I went and saw the new Lorax movie in 3D yesterday. And while it was visually quite stunning, I’m not sure if it message of the movie coincided with the message of the book. Here are some more of my thoughts.
The movie is visually spectacular. Watching in, what feels like, HD you can really see how stunning it is. You feel like you’re able to reach out and feel the silky texture of Truffula Trees. The Bar-ba-loots (bears), Swamme-Swans (birds) and the Humming Fish are all adorable and cute and make you want one. The 3D elements weren’t over powering or scary, and done in a tasteful manner.
The story of the Lorax is one of conservation and preservation, and I don’t think the movie does a great job of spreading that message. To make a 20+ page picture book last more than an hour, there had to be some kind of backstory. In the Lorax book we never really meet the character that the Once-ler is talking to, but in the movie we meet Ted Wiggins.
Ted, voiced by Zak Efron, is a middle schooler and your normal boy in Thneed-ville. We learn about Ted and Thneed-ville and the evil and comically sized Mr.O’Hare who sells the town fresh air, since there are no more trees to produce it on their own. Ted is in love with Audrey, a tall redhead voiced by Taylor Swift.
One of the first things that bothered me about this movie is that Ted’s main reason to see the Once-ler is to get a Truffula tree for Audrey. That’s right, a story about the importance of saving your environment is prefaced only because a boy wants to impress a girl. I feel this completely undermines the entire message of the story.
So we flip between Ted’s story and the Once-ler’s story, and Ed Helm (voiced by Andy from the Office) does a great job as the Once-ler. As that story progresses we eventually meet the Lorax. Arriving from the stump of a felled Truffula Tree, the Lorax (voiced by Danny Devito) arrives. I do not think Devito was the right choice for the voice of the Lorax, he comes off too harsh and condescending, whereas I always pictured the Lorax to be wise and stoic.
Since this is a children’s movie, it has to have entertainment value for them. So there are lots of physical comedy parts in which Bar-ba-loots and the Lorax take part in. It’s cute and funny yes, but again, changes the characters into less serious roles. It’s hard to believe that the Lorax is the protecter of the trees and the animals when he’s eating marshmallows and pancakes with the Once-ler.
Instead of the typical rhyming nature of Seuss, we get songs. Again, I understand it’s a kids movie, but I think that the tone could have been altered if the actual text from the story had been used. There are 4 or 5 big song and dance numbers throughout the movie and while catchy and what-have-you, it doesn’t really add much to the movie.
All-in-all, I think it was an okay movie. I don’t think that it will replace the book in schools as one of the best kids stories with a message. There would have been many places for improvement, and some core elements needed to be changed.
We still see what a world without nature is like and the how the power of capitalistic greed can change people. I just hope that the kids watching it will see that too. Or at least as much as a kid can understand of that.
The main quote from the movie “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not,” still remains and I think has an odd application to what’s going on now. With the recent exposure of Kony and that whole debate of whether or not it’s a worthy cause – can be answered with this quote. No matter whether you think that the Kony campaign will be successful, it is making people care an awful lot. So as long as it’s making people care and want to make a difference, then I think that’s a good thing.
But that’s just a side note. Back to the movie, if you like Seuss, go see it. If not, wait. If you think you might not like it, go read the book again, and then see what you can do to care a whole awful lot.