Based upon the book by Dr. Seuss (whose name is officially part of the title), THE LORAX has been contemporized a bit making it accessible to not only super-environmental-types, but to those who were raised upon conservation and not environmentalism. In THE LORAX, Ted (Zac Efron) is a twelve-year-old boy who lives in the plasticized, walled city of Thneedville. Ted is in love with a teenage girl named Audrey (Taylor Swift). Audrey doesn't quite fit in Thneedville and paints the back of her house full of colorful trees which no longer exist. She longs to see a real tree and Ted becomes determined to find one for her. During dinner one night, Ted's Grammy Norma (Betty White) tells Ted that in order to find out what happened to the trees and if there's another one to be found, he needs to speak with the Once-ler (Ed Helms) who lives outside the city walls. Ted has never been outside the city, but sets out on a mission to meet the Once-ler and find a tree. He succeeds in finding the creature on the edge of town and the Once-ler tells Ted his story of how he started life off as an industrious, young man with a heart who just wanted to be a success, how he found a valley of paradise, and how he met The Lorax (Danny Devito). Before the story is through, the Once-ler's tale will merge with Ted's and perhaps revive the valley again.
Visually, THE LORAX is stunning. Both the natural beauty of the paradise valley and the plastic artificiality of Thneedville are full of bright and beautiful colors. These are contrasted by the present day greys of the world outside of Thneedville, the world that the Once-ler created.
The story stays fairly close to Dr. Seuss' original tale. However, there are a few differences. The Once-ler isn't a creature that's only seen by his hands, but instead has been transformed into a thin and tall man. When we first see the young Once-ler, there are distinct feelings of sympathy for him and empathy with his plight. It's hard to believe this industrious man will be responsible for cutting down all the Truffula Trees, but the temptations of family and fortune are strong. There are a couple of scenes in the forest that are added to pad the story. Also, instead of leaving at different times, the animals of the forest leave together in a mass exodus. Personally, I thought this element weakened the story.
Like the book, there is a strong conservationist message to THE LORAX, but I didn't see any anti-capitalistic undertones. The Once-ler is "punished" not because he was industrious and wanted to earn a living, but because he gave in to greed and destroyed the very thing that was allowing him to earn a living. Mr. O'Hare, the Mayor of Thneedville isn't a villain because he's a businessman, but because he's manufactured his fortune based upon a lie and even when confronted with the truth, he refuses to concede.
There's a lot of music in THE LORAX that comes in a variety of styles, folk, rock-a-billy, and some Broadway-type showtunes. Personally, I liked the smaller numbers which are mostly sung by the Once-ler (Ed Helms).
THE LORAX has broad appeal. It's a film that kids will enjoy for the characters and bright scenery, while many adults will enjoy for some of the subtle bits of humor. The mass consumerism message isn't as blatant as in WALL-E, but it's still there. Overall, it's a movie that The Lorax himself would probably enjoy watching.
on April 9, 2012
In the age of Hollywood's seeming endless films aimed against greed, consumerism, and environmental destruction, "The Lorax" is not to be outdone. Unlike the other films with hidden messages, this one is very direct. The voice of Danny Devito and Betty White made the film very special as you can see them in those roles. The film incorporates some of the original Dr. Seuss poetry to convey the message, but doesn't bog down the film with it as to lose the target audience who may not enjoy it as much as we did when we read the original first edition hard covers in the third grade.
The story is about the Once-ler (what's in a name? Ed Helms) who cuts down all the trees and at times looking like Elton John playing the Pinball Wizard. He did this to make the Thneed (a versatile Huggie) that no one wanted until a pretty girl wore one. Ted Wiggins (Zac Efron) wants to obtain a tree because the pretty redhead Audry (Taylor Swift) wants one. Sort of like Brad Pitt suddenly caring about hungry third world kids. There are musical numbers and numerous messages about consumer marketing, greed, bottled water, and the environment. SNL's Nasim Pedrad did the voice of the Once-ler's mom, reminding me of the grandmother in the old Carol Burnett series.
Perhaps the best message of the film is that individuals can make a difference. As an adult I enjoyed the film.
on April 28, 2016
My wife and I loved this movie. It was fun and original. Here is the synopsis from IMDB
Ted Wiggins (Zac Efron), an idealistic 12-year-old boy, lives in "Thneed-Ville", a walled city that, aside from the citizens, is completely artificial: everything is made of plastic, metal, or synthetics. Ted sets out to find the one thing that will win him the affection of Audrey (Taylor Swift), the girl of his dreams, who wishes to see a real tree. Ted's energetic grandmother (Betty White) suggests he speak with the Once-ler (Ed Helms) on the matter. Ted manages to find his way outside of the city, finding out where much of the city's waste and contaminants are, and an empty wasteland filled with tree stumps, and broken-down equipment.
Following a path, he comes across the Once-ler's Lurkem (aka his home). The Once-ler at first tells Ted to go away, but when Ted claims he wishes to hear about trees, the Once-ler begins to tell him his tale.
In his youth, the Once-ler was a young man, who left his mean-spirited family, and set out into the world to make his fortune, and find suitable material to create a product he dubbed 'a Thneed.' He soon chanced upon the land of the Truffula Trees, where lived the Barbaloots, Swammy Swans, and the Humming Fish. Chopping down one tree to make his Thneed, out of the downed tree's stump popped the Lorax. The Lorax berates the Once-ler for what he has done, and orders him to leave. However, the Once-ler refuses.
After this, the Lorax attempts to have the animals help him float the Once-ler out of the area on a river, but ends up accidentally steering him towards a nearby waterfall. The Lorax and the other animals manage to save the Once-ler, who then promises that he won't cut down anymore trees.
The Once-ler soon after goes to a nearby town to sell his Thneed, but no one is interested until he throws it away, and the townspeople see the multiple uses a Thneed can have. With demand exceeding supply, the Once-ler contacts his family to come and help him. The family is more accepting of the Once-ler given his new success, but is disrespectful of the Lorax and the local environment.
When it seems the method of simply hand-picking Truffula tufts is too slow, the Once-ler gives into his family's request to chop down the trees to make the job quicker. The Lorax attempts to ask the Once-ler to stop this, but he refuses, focusing on 'biggering' his company and business, not giving a care that deforestation and industrial waste are harming the ecosystem.
Eventually, the Lorax finally manages to have an audience with the Once-ler, who claims that he will not cease production...until during their conversation, they witness the cutting down of the last Truffula tree. With no trees left, the Once-ler's family packs up and leaves (after once again claiming their disappointment in him for no longer being a success), and the Barbaloots, Swammy Swans, and Humming Fish leave. The Lorax is the last one to go, floating away and leaving the Once-ler alone in the wasteland he created.
The Once-ler relates the story to Ted over several visits. Over this time, the mayor of Thneed-Ville, Aloysius O'Hare (Rob Riggle), finds out about Ted's leaving town and attempts to stop him. O'Hare is the most powerful and wealthy citizen in town, selling the citizens bottled air at high prices, and feels that Ted's 'meddling' will jeopardize his position and profits. Even so, Ted continues to leave town.
When the Once-ler finally completes his story to Ted, they ponder the small pile of rocks the Lorax left behind, upon which is written one word: "Unless." The Once-ler then gives Ted a Truffula seed and requests that he use it to repopulate the world with the trees.
Ted eagerly returns to Thneed-Ville to show Audrey, but he is accosted by O'Hare and two of his minions. With the help of his family, Ted, Audrey, and his grandmother head to the center of town to plant the seed. O'Hare gives chase, but his attempts to claim the seed fail. Confronting the three in the center of town, O'Hare tries to convince the townspeople they are better off without trees, citing them to be unclean, and an intrusion on their perfect world. To counter this, Ted, Audrey, and his grandmother climb aboard an Earthmover, and knock down part of the city's wall, revealing the wasteland outside.
Getting a taste of reality, the townspeople rally around Ted, and the seed is planted. Their cheers reach the ears of the Once-ler, who takes down the boards over the window of his Lurkem.
Time passes, and we see the seed has caused numerous small Truffula trees to begin appearing across the wasteland. As the Once-ler leaves his lurkem to water a few, he is surprised to see a Swammy Swan fly by, and shortly thereafter, the Lorax appears before him. The two embrace, with the Lorax telling the Once-ler that he did good.
on March 17, 2016
Having watched some of this movie on TV, I was never fond of the animation or the story - but having completed my Disney 3D collection, I knew it was time to branch out. The stylistic nature of this film really shines in 3D, and the animation doesn't look low-budget like it sometimes does in the 2D version. The 3D effect is used in gimmicky situations more than other more 'sophisticated' titles, but in a world created by Dr. Suess, it makes so much sense and adds even more fun and whimsy to the film. My grumpy thirty-something year old boyfriend hated the songs, but there are only four (3 1/2, really) compared to Frozen's tedious nine, and even though I was skeptical at the beginning of each number, by the end I was humming along and curious if I could find them on digital music retailer sites (I could!). This film turned out to be a hidden gem for me and while I will probably never willingly watch it in 2D, I can't WAIT to watch it in 3D again - it was truly engineered for the format and was done so with a lot of love and care to the source material. It's not going to be your favorite animated 3D film, but you'll be happy you picked it up.