The Lorax sees Despicable Me director, Chris Renaud, take on one of Dr Seuss’ most morally relevant books with an all star voice cast featuring Zac Efron, Danny DeVito and Betty White. Although it may serve as undemanding fun for younger viewers, it feels somewhat hollow – lacking any real emotional conviction.
In The Lorax, we follow a young boy as he searches for the one thing that will enable him to get the girl of his dreams. That one thing is a tree – this proves more challenging than it sounds as his hometown of Thneedville is completely void of all nature – a town where even air is sold for profit. On his quest, he is told the story of The Lorax, a creature sent to protect the trees.
Visually, The Lorax stays true to the Seussian style with instantly recognisable character design and imagery. The animation and visual design are flawless boasting a vast array of dazzlingly bright colours and well crafted set pieces. Unfortunately, the abundance of these set pieces from scooter chases to bed frame river rapids, means that there is far too much going on, resulting in The Lorax become a frantic, unfocused ride.
Despite managing to stay true to Seuss’ original designs, Renaud’s film lacks the subtle moral punch of Seuss’ original source material. As the author himself stated “kids can see a moral coming a mile off” and this big budget, major studio produced adaptation is the equivalent of being repeatedly smacked in the face by a sledgehammer of morals. Although The Lorax is promoting a positive message about how we should care for our environment, it is lacking in any real conviction, simply feeling a slightly phoney. This is not helped by the fact that The Lorax retains very little of Seuss’ witty original dialogue.
There is enough fun and energy in The Lorax, for it to be classed as a redeeming watch. The toe-tapping opening number, Thneedville, is just one of John Powell & Cinco Paul’s catchy, well crafted musical sequences. It is hard not to appreciate this fun opening, thrusting us into the loveably fun world of Dr. Seuss. There are also several laughs from the overly cutsie Seussian animal characters including marshmallow addicted bears and a barbershop trio of fish.
The superb vocal performances inject a sense of credibility and energy into The Lorax. Danny DeVito’s underused title character, provides a grouchy but loveable charm to the proceedings. Zac Efron and Taylor Swift deliver impressive turns as the eager young characters, discovering the importance of nature. Of course, there is also a little bit of Betty White and I defy anyone who does not love Betty White.
The Lorax is likely to prove a hit with younger viewers due to its colourful visual style, catchy songs and sweet gags. Older viewers may feel less enthusiastic and are likely to be slightly cynical of the moral message forced upon us throughout.
UK Release Date: 19th November 2012 (UK)
Directors: Chris Renaud & Kyle Balda
Stars: Danny DeVito, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift ,Betty White
Buy The Lorax: DVD / Blu-ray / Triple Play (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD)