute to the classic book.  With fun musical numbers and appealing characters, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is an excellent animated movie with a great environmental message, that those of all ages can enjoy.  In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better.  It’s not.”

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Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Review by Erin V.  

*** (out of 4)

Many years ago in 1971, Dr. Seuss wrote a story, saying what could be done, if we chopped down trees and let big business rule, how the world can be changed by one act of a fool.  When the Once-ler arrives in a land filled with trees, he is taken aback by the beauty he sees.  Where the Bar-ba-Loots, Humming Fish, and Swomee Swans play, he settles down and decides that here he should stay.  But the truffula trees have such fine feathered fluff, that he chops down just one to see what can be made of the stuff.  And thus summons the Lorax, who speaks for the trees, and speaks for the forest and all that it needs.

A year after the book, a short film was made for TV, and for adults, kids and teens, it is still a must see.  But adaption to a movie, feature length long, was destined one day as the story was strong.  Though some added humour gets in the way, the original message?  Intact it does stay.

Now where the film reaches brilliance is when it is dark, for the story at times has to be stark.  I also liked how the Once-ler they did portray, as just a regular guy, who was trying to make his way.  Now, the musical numbers were at first a bit strange, for I remember the original and the tone was a change.  My biggest qualm though was that with the potential the film holds, at times (in the town) it felt written for 5-year-olds.  If it was me, the script would have been tweaked, adding more in the past, not shying from the bleak.  A second act too short, a third act too long, could it have been better, or could I be wrong?  At times I was wishing (during my favourite parts), that the film had been different, but when that thinking starts, we have to be careful to weigh our thoughts fair, because overall, there’s a lot of good here.  Sure it could have been better – but most things could be – and it is still one that I’m glad I did see.

Positives now, are important to share, so I will leave you, with just a few here.  My favourite parts in The Lorax, I would have to definitely say, were the scenes with the Once-ler and forest friends back in the day.  In those scenes the animation was also done very well, helping to fit with the story they tell – plus there is also one thing moreable – Bar-ba-Loots and Humming Fish are adorable.  DeVito and Helms also do a great job with their voices, bringing life to their characters, and all of their choices.  I also liked how the movie overall ended, even though from the book it is slightly extended.  I guess what I’d say, is while it’s uneven a bit, the film is still worth the price of a ticket.

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Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Review by Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

Based on one of Dr. Seuss’ best works, The Lorax is a timeless environmental fable about greed and, ultimately, hope.  In this movie, Ted (Zac Efron), the nameless boy from the book, lives in a futuristic and artificial world called Thneedville.  He has a crush on a slightly older girl named Audrey (Taylor Swift), whose greatest wish is to see a real tree.  Ted wonders where he can get one, and his grandmother (Betty White) tells him to go to the Once-ler (Ed Helms), a mysterious figure who lives outside of town.  Once Ted manages to get past the security wall that surrounds Thneedville, he goes to the Once-ler’s hideout.  Here, the film takes on where the book begins.

The Once-ler turns out to be an ordinary guy, who came from a small town and saw a business opportunity in the cotton-like fibres of Truffula Trees.  But as soon as he cuts down a tree, a small, omnipotent furry being pops out of the stump.  He is the Lorax (Danny DeVito), who “speaks for the trees.”  He also speaks for the Humming Fish, the Swomee Swans and the brown Bar-ba-Loots, adorable little bears that rival the endearing Minions from Despicable Me.  The Once-ler must choose between greed and compassion, but corporate success blurs his sense of ethics.

The Lorax has always been one of my favourite books, and I felt the movie, for the most part, holds up to Dr. Seuss’ original.  While I think some of the moments in Thneedville could have been a bit darker, I did really appreciate The Truman Show type elements of the town.  The musical numbers also really work, with “How Bad Can I Be?” and “Let it Grow” being some of the best.  I also really like the visual look of the film.  The decision to show the Once-ler in the movie works really well.  Making him an average Joe adds a new element to the film, while keeping in line with Dr. Seuss’ vision.  The surreal architecture, the colourful landscapes and lovable creatures all add to the Dr. Seuss feel.

The Lorax pays a great tribute to Dr. Seuss, right down to the names of the teenaged heroes, Ted and Audrey.  Both children and adults will hopefully come away from this movie inspired to make the world a better place.

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Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Review by Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Dr. Seuss stories have always been favourites of mine.  His 1971  story, The Lorax, with its strong environmental message is more timely now than ever.  This thoroughly entertaining animated film adaptation will introduce a whole new generation of kids to the story and remind older kids and parents why they loved it in the first place.

The Lorax is a wonderful mix of brightly coloured animation, funny and adorable creatures, some really good musical sequences and just enough serious stuff to remind audiences that not only does the Lorax “speak for the trees,” we all do.  Younger kids are going to enjoy the furry, bear-like Bar-ba-Loots with their appetite for mini-marshmallows.  The Humming Fish, who at one point are humming the theme to Mission: Impossible, are also a delight.

The best moments in the film take place among the Truffula trees, before the Once-ler (voiced by Ed Helms) destroys the forest, ignoring the warnings of the wise furry yellow creature, the Lorax (Danny DeVito).  The action sequences where Thneedville resident Ted (Zac Efron), the girl he likes, Audrey (Taylor Swift) and Ted’s Grammy (Betty White) are racing through the town to save the last Truffula tree seed from the evil Mayor O’Hare (Rob Riggle) give the film a more cartoon-like feel.  Still, the madcap action and bright colours will keep the young ones amused.

What surprised me about The Lorax were the really good musical sequences.  I didn’t expect this musical feel to the film, yet somehow it works.  Especially good is the song that the Once-ler sings, “How Bad Can I Be?”  The number at the end, “Let it Grow,” that the people of Thneedville all sing is also good.  The musical numbers make up for the lack of rhyming dialogue, as the magic of Dr. Seuss’ writing has always been his inventive use of rhyme.

It’s hard to top perfection, and Dr. Seuss’s original story of The Lorax is just that.  This movie adaptation, while not perfect, does the source material justice and is a fitting tribute to the author, with the March 2nd release date coinciding with what would have been his 108th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss.

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Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Review by Tony

*** (out of 4)

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is the latest treatment of the classic cautionary tale, largely produced in France by Universal/ Illumination Entertainment. Many will recall and may have a home copy of the Friz Freleng TV version from forty years ago that stuck closely to the quirky images and anapæstic tetrameter verse of Ted Geisel’s illustrated book. At almost four times the length (86 minutes), the current 3D animated film has added characters and scenes with variable success.

The core story recalled to a twelve-year boy by The Once-ler (Ed Helms) is all there, though he is now shown as a full person rather than just a green pair of arms, and we also meet his trashy relatives. The Lorax, a yellow gnome-like figure who “speaks for the trees” is perfectly played by Danny DeVito, even when straying from the original verse. Briefly, The Once-ler had become rich by chopping down truffula trees to make thneeds, destroying the habitat and food supply of the teddy-bear-like Bar-ba-Loots, driving away the Swomee Swans with smog, and polluting the water for the Humming Fish, until there was nothing left but a single seed.

What is new is a whole story built around the boy Ted (Zac Efron), who lives in the aftermath of environmental collapse in the walled plastic town of Thneedville with his Mom (Jenny Slate) and Grammy (Betty White). Tiny Mr. O’Hare (Rob Riggle) is the wicked tycoon who controls the town by selling clean air in 5-gallon (18 L) jugs. Ted is sweet on Audrey (Taylor Swift) who would love anyone who could plant a real tree, which is where the original story is picked up.

The overall look of the animation is a nice blend of Geisel’s images with the Illumination style that we saw in Despicable Me, full of clever details that would continue to be appreciated in multiple viewings. Several charming musical numbers for the human characters and critters more than make up for the spurious action scenes that have little to do with the original source. It will appeal to the whole family, even in 2-D and for those who wait for the home version.

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Consensus: Adding to Dr. Seuss’ original 1971 masterpiece, The Lorax is a good animated film for those of all ages, filled with beautiful visuals, appealing characters and an excellent environmental message that rings true now more then ever***1/4 (Out of 4)

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Brittany Davis permalink
    April 1, 2012 1:08 pm

    I saw this two times at the theatre and l fell in love with it. Screw Fox News for lambasting this movie. And another thing, happy birthday, Theodor Geisel Seuss!

    Like

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