It’s hard to ignore the words “From the creators of Despicable Me”, especially for me. I thought that film was great, so my hopes were high for The Lorax. I wasn’t completely disappointed, although it wasn’t quite what I expected.
12 year old Ted (Zac Efron) is trying to win the heart of Audrey (Taylor Swift). When she tells him that she would “probably marry” any man who could give her a tree, Ted has his idea. The problem is that the town they live in is completely man made. There’s no grass, trees, or even fresh air. Ted decides to leave town and find the Once-ler (Ed Helms), the one person who can help him find a real tree. This is when Ted hears the story of the Lorax, and finds out what happened to all the trees.
It’s not entirely my fault that I’ve never read much Dr. Seuss before. My parents could have helped there a bit, but I was all about Star Wars from as young as I can remember. This left me thinking the story was all about Ted and Audrey in their strange town. At least that’s the idea that just about every trailer gave me. Had I read the original story, I would have known that it’s really all about the Once-ler and how his invention led to the destruction of all the trees.
It’s the story of the Once-ler that left me wanting more. The story is quite preachy without beating you over the head, but that was kind of the problem for me. It’s obvious that the story is pointing out how damaging the environment is bad, but nobody in the film really seems to care. Ted just wants to grow a tree to impress Audrey, and the rest of the town is happy to live in their plastic world. We all know what will happen in the end, but it’s not the realization that I was expecting. It just seemed like a story that is so focused on how we shouldn’t damage the environment, should end with a powerful message. Instead, it’s more of a fizzle, as if Ted says “Hey, trees are important.” and the rest of the town goes “Sure, sounds good.”
Normally I wouldn’t want a film to be preachy, but the idea is handled so well that I wanted them to bash me over the head with it. There was a chance to get the kids to leave the theatre really caring about the environment. My kids just left thinking that all the bears in the movie were really cute. I’d have to agree with them there. As is usually the case, the smaller characters in the film are more entertaining than the main players. The story of the Once-ler is full of singing fish and bears that constantly steal the show. They get the laughs, they’re the cute ones, and they always steal the scenes. Someone needs to just make a movie full of the side characters.
While I did enjoy the movie, I thought the story of Ted and Audrey was the more exciting part of the film. They wind up battling Mr. O’Hare (Rob Riggle), the local businessman who is selling clean air to the townspeople. He doesn’t want anyone growing real trees because they’ll just provide clean air for free. There’s an exciting chase scene towards the end of the film that I wish had filled more of the running time. The design of the town was interesting and visually exciting, and I thought more of the story could have taken place there.
That’s not what The Lorax was ever about though, and the story of the Once-ler and the Lorax was a lot of fun. That probably has more to do with the funny antics of the bears and fish though. In the end, the movie was fun and entertaining, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something missing. There was something holding it back from being a great film, but I can’t figure out what it could be. The entire family enjoyed it, but I think this is one flick that you could wait for a DVD release.
Under the marquee – Will