Watching The Lorax is like having an environmental activist shove a lifetime of petitions down your throat. The main difference is the activist probably wouldn’t be singing some fairly catchy songs at the same time. The Lorax is the perfect film for Danny DeVito, who in a recent interview about his career, went on a twenty minute tangent about his electric car. It’s alarming when you think the film feels like it’s trying to brainwash nine year olds into turning their ice cream containers into lunch boxes and old socks into cuddly toys. Save the environment is the message but the film is too fun; the message is likely to stick with the adults in an irritating way.
So let’s talk about the fun parts. There are colours everywhere and they’re vivid. From the Lorax’s orange fur to Thneedville’s fake everything the colours are mesmerising. When the original setting for Thneedville is discovered, it steps up a notch and adds in the cute animals which squash any doubts about this being made by the guys behind Despicable Me. At least they’ve stayed true to the original story by Dr Seuss. The extra parts are tiny bits of the book filled out, like Ted’s character and Thneedville. The designs of the animals are the same as the book and the fish hum in a bizarre barber shop quartet style. The big winner for the kids is Pipsqueak, the adorable tiny Bar-ba-loot who squeaks his way through some mishaps sparking coos from not only the children but the adults in the audience as well. Then there’s the singing. It’s not an over exaggeration to say that less than thirty seconds have passed before the first song starts. They’re catchy enough but it seems a bit pointless to have Taylor Swift and Zac Efron as cast members when they don’t actually get to sing, rather like Idina Menzel in Enchanted.
There is one very annoying thing about the film though and that’s seeing the Once-ler’s face. During his story it’s necessary to see his young face but never the old. The illustrations in the book only ever show two eyes and some green hands and it was a letdown that the filmmakers decided to show his aged face at the end. Part of the mystery of the Once-ler is whether he’s human or not but that’s trampled on for the sake of the film. The other disturbing thing is the hammering of the environmental messages. Whilst the book has the same morals, the film has been cranked up several notches and proceeds to tell us that we’re terrible people consumed by consumerism through songs, the script and most alarmingly, Pipsqueak.
Overall, as long as you can get past the planet-sized morals in this, it’s an enjoyable film. Despite various additions it does stick to the original story so Seuss diehards shouldn’t be hugely offended by it and the kids will love it. It’s miles better than Horton Hears A Who and a great start for the summer of animation.