Eye For Film >> Movies >> Dr Seuss' The Lorax (2012) Film Review
Dr Seuss' The Lorax
Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald
The 2008 Great Depression hits children's cinema in a weird and beguiling fashion. Chris Renaud's film adaptation of Dr Seuss' enduringly popular, if slender work has an environmentally conservative and politically critical bent running through it. It's a timely clash, if nothing else.
Thneedville (pronounced Th*raspberry*need-vill) is a post-industrial town, full of the kind of uniform, colourful architecture one could imagine the residents of Edward Scissorhands taking root in. Ted (Zac Efron) is a teenager hoping to win favour with his flame-haired beloved by finding a real Truffula tree. Unfortunately, Ted's efforts are unlikely; no-one's seen one in years. His dotty (but sharp as a tack) grandma is old enough to remember them and tells him to find the Once-ler, who has a story of his own to offer - about the guardian of the forests, The Lorax.
In a post-Pixar universe, colourful pixels and visual splendour are simply not enough. There's a dearth of interesting characterisation, no-one with the innate likability of Woody and Buzz, and no storytelling with the thematic depth of even the weaksauce Cars. The villain is feeble - an industrial swizzler selling fresh air to the smog and filth blighted Thneedville. There's nothing threatening about him, even when he's perpetually surrounded by stocky MiBs ready to deal some damage.
For all the 3D eyeball-poking efforts, barbershop-quartet singing fish and more colours than an explosion in a paintbox, the thin story never rises beyond merely okay. It's a musical, so there's a handful of decidedly average songs; the best is a creepy one where the Once-ler becomes an unrestrained capitalist, ripping down the candyfloss trees to feed his burgeoning bank account.
At the moment, Universal Studios needs a hit, and this isn't it. The lack of strong characters and storytelling means it probably won't do much repeat business.
It's not a badly made film, but the efforts to pad out Seuss' story with Ted's story, odd dashes of American Jewish humour and shenanigans do not disguise the thin and trite storytelling. Halfway through, I wasn't sure whether the film is a sophisticated satire of insincerity, or whether it's actually insincere. The rushed, smooshy and falsely upbeat ending clarified that.Reviewed on: 21 Jun 2012
If you like this, try:Dr Seuss' Horton Hears A Who!