Dr. Seuss' The Lorax - SideReel Review
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is a rollicking tale that’s aesthetically pleasing, thanks to its vivid pastoral visuals and pro-environmental, anti-greed message wrapped in a bright package of dazzling colors. The movie is based on the children's book of the same name, and is the fourth feature film based on a book by Seuss and the first to be released in 3D. Director Chris Renaud, who stuck to the adaptation playbook first set by 2008’s Horton Hears a Who, infuses the movie with a particular brand of giddy humor in the vein of his prior work, Despicable Me. With The Lorax, he finds a way to broaden Seuss’ environmental cautionary tale without straying too far from the source material’s ideas, and armed with a splendid voice cast, he delivers a zany fable that will delight both kids and parents alike.
The story centers on Ted (voice of Zac Efron) an idealistic 12-year-old boy who lives in the artificial city of Thneedville. Inspired by the wishes of a cute girl named Audrey (Taylor Swift), Ted sets out to find the one thing that will win her affections -- a real, living tree. While searching for a tree, he meets the reclusive Once-ler (Ed Helms), who lives beyond the city limits and explains how greed stripped the countryside of its vegetation, despite the intervention of the Lorax (Danny DeVito), a grumpy yet charming creature who serves as protector of the Truffula trees. Armed with the last Truffula seed, Ted sets out to remind the town of the importance of nature, while fending off the wealthy mayor of Thneedville, O’Hare (Rob Riggle), who has no intention of leaving any traces of the Lorax’s once lush countryside.
Zac Efron adds a boyish innocence to the role of Ted, the idealist who sets his sights beyond the plastic walls of the artificial town of Thneedville, while Taylor Swift brings an agreeable virtuousness to the much more enlightened Audrey. Supporting voices include Betty White as Ted's spirited Grammy Norma, Jenny Slate as Ted's nurturing mother, and Riggle as the villainous mayor.
There's a strong theme of environmentalism that writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio emphasize throughout the film, with the aim of inspiring young people to take an interest in protecting the environment and learning to become eco-warriors. This message bred criticism by some who claimed that the movie was trying to indoctrinate children with an anti-big business, pro-environment message, but controversy aside, the writing duo translate the book's themes without being overly preachy.
Considering the brevity of Seuss' works, one of the drawbacks of The Lorax is that the creative team’s attempts to stretch out the story are at their weakest when the film strays from the book by adding action sequences, extraneous subplots, and original songs that seem wholly out of place. Regardless, the end result is still a solidly entertaining movie that captures the magic of the beloved tale.