<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda. Starring Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Betty White.
Another tale from Dr Seuss’ books, this one is cute and fluffy, with a message about saving the environment that is far from subtle but one wonders if the kids of today will get it and become the tree huggers of tomorrow.
Like all of Dr Seuss’ tales you expect weird characters and otherworldly environments. In The Lorax what once was a beautiful landscape, filled with trees that look like candy floss and animals that look like they’re from Hamley’s stuffed toys department, was ruined by one man’s greed to sell his ‘thneed’ product. But when the last tree fell, the Once-Ler (Ed Helms) has no more raw material and is shunned. And because of his selfish deeds, there are no trees, no photosynthesis and so no fresh air. But the dastardly Mr O’Hare (Rob Riggle) builds an artificial town called Thneedville where he sells his packaged pure air, making a fortune.
But in this small town is a small boy with big dreams and a big crush. Ted (Zac Efron) wants to impress the older Audrey (Taylor Swift) who has never seen a real tree. So off he goes, beyond the barricaded boundaries of Thneedsville and against Mr O’Hare’s orders off to see the Once-Ler who his cool grandma Norma (Betty White) tells him knows about the trees.
And so the tale of how the environment was wiped out inspite of the efforts of the tree guardian, the Lorax (Danny DeVito), is told and a new hope for a new more nature-friendly town springs forth.
The Lorax doesn’t have much of a story apart from that. But what it does have is an amazing visual character. The animals, the people and the machines are all superbly crafted and exceedingly cute and distinctive. The singing gold fish, the teddy bears, Once-Ler’s mule and the Lorax are all just adorable.
And of course don’t forget the message: don’t cut trees just to make profit and you can’t reap what you don’t sow. The kids in the audience seemed to enjoy it in spite of its overt green message and song about greed and profit. The voice talent is okay, with Betty White’s grandma Norma standing out for her quick wit and sharp mind as well as her spunk.
Of course it’s by French director Chris Renaud (with lots of French crew assisting, hence the very quaint touches here and there), who also made Despicable Me, which was significantly better than this one. Still, The Lorax is the perfect short and sweet film for you and the kids or just for the kid in you.