"I speak for the Trees!"
Movie Review: "THE LORAX"
Published: Thursday, March 1, 2012
Updated: Friday, March 2, 2012 10:03
Chris Renaud's "THE LORAX", based off the book by Dr. Seuss himself, doesn't make an exception to the rule that states "Every animated movie needs a message behind it." That message, surprisingly, is an original part of the book, the fact that Dr. Seuss in 1971 tried to expose the many anti-green actions of big corporations around this country and the world. It works well with the plot of the movie, but ruining the poetic and rhythmic vibe of Thneedville is the need for 3D technology.
I'm sure you've all read the story at some point. If you don't remember it, the plot is very true to the book - always a plus for kids films – as the story begins as Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) has a crush on Audrey (Taylor Swift) and devises a way to win her love. He must find her a real, true, oxygen-producing tree, something that most residents of Thneedville have never seen in their lives since everything there is made out of plastic. That is, except for Ted's Grammy Norma.
She tells him about the Once-Ler, a mysterious man who lives outside Thneedville in the barren wild that may be able to provide Ted with a tree for Audrey. Ted heads there with gifts for the Once-Ler, who tells him that he must listen to his life story in order to obtain a Truffula tree seed. Ted obliges, and has to leave Thneedville several more times to come back because the story is so long. Preventing his return is the super corporate midget O'Hare (comparable to Tex Richman from "THE MUPPETS"), who has a monopoly over Thneedville by selling air in the lifeless place (he soon plans to sell bottled air, too).
I never thought there would be a day when a film that Danny DeVito acted in underused him. "THE LORAX" is that film. Director Chris Renaud made little to no use of the raspy-voiced, hilariously vibrant DeVito in his Lorax character. None of his dialogue is the least bit inventive, and the Lorax character doesn't bring nearly as many smiles to your face as the others. However, Zac Efron still sounds like a young boy, so he provides a good voiceover for Ted, as does Swift in her rather minor role as Audrey.
The story is biblically inspired, as the Lorax himself is a God-like figure and Ted can be seen as a representation of the reincarnation of Jesus. The Once-Ler is the ultimately forgiven betraying Judas character. With songs containing lyrics like "And the PR people are lying, and the lawyers are denying," it's clearly a message musical from the beginning, true to itself in that way. That was the way that Seuss wrote the book, so there's no reason to downgrade the movie over that aspect. However, the 3D projection and the coloring are a whole different story.
The colors of the movie should be bright, but the presence of this obnoxious, stupid and temporary wear-glasses-while-you're-watching-a-movie novelty prevents this, making the "THE LORAX" several shades darker than it should be. If you take your glasses off mid-movie, you can see how colorful the film is supposed to look; and it's made several shades darker by the 3D. Many of the shots are even blurry at times because the 3D takes the depth out of them. I probably would have liked this film more if I saw it on a 2D digital projector, as the dismal 3D presentation took a lot of fun away from "THE LORAX".