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THE LORAX – Movie Review

I grew up reading Dr. Seuss books, from classics like The Cat in the Hat, to more offbeat ones like Hop on Pop and Go Dog Go.  One book I didn’t read quite as much as the others was The Lorax.  That being said, I had mild interest in the new animated adaptation, as I think Seuss’ stories have the potential of translating into fun family films.  However, while it isn’t a bad adaptation (looking at you, The Cat in the Hat), it’s so painstakingly mediocre.

The film is set in the city of Thneedville, where everything is artificially made and air is sold to the citizens.  A young boy who lives there, Ted (voice of Zac Efron), wants to impress a friendly neighborhood crush, Audrey (voice of Taylor Swift).  Her lifelong dream is to see a real tree, so Ted sets off to meet the mysterious Once-ler (voice of Ed Helms), who allegedly knows a lot about trees, and remembers a time when they were still around.  Ted supposes that he can help him find a tree, fulfilling Audrey’s dream, while ultimately making a meaningful difference in their city.

My main issue with The Lorax is one that I won’t harp on too much, being that I’m not the target audience.  However, the plot is so formulaic, standard, and uninspired.  Some scenes didn’t even try, lacking stakes and giving convenient, lazy plot points to get characters to the next part of the story.

Also, the film balances two stories: one about Ted trying to impress Audrey, the other told by the Once-ler, about the time when trees were still around.  This makes the main focus of the story really inconsistent, and I wasn’t clear as to whose story the movie actually was.

There’s also an environmental message to the film about the importance of preserving nature.  This is a great message, but The Lorax delivers it in an unsubtle, heavy-handed manner, spoon-feeding the audience as to what they are supposed to feel.

There are some good aspects to the film, however.  The voice cast is pretty strong, namely the work from Ed Helms as the Once-ler, playing old and young versions of him, differentiating between them seamlessly.  However, the scene-stealer is easily Danny DeVito as the Lorax, the protector of the trees.  His character is funny, charming, and he is perfectly cast in the role.

The animation is also gorgeous, capturing the Dr. Seuss sense of youth incredibly well.  There’s popping colors, cute characters, and good-looking environments.

Overall, kids will most likely enjoy the film, while adults won’t as much.  This isn’t a terrible animated movie, but it isn’t terribly memorable either.

FINAL RATING: 2.5/5

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