Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Lorax (2012) - ★★

Director: Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda
Writers: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul (Screenplay), Dr. Seuss (Book)
Voices: Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Betty White, Rob Riggle

The Lorax is one of my favorite children's books of all time by Dr. Seuss. It was beautiful, creative, mystifying, funny, and had a brilliant message at its core. This movie just couldn't capture any of those things perfectly, right down to the animation. I can't help but feel that if this story was left in the hands of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, we'd have a masterpiece on our hands. Instead, we have an almost lifeless 3D modern adaptation that captures neither the heart or the life of Dr. Seuss's vision. It's modern, and at times unfaithful to the book, which is essentially what caused its downfall.

A 12-year-old boy (Efron) searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams (Swift). To find it he must discover the story of the Lorax (DeVito), the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world. You find out about the wild and wacky world of Truffula Trees and Thneeds, but then you're led on a modern chase that was concocted by those who adapted the book... which was a perfect book that needed no alterations.

For the most part, they captured the spirit of The Lorax well. The message is clear: chopping down trees = bad. It will cause the destruction of our world. However, they couldn't quite recreate the beautiful world that is this story. 3D animation has worked well for certain films, such as Finding Nemo and Shrek. For this story, I feel the loving touch of hand-drawn animation would suit it much better.

Cute and fuzzy couldn't save this film.
None of the characters were particularly likable, not even The Lorax. There is no character development present, you just see a good character turn into a bad character through a quick song. They could have made it poetic, awe-inspiring even... I mean, it's a tragic story in all reality. There's this beautiful world full of magical puffy trees and wonderful creatures, but it gets destroyed due to the greed and stupidity of mankind. The whole destruction sequence could have been handled with more grace and professionalism than just a silly song.

Another thing that was amazing about Dr. Seuss's book is that there's hope for a better tomorrow. Even after you've witnessed the destruction of the Truffula's, you're left with a smile at the fact that they're going to return after all. It was a bit like the ending of Princess Mononoke (1997), which showed that the forest would return with a subtle and magical hint.

Efron and Swift do a good job at voice acting.
However, this movie holds the hand of the audience and spoils all of that hope and wonder. Instead of leaving us with the tragedy of the story and the hope of a new beginning, they've added half an hour of crap to answer a simple question that didn't need answering. There were uninteresting chase scenes, unfunny one-liners, and a ridiculous new villain added to the fray. All of this to say "they lived happily ever after." Personally, this killed the movie for me.

I will always love The Lorax as a story, and it will forever be my favorite of Dr. Seuss's magical tales. This movie didn't do justice to it whatsoever. I'd go as far as to say it's the worst animated film I've seen in years. While some kids will love the bright colors and fuzzy creatures, I say that they could have had all of that, plus an intelligent and poetic air about it.

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