Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Lorax: Movie Review

The Lorax: Movie Review

Voice cast: Zac Efron, Ed Helms, Danny deVito, Taylor Swift, Betty White, Rob Riggle
Director: Chris Renauld, Kyle Balda

From the team who brought us Despicable Me comes this latest computer animated outing The Lorax.

Zac Efron is 12 year old Ted, who lives in the world of Thneedville, a walled city where all the trees are dead and their world is covered in plastic inflatable trees as well as other artificial bits and bobs.

Smitten with Taylor Swift's Audrey, Ted is determined to win her over and make her the girl of his dreams - his way of doing this? Getting a tree for her.

So, when his Grammy tells him that a mysterious being known as the Once-ler who lives outside the walled city has the key to the trees, Ted sets off to break out of Thneedville and discover what exactly happened.

But Ted's quest isn't going unmonitored - for hot on his heels and watching his every move, is greedy corporate baddie Mr O'Hare who owns a bottled oxygen company and who fears that if Ted gets his way, his empire will come crashing down.

However, when Ted finds the Once-ler, he discovers the guilty secret that he holds and how his quest to make a Thneed from the trees left them with a wasteland - despite the intervention of the spirit of the forests, the moustachioed Lorax (Danny De Vito).

Can Ted make a difference to what's gone on?

I'm not familiar with Dr Seuss' source material for this one; I understand it's based on Seuss' worries over economic progress at the expense of the environment -and I have to say this latest computer animation reeks of indoctrination from beginning to end.

The songs which permeate the brightly orange coloured film are clearly cleverly written to support the whole "Let's save the environment" stance of the piece. And it gets a little tiresome quite quickly. There's something insidious about the lyrics which get stuck in your head - the final song, a gospel style ode to the trees, is called "Let It grow" and for days, it's been lodged inside my brain like a seed growing away.

There's nothing wrong with that stance and fair play to the creators for so heavily pushing it but I just feel like the message was sledge hammered home over any level of subtlety.

Which is a real shame - because the animation, complete with its requisite looniness which you'd come to expect from the creators of Despicable Me, suits the piece perfectly. There's little of Seuss' rhyming within the film itself though and while the younger end of the audience won't care or notice, maybe fans will feel a little cheated. The film skews toward a younger demographic and while that's not a bad thing given the orange brightness of the whole piece (even the Lorax looks like an over spray-tanned Mark Sainsbury from Close Up), there's a small part of the film where the energy levels take a hit and it sags a little.

In terms of the talent, Zac Efron is ok as Ted and Taylor Swift is fairly innocuous - the star of the piece is Betty White who shows even in animated form, she can steal the scene. Ed Helms also makes a good go of his mournful post tree destructive Once-ler giving manic energy to the character before corporate greed overtakes him. Even De Vito is relied on to be more of a sad faced kind of Lorax, spirit of the forest.

Overall, The Lorax isn't bad - it's just that without the much needed easing off of the "Save the Trees, Save the Planet" message, the whole thing's a little heavy handed and leaves a sour taste in the mouth rather than the bouncy joy a Dr Seuss book should be.


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