The Lorax

This is just... creepy to me. I'll explain why below.
"He speaks for the trees."

Hey gang! today as threatened earlier in the week, I will be talking about The Lorax, a full length movie based on the animated Seussian musical of '72/children's book about not killing the environment. This film follows the same basic premise, only with a few changes to the basic premise. Namely, the Once-ler (voiced by Ed Helms) is only half of the story, told in flashback form. The other story is about Ted (Zac Efron, yuck) who wants to romance Audrey, and figures the only way to do it is to get her a real tree (in his city there are no real trees). Audrey by the by is voiced by Taylor Swift, and I'll address that further later in the post. So Ted leaves town and finds the Once-ler, who is supposedly the only person who knows where trees might be. The Once-ler tells the story of how he made some really stupid thing called a Thneed out of Truffula trees against the urgings of the Lorax, who if you didn't know speaks for the trees. He does this in the voice of Danny DeVito, and when I talk about things in this movie I found odd and unsettling, we'll address that too. Long story short, the Once-ler told the Lorax to get bent, and then paved over the Earth to get rich, but at some point became a creepy smelly hermit. Ted vows to use the last Truffula seed to replant a tree, but the short asshole who rules the town's industry wants to stop him, so he can sell bottled air to people. Antics ensue, and also there is some singing.

At least there are lots of cute bears.
That's all well and good, but there are problems inherent. For starters, This is a children's book/musical short that they tried to adapt to a full length movie. Even a kid's movie length is still reaching, and the movie does feel kind of thin in parts. The songs feel perfunctory, like they put them in just to pad out the run-time, or because the 70s animated version was a musical. It didn't really seem like there heart was in it, and that's too bad, because I like animated stuff with music. Actually that brings me to another weird aspect of the movie, which would be Taylor Swift, and her complete non-involvement in the music. Actually, virtually every other person who offers a voice in this movie sings at least a few bars, but not Taylor Swift. That suggests to me some sort of weird contract wibbling, because come on, if you want to sell the public on saving trees, who better to front your cause than a pretty blonde girl with an acoustic guitar? I guess they couldn't afford it though.

Gotta pay the troll toll if you want into
this boy's hole.
Finally we come to the issue of Mr. DeVito. Now I know that in real life he's actually a good guy. Fun fact, he reprised his role as the Lorax in four other languages (Spanish, Italian, Russian and German wow) I think that is a really cool thing of him to do. The problem is that I just have a tough time thinking of him as the sort of weird but cute Lorax, protecting trees and trying to redeem the industrial excesses of man. What I think of is like, The Penguin in Batman Returns. I think occasionally of his role in Twins..or Junior with Ahnold. Also a little bit the cartoon cat in Last Action Hero. Most of all however, I think of him as Frank Reynolds from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and that is a deeply troubling image to marry to a children's movie with an underlying environmental theme.

In the end it is unfortunate that there is a sense of naked reckless commercialism to a movie based on a work that more or less opposed naked, reckless commercialism. It wasn't that it was a bad movie, it just was sort of flat for me. Critics had a pretty mixed reaction to it as well, more or less declaring that it was serviceable. Despite that lukewarm attitude, the movie grossed like dynamite, reeling in 348 million dollars against a 70 million dollar budget that I have to figure is part of why Taylor Swift is mute whenever people start singing. I assume plenty of people enjoyed it for it to do so well, but I just came away wishing it had been something a little more... I don't know enthusiastic?

That's all for today, join me next week for more animated fun! Or maybe Red Dawn, we'll see how I'm feeling.

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