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Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
Directors: Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda
Writers: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul, Dr. Seuss
Voice Cast: Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Taylor Swift, Zac Efron, Betty White, Rob Riggle, Jenny Slate, Nasim Pedrad, Joel Swetow, Michael Beattie, Dave B. Mitchell, Dempsey Pappion, Elmarie Wendel, Danny Cooksey, Stephen Tobolowsky, Chris Renaud, Jack Angel, Bob Bergen, John Cygan, Debi Derryberry, Bill Farmer, Jess Harnell, Sherry Lynn, Danny Mann, Mona Marshall, Mickie McGowan, Laraine Newman, Jan Rabson, Claira Nicole Titman, Jim Ward
Synopsis: A 12-year-old boy searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for brief mild language
The Original Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.
Arguably one of the better Dr. Seuss' big screen adaptations ever made. I remember as a child that I used to love reading Dr. Seuss books. In fact, some of my favorite books by Dr. Seuss were "Cat in the Hat", "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", "Green Eggs and Ham", and "Horton Hears a Who." Granted, I did read a few more of his stories as a child, but these are just the ones that I remember the most fondly. Needless to say, Dr. Seuss played a very big part of my childhood, but it's been a bit ironic considering I've had mixed feelings about many of the recent big screen adaptations.
With Jim Carey's "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", I honestly didn't care for it when it was released. Mainly because the pop culture references were unnecessary, and the overall film was mediocre at best; while doing little to no justice to the original book. Don't get me wrong, I know when it comes to a big screen adaptations that changes are always expected, but it should never be to the point that it compromises the heart of the original story. Sadly, I found Jim Carey's "Grinch" not only disrespectful to the original source, but also didn't care for how Jim Carey took one of my early childhood characters, and turned him into an annoying asinine clown that I wish would sooner drop dead.
And, please don't even get me started on Mike Myers' "Cat in the Hat", as that film was just straight up horrible. If anyone brings it up, then I'll just tell you the same damn thing that Mike Myers said in the movie. To quote Mike himself, "I'll get you, and I'll make it look like an accident." By the way, I'm joking for those that can't tell. Sorry, I have a bit of a warped sense of humor sometimes.
However, I loved the animated movie, "Horton Hears a Who", as it not only did the original book justice, but I liked the chemistry between Jim Carey and Steve Carell. Plus, the animation in that movie captured the original surrealistic style of the book perfectly. Needless to say, my opinions on all the Dr. Seuss film adaptations are a bit mixed to say the least.
Luckily though, it seems that "The Lorax" is one of those rare Dr. Seuss' adaptations that actually seems to get it right. Granted, like most film adaptations, there were some liberties taken with the original story. However, the changes they made actually made the film still worth watching, and the surrealistic style of the movie matches the original feel of the book perfectly. Before I go into the story, I want to first talk about the animation of this movie.
Like "Horton Hears A Who", I can't say enough good things about it, as the surrealistic style of the animation is very well done, and matches the feel of the original story perfectly. Granted, there are some obvious changes. For instance, we actually do see what Once-Ler (Ed Helms) looks like; versus the original book where we never saw his face. In the book and cartoon special, this worked rather well to serve as a metaphor that Once-Ler could technically be anybody. He could be me, your boss, your friend, your next door neighbor, or even you. The point is that the character served more as metaphor for how we can all sometimes get so caught up in success that we often fail to see the bigger picture of how our actions hurt those around us.
In the original story, a twelve year old boy visits an elderly mysterious man called the Once-Ler, to find out what happened to all the Truffula Trees. As the book unfolds, we're taken back to Once-Ler's younger days when he's traveling through the woods, in his carriage wagon. Along the way, he can't help but notice the Truffula Trees, as the leaves are as soft as silk. He uses those leaves to create a thing called a "thneed." What's a "thneed" you may ask? Well it could be anything that you want it to be. It could be a glove, a hat, or even a shirt. Hell, it even makes for a good meal to eat, or you could use it for pillows and blankets. Again, like Once-Ler himself, the "thneed" was also an elaborate metaphor as well. To make a long story short, the Lorax (Danny DeVito) shows up to speak for the trees, as they cannot speak for themselves. Throughout the book, the Lorax pleas with Once-Ler to stop his business from cutting down more trees to make more "Thneeds", but he doesn't listen to the Lorax.
And the end result, we end up in a world without Truffula Trees, with the skies as dark as could be. However, the book ends on an uplifting note, as Once-Ler does seem like an old man that deeply regrets his selfish actions, and pleas to the boy to plant the last Truffula Tree seed. Although most children probably won't pick up on metaphor at end, the message is quite clear if you look at it closely enough. The boy obviously represents the future generation, and Once-Ler represents the greedy old generation that cared about profit and selfish ambitions; rather than ever stopping to ask what kind of world they were leaving behind for the future. Although like many Dr. Seuss books, the message was portrayed in a rather abstract family friendly way, but the message still reigns true to this very day. Even as I write this review, various companies pollute the air, pollute our water, and destroy our environment each day; for the sake of making money. Do they care? No, they don't; hence the moral of the Lorax. To quote the book simply, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." For a children's book, it would be hard not to admit that's fairly deep.
As for the film, it follows the original quite well, but it expands on it quite a bit though. As I mentioned earlier, they actually do show Once-Ler's face this time, and he's given more of a back story; along with having a stronger connection with the Lorax, as they do become friends at some point in the movie. However, unlike the original book or TV special, Once-Ler's story is only part of a bigger one, and he's not the main focus of the film itself. No, the twelve year old boy named Ted (Zac Efron) is. I won't divulge too much about his story, as I wouldn't want to spoil it for readers. However, Ted lives in a world that no longer has trees, and people are forced to pay for air, to breath. I know it's a hard reality to swallow, but this is the world that Ted grows up in. Due to a series of events, he seeks the mysterious Once-Ler to find out what happened to all the Truffula Trees. After Once-Ler tells his whole story to the boy, the real adventure of the film begins. To quote the Lorax at the beginning of the film, what you read in the book isn't the entire story. Indeed, this film plays on that concept quite well.
The film still manages to convey the same powerful message that made the original story such a classic. Granted, the environmental message this film tries to convey may come off as overly preachy to some people. However, if you've read the book or seen the original TV special, then you'll know that the film does a wonderful job recapturing that same deep message that the original story had; while expanding on it's original concept even more.
In the end, I would definitely have to give this movie a three out of four. In spite of it's mixed reviews, "The Lorax" ranks as one of the best family films of 2012 in my book.