Movie Review: “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax”

Written by Pam-Marie Gx March 07, 2012

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Ah The Lorax. A beloved children’s book by the most celebrated children’s book author ever, Dr. Seuss. Many of us grew up with this cautionary environmentalist tale, and the movie doesn’t stray too far from the original story. It’s the story of corporate greed, the ignorance of man, and dire warnings gone unheeded.

Now, before getting into the movie itself, I have to make a few comments on the casting. The casting could not have been any better. I can almost imagine a number of producers sitting in a room, discussing who to ask to be in this movie. Guy 1: “We need someone kinda crazy, really old, and also awesome.” Guy 2: “Betty White?” Guy 1: “Perfect! Now how about someone short with a kind of annoying voice?” Guy 2: “Umm… Danny DeVito?” Guy 1: “Genius! Now just get a couple of attractive young people and an awkward comedian and we’re good!”

There are a couple of points to make about the beginning of this movie. First, I am a big fan of the slightly unexpected big musical numbers, and this movie did not disappoint. Second, the parallels drawn between the bottled air industry and the bottled water industry are fantastic. The best comment made is that the making of the bottles produces more pollution, making more people need to buy the bottled commodity. It’s incredibly clever and fairly subtle, but the point is very clearly made.

Eventually our main protagonist, Ted (played by Zac Effron), gets talked into going to find a tree for the love of his life, Audrey (Taylor Swift). The second he gets out of town, we come to what is perhaps the most depressing scenery ever. The layout of the tree stumps almost make the entire world look like one vast cemetery, and the water is dark and bubbling in a way no water should. In contrast, the Once-ler (Ed Helms) talks about a world before the destruction, and the scenery quickly goes from dark and depressing to colourful and filled with adorable animals. The contrast serves to make these scenes even more beautiful, and the back-and-forth between present and past always seems to have this contrast in mind.

There are some rather ridiculous moments in the past. For example, when the Once-ler is unpacking, the animals see all of his shiny metal implements of destruction and appear to be genuinely angry with him. At this point, however, he bribes them with marshmallows. Actually, marshmallow bribing is a strangely recurring theme in The Lorax. They seem to be more like crackmallows or something. There are even scenes with the furry adorable bear-type things swimming in an imaginary ocean of these things. The only creature that seems to be immune to the natural seduction of the crackmallow is the Lorax, although he also appears to get some terrible mallow cravings.

Eventually the Once-ler sells his first Thneed and invites his family to help him make more. His family is comprised of the worst people ever. Every single one of them is a terrible human being, and they seem to infect him with their terribleness. The Once-ler becomes so consumed with greed that he actually starts dressing like a cross between a Pimp and The Riddler. He also sings a song that is supposed to justify his greed, but instead comes across more like one of the villain songs you see in so many Disney movies.

The movie actually made it somewhat difficult to feel bad for any characters other than the weird bear things and the other animals. The Lorax himself is often annoying and vague, not giving a clear idea of consequences other than “Bad stuff may or may not happen! Beware!” The Pimp/Riddler Once-ler loses our sympathy sometime around the time his family gets there, although his ambition was a rather ugly trait even before then. With the characters based in the present, they rarely seem to be in any real danger, and it’s pretty clear that they act more as a context for the other story.

There are a couple of other problems with The Lorax, other than how annoying Danny DeVito is. Ted’s mom (Jenny Slate) is also incredibly annoying, and only has one really great moment where she kicks the Villain out of her house. However, the other actors more than make up for the annoying ones, and the adorableness of the bear things cannot be denied.

Overall, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is a very well-done, entertaining family movie. The environmentalist message is fairly heavy-handed at times, but this is actually true to the book. What is sad is that the Lorax is, of course, correct. Environmental degradation is a big deal, and it is one that is often ignored until the area affected is beyond the point of no return. Like the Lorax, most environmentalists have a hard time getting their message across, let alone without sounding annoying or condescending. We often have a hard time imagining a world without trees. This movie shows us that world, and the devestating possible consequences of unchecked consumerism.

My Rating: 8/10

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About Pam-Marie Gx

Pam-Marie Gx

Reader, writer, student, movie-goer, drinker of rum - Pam-Marie is all these things, and more! She has a large appetite for both media and caffeine, and spends most of her time with some sort of electronic device close at hand. You can follow her on Twitter @PamMarieGx. She may even occasionally be amusing.

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