The Lorax (Danny DeVito)
Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures
With incredible, in-your-face images, the 3D-animated release of The Lorax maintains Dr. Seuss’ illustrative style but brings it to a whole other level of visual excitement. The fresh aesthetic, though, is only bait for the audience to learn the original story’s classic message. Although the film includes cuddly, marshmallow-gobbling critters and harmonizing fish, it is at its core a satire about corporate greed, pollution, and resource depletion.
The movie adaptation, acting almost as a prequel to the book, follows the efforts of 12-year-old Ted (Zac Efron) to find a real tree in the totally artificial town of Thneedville. He seeks the help of the Once-ler (Ed Helms) who tells Ted the story of how Thneedville reached its tree-less state. Despite the warnings of the magical, forest-protecting Lorax (Danny DeVito), the Once-ler had cut down all the trees in pursuit of thneeds – objects that can serve as hats, scarves, or shammies among countless other purposes. Ultimately, it is left to Ted to change things for the future.
Visually, the film is a treat. The 3D animation is effective (when a baby bear drools from above, you might find yourself wiping your forehead), but at times underused. In the less action-packed moments, the visuals look like a normal, 2D film. The animators seem determined to make exciting scenes mind-blowingly beautiful, but forgot about to add depth to the more “average” scenes. Still, it’s hard to complain about the aesthetics when the computer animation so effectively captures that wackiness of Seuss’ classic style.
Likethe television special from 1972, the film included multiple musical numbers. They are surprisingly striking, considering the music isn’t being pushed as the film’s main draw. The songs, while cheesy at times, feature some fantastic vocals, notably from one mustachioed O’Hare employee who executes jaw-dropping riffs in a shocking soprano.
Unfortunately, the film’s environmental message might be lost to younger audiences as cute characters and a romantic plot dominate screen time. However, the movie is a step in the right direction toward exposing important messages to children early on. And luckily, the Lorax offers some inspiring and easy-to-understand wisdom: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, it’s not going to get better. It’s not.”