The Lorax, a film based on Dr. Seuss’s story has been in theaters a couple weeks now, and I finally decided to give it a go. Based on Seuss’s tale of the Lorax, a mystical creature that preaches nature conservation and warns of the dangers of resource consumption, this film adds quite a lot to the source material. Does this film faithfully tell the message from the original story, or should it be chopped to the ground?
I’ve always been a huge fan of Dr. Seuss. I had tons of the books as a child, and the messages have always kind of stuck with me. Honestly, I got more out of his books than the bible. When this movie was announced, I was very on the fence about it. With a message as strong as The Lorax, it could be really easy to completely miss the mark. When some of the product tie ins and advertising campaigns started getting press coverage, I lost all interest in it. When the ads started coming out using The Lorax to sell SUVs, I was completely convinced that all message had been lost and the movie had turned into a contrite cash grab. The only thing that made me slightly interested in it again was when it started getting attention and people were saying that it was indoctrinating kids with a liberal environmental agenda. Going in, I knew they had beefed up the story and butchered the hell out of the key aspects, so I really wasn’t expecting much.
But, I was pleasantly surprised. They did beef up the story, but they did in a very unobtrusive way. They added a love interest, a big evil mega corporation, and a whole slew of new things. But you know what? all of that takes up about thirty minutes spread out through out the film. The bulk of the film still centers around The Lorax, and his relationship with the Once-ler. Of course there has to be certain plot points added to move the film forward, but they never really feel forced or out of place. They did a very good job constructing a story around the part of the book that takes place in modern day. The gave the boy a name, a life, and a family. They showed whats happened because of what the Once-ler had done. They showed cause and effect, which was mostly left out of the book. The theme of the book remains mostly untouched, yet they seemed to add on to it. The theme might be presented in a lighthearted way, but it’s still there, and its still strong. The writing is wonderful, and even though it has a topflight cast, the only voice that stuck out until I read the credits was Betty White. The actors get really creative with their characters, and it makes the whole film just seem to have just the extra bit of heart some of these films seem to have missing.
There’s been tons of computer animated 3d films in the past couple years, and they just keep getting better. This one is no different, and it looks beautiful. I think this is one of the only times I would recommend seeing it as big as you can, and in 3d if you can. I saw it in IMAX 3d, and it was amazing. Films like this really pop with 3d, and it looks better than any live action film to date when it comes to 3d. Everything just looks great. When it comes to the production design, they did great. Everything looks “Seussified”. From the cars to the houses to the animals, everything just has a slightly wacky edge to it. Even Thneedville as a whole looks great, and so much detail has gone into everything. Horton Hears A Who came close, but this one hits the design nail square on the head.
All in all, if you can look over the ridiculous marketing and tie ins, and look past the whole liberal propaganda angle, and go in with a good attitude, you might just enjoy it. It’s definitely a children’s film and if you have kids between 4 and 9, I can’t think of a better way to introduce them to the concept of nature conservation. And like most children’s films, there’s still a good amount of humor thrown in for the adults. The lesson and themes from the book is still here, but at times it does seem to take a back seat to the addition of the present day story line. But it’s still entertaining, and it still spreads a good, positive message. The only thing I can honestly say is wrong with it is the marketing, and the tie ins. If Dr. Seuss knew The Lorax was used to sell SUVs, he would be spinning in grave so fast you could power a small city.
4 out of 5