Chris Pandolfi Avatar Posted on 3/3/2012 by Chris Pandolfi
Movies
Reviews
A visually spectacular work of animation with vivid and bold colors, whose rendered characters and environments are remarkably faithful to Seuss’ distinctly quirky visual style.

If I’ve failed to convince you of its thematic merits, there are a host of other reasons to see this movie. It is, for one thing, a visually spectacular work of animation. The colors are vivid and bold. The rendered characters and environments are remarkably faithful to Seuss’ distinctly quirky visual style. The look of the film is so good that it’s second only to the previous Seuss adaptation, the wonderful “Horton Hears a Who!” It’s often times quite funny, and as is the case with most family friendly animated films, most of the best gags are reserved for the side characters. In this case, we have legions of teddy bears and land-dwelling goldfish, three of which harmonize in the same helium-voiced fashion of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Both species, we soon learn, are quite fond of marshmallows.
Release: March 2, 2012
Rating: PG
Studio: Universal Pictures
Written by Chris Pandolfi (editor-at-large)

Thirty years before Al Gore was demonized for telling the truth about global warming, Dr. Seuss was chastised for promoting environmentalism in his book The Lorax. Even before its publication in 1970, global deforestation was a major problem, and it continues to this day, especially in tropical regions. I will not provide the statistics here; there’s more than enough quality information on the net for you to research. I will say that deforestation is widely agreed amongst the world’s best environmental experts to be a major contributing factor in the extinction of species, the displacement of populations, soil erosion, and changes to climactic conditions. Amazing, how perfectly one of Seuss’ rhyming passages sums up the solution: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

This message is not lost in Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, a 3D computer animated adaptation of the book. Some have already pigeonholed the film as liberal indoctrination, which I think is sad and woefully ignorant. The environment is an issue that is neither liberal nor conservative. It affects each and every one of us. Countless studies have proven this to be true. This movie does not promote a political position; it merely comments on what I believe to be well documented scientific facts. If you take the environment and science out of the equation altogether, it will still deliver a positive life message, one that I think people of all persuasions can agree on: Actions have consequences. Therefore, be sure to think things through and know exactly what you’re doing before moving forward.

If I’ve failed to convince you of its thematic merits, there are a host of other reasons to see this movie. It is, for one thing, a visually spectacular work of animation. The colors are vivid and bold. The rendered characters and environments are remarkably faithful to Seuss’ distinctly quirky visual style. The look of the film is so good that it’s second only to the previous Seuss adaptation, the wonderful Horton Hears a Who! It’s often times quite funny, and as is the case with most family friendly animated films, most of the best gags are reserved for the side characters. In this case, we have legions of teddy bears and land-dwelling goldfish, three of which harmonize in the same helium-voiced fashion of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Both species, we soon learn, are quite fond of marshmallows.

To my great surprise, it’s also the best 3D film I’ve seen since Hugo. The projection was bright and clear, and more importantly, there was a noticeable sense of depth perception. In other words, I actually felt immersed in the world. Perhaps it’s true that animation is the ideal medium for 3D. The only real disappointments are the songs by John Powell and Cinco Paul; they may be appropriate for the material, and they do have moments of catchiness, but don’t expect to be humming any of the tunes as you leave the theater. Such a shame so few composer/lyricist teams have been able to match the Disney song bank, specifically the selections composed by Alan Menken. If you’re not humming “Be Our Guest” when Beauty and the Beast is over, you may want to check your pulse.

The main setting of The Lorax is Thneed-Ville, a walled-off city where everything, including the foliage, is artificial. Even air has to be bottled and sold. The whole city is under the control of an air tycoon named O’Hare (voiced by Rob Riggle), who may be small in stature but is enormous in his greed. We meet a boy named Ted (voiced by Zac Efron), who’s smitten by a pretty young woman named Audrey (voiced by Taylor Swift). Her dream is to someday see a real live tree. Ted, determined to impress Audrey, goes on a quest to find one. According to his feisty grandmother (voiced by Betty White), the only one who knows about living trees is the Once-Ler, who lives beyond the walls of the city.

And so Ted discreetly breaches the city limits, narrowly avoiding O’Hare’s ever-present surveillance system. After a brief scooter ride through a smoggy, desolate wasteland of tree stumps, Ted locates the ramshackle home of the Once-Ler (voiced by Ed Helms), who lives in solitude and never shows his face. He tells Ted the story of when he was a young, idealistic inventor, of how the surrounding land used to be a lush forest of Seussian trees, and of how his lust for power and wealth led to the forest’s destruction. He also tells him of the Lorax (voiced by Danny DeVito), a small, grumpy orange creature that guarded the forest. It seems not all hope is lost; the Once-Ler bestows a single tree seedling, the last of its kind, to Ted with the hope that he will take it back to Thneed-Ville and plant it.

O’Hare does not take kindly to this, for he knows that the free production of fresh air would ruin him. This inevitably leads to a chase sequence through the streets of Thneed-Ville, but because the animation and 3D were in such perfect harmony, I found that I didn’t much care about overused story conventions. Ted will not only have to be quicker than O’Hare but smarter as well, for the people are not yet aware of his controlling ways. Can Ted save the day? You will, of course, know the answer by the end of the movie, although I don’t think the action is as important as the subtext. That will definitely prevent certain people from responding to Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, a fact I find troubling. Why is it some of us are unwilling to see reason in matters that are so clearly defined?







Lacks the nostalgic pulp magazine atmosphere that made its predecessor so much fun, but as a Marvel film it gets the job done.
April 4, 2014Read More!
More audacious than volume one, mostly because of von Trier’s willingness to delve into the darker, often unexplored recesses of the mind.
April 4, 2014Read More!
In spite of Berry's incredible performance(s), the film cannot escape its controversial subject matter or its melodramatic plot.
April 4, 2014Read More!
Disney returns its Peter Pan spin off series to the high seas in The Pirate Fairy.
April 4, 2014Read More!
Competently made and well cast, though it tells a story so rote and predictable that you might as well watch it with a checklist of genre clichés.
April 2, 2014Read More!
See More From Movies...
Pure silliness, wrapped around a history lesson that’s largely apolitical; stars persons and places more recognizable than the first book.
April 7, 2014Read More!
Stories written between 2003 and 2010 that are bagatelles; not bad, but not memorable; not the Waldrop collection to start with, but buy it anyway.
April 3, 2014Read More!
An exemplary vision spanning 192 pages, with plenty of juicy information about Respawn’s wondrous new world to sate even the most jaded of gamers.
March 21, 2014Read More!
Even if its source material wasn't to your liking, there’s plenty to enjoy about this accompanying tome, especially if you can appreciate great art when you see it.
March 21, 2014Read More!
We chat with Cosplay Deviants' Troy Doerner about his new book Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up.
March 19, 2014Read More!
See More From Culture...
This next-gen COD style mech adventure is one best experienced with equipment that can make it shine, even if the underlying product is still kind of dull.
April 14, 2014Read More!
A great example of a 'clone' of popular genre games done right, especially those unavailable on platforms they make the most sense on.
April 14, 2014Read More!
A streamlined version of 999 that doffs the need for convoluted gameplay, presenting the same events and chilling twists that make the game accessible to anyone. In short, it's awesome.
April 14, 2014Read More!
While commendable to see a darker take on familiar archetypes, fans may want to stick with a different strategy-RPG that doesn't try so hard to be edgy.
April 14, 2014Read More!
A new act, class, loot system and more await fans in the first expansion to Blizzard’s Diablo 3.
April 8, 2014Read More!
See More From Games...