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Review: The Lorax

The Lorax
03.01.2012
7 10

PLOT: Ted has a schoolboy crush on the neighbor girl named Audrey. When he sees that she has painted “Truffula trees” in her backyard, she claims that she would marry anybody that could get her a real tree. With this challenge he takes it upon himself to find one. While questioning his grandmother, she tells him of a strange man that lives outside of town. In hopes to win Audrey’s heart, he searches for this man called “The Once-ler” to find out where he can find a real tree. Now if only the love struck young boy can plant a tree and avoid the nasty Mr. O’Hare, who wants nothing to do with nature… after all, who needs the real thing when you have fake plastic trees? That’s right! We do.

REVIEW: I love Dr. Seuss. Even as an adult there is something so exhilarating about reading his ridiculously giddy rhymes. Whether it is just a bit of counting fun such as “One Fish, Two Fish…” or “The Lorax” which manages a little social commentary in a kid friendly way, there is a certain joy in reading them aloud. And now with the release of DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX, his words will reach out to a whole new audience - that is of course if they weren’t reading it with their families already.

Generally the big screen incarnations of Dr. Seuss have left me a little cold - the Seventies cartoon’s of his books were far more satisfying than most of the big screen flicks. That look and feel of the 1972 “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” with Bob Holt voicing both The Lorax and the Once-ler was seminal to my growing up. In 2012, the little orange thing who speaks for the trees – this time voiced by Danny DeVito – still feels like he may be just as inspirational for children today. This tale of a little fellow who can barely raise his voice yet he still stands up for the trees is a fitting analogy of much of what goes on in the world today. Truth be told, I have to say, Dr. Seuss wouldn’t have it any other way… he could change your life with a single word, say goodbye to strife and let your voice be heard! I couldn’t resist.

In this big screen Seusstravaganza, the famous “Once-ler” (Ed Helms) is left in the shadows for a bit as this story focuses on young Ted (Zac Efron). Twelve-year-old Ted wants to impress a girl named Audrey (Taylor Swift) by finding her a real life, honest to goodness “Truffula tree.” For the world in which they now live everything is plastic and fake. All the trees and forest creatures were driven off thanks to the Once-ler’s invention of the Thneed, which can be any-THNING you need. Yet in this version, the real bad guy is a small little fella named O’Hare (Rob Riggle) with a loud voice and lousy hair. How he became the bad guys is never really explored as the thneed is still part of the storyline. The Once-ler - who became an unscrupulous industrialist in the original story - is relegated to flashbacks and his role as a storyteller for Ted. For all you Seuss purists, you may have some real issue adding O’Hare as the evil business tycoon instead of the desperate for redemption Once-ler.

THE LORAX is big and bold in IMAX and 3D and it looks stunning. With a small handful of musical numbers and a likable hero in the form of Ted, you can do much worse than this when it comes to a family friendly feature. Co-written by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul and co-directed by Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda, the adventures of the tree lovin’ Lorax is certainly charming and fun. The cast seem to be in the spirit even if the voices don’t really feel right with their animated counterparts – the “O’Hare air” delivery guy who is overweight and balding talks like a teenager. As for the 3D, it is put to good use and children will certainly have fun with some of the wacky images on-screen (as well as Seuss loving adults). Thankfully, this has much of the Dr. Seuss visual flair and feels very close to the book in that aspect.

As much as this looks like Dr. Seuss, some of the most intriguing ideas of the original story have been changed and not always for the better. Altering the ending into one big happy party was slightly disappointing, if understandable. It was much more interesting that this strange creature would tell his story to a curious young boy and hope that this child would be able to plant the very last truffula tree seed. Not surprisingly, the movie changes that ambiguous hope into a happy-heavy ending. Sure it may be more child friendly, but the books weren’t exclusively made for grown-ups. If done right, young viewers would be able to search for hope with a less obvious finale.

Yet with all the over-the-top joyfulness and an extraneous villain, there is fun to be had with DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX. This is an enjoyable kid’s flick with a message for a new generation. The environmental aspect might anger a few people but that same idea is in the book itself, there is nothing new about that here. Much like Bob Holt’s take on him, I really warmed up to the character of the Lorax and what DeVito brings to this little critter that speaks for the trees. And yes, Betty White voices another wacky grandma, and everybody loves her, right?

Source: JoBlo.com

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