This post is the unedited version of the review published in our film review column “Animadversion” for Images On Sunday (Dawn Newspaper) on 18th March 2012. The link and scans of the printed version are at the end of the post.
Green-Peace Hammered-In – in Vivid 3D
By Farheen Jawaid
The 3D-powered animated feature of the good (green environment), the bad (capitalism) and the ugly (greed) is what Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is, in a nut shell. Everything else is only pretty adornment for this Universal release.
The story has a young boy named Ted (Zach Efron), infatuated with a high school going, tree loving girl, Audrey (Taylor Swift). Audrey has one dream: to see a real tree.
Why is that? Because Ted and Audrey, live in a town named Thneed-Ville, which is a Truman Show-like enclosed city with plastic trees where fresh air is sold in bottles. Thneed-Ville is run by Mr. O’Hare (Rob Riggle), the Mayor of the city, who is mean and short with a bad hair do and the owner of the fresh air bottle company.
Ted goes on a mission to find to a tree for Audrey. With supportive nudging from his Grandmother (Betty White), he finds the Once-ler (Ed Helms), a man who knew about trees. The Once-ler, who no one has seen, lives outside the city in a rickety shack.
Once Ted finds the Once-ler, he tells the tale of when he was young and everything was green and fresh with Truffula Trees, which had pink fur instead of leaves. When there were Bar-ba-loots, (another name for cute harmless bears) and Humming-Fish (like the Minions of Despicable Me, both, annoying and cute). He also tells him about the guardian of the trees, the Lorax (Danny DeVito), a short orange guy with a big yellow mustache.
Produced by Illumination Entertainment and co-directed by first timer Kyle Balda and Chris Renaud (of Despicable Me), The Lorax has the same writing team from Horton Hears a Who! (Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul).
Adapting Dr. Seuss’ books as animations have always fared well than jarringly bad live action features like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat. As always, it’s not an easy task to imaginatively adapt a small picture book – especially with a voice as distinctive as Dr. Seuss’ – without compromising too much narrative for the sake of reeling-in commercial charm.
With The Lorax, it’s the same story. Its bright, pretty and heavy on preach as green peace is hammered-in, unblinkingly, as is the book.
Still, it has some nice musical numbers (Let It Grow and How Bad Can I Be?), light tongue-in-cheek humor, and wonderful – and sometimes over used – 3D. The guys at Illumination Entertainment worked with what they got. Sadly there wasn’t much there to work with in the first place.
The published version is here:
And it looks like this: