Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax: An IMAX 3D Experience

Tree Huggers

Rated: PG Brief mild language.
Release Date: March 2, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 26 mins

Director:  Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda
Writers: Ken Daurio, Coinco Paiul, based on the book by Dr. Seuss
Cast:  Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Betty White, Rob Riggle

SYNOPSIS: For Ted to win the affection of the girl he likes, he must find a tree outside the metropolis of Thneedville. In order to do so, he must hunt down a hermit industrialist to tell him the tale of The Lorax, The Guardian of the Forest in a world where natural foliage no longer exists.

REVIEW: Chris Renaud, the director of Despicable Me and its upcoming sequel, takes on the colorful task of bringing another tale of the good Dr. Seuss to life on the big screen. Although The Lorax was brought to animated life as a short television cartoon by Dr Seuss and Eddie Albert in 1972, screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul (Hop, Despicable Me, Horton Hears a Who!) develop a longer version for the big screen of theaters and the bigger screens of an IMAX 3D Experience.
In Thneedville, young 12-year-old Ted (Zac Efron, New Year's Eve) pines away for the affection of neighbor Audrey (Taylor Swift, Valentine's Day). One day, while coming up with an excuse to see her, she invites him in to show him her mural on the back of her house covered with strange designs - trees! Realizing that Audrey would appreciate him more if he gave her a tree, Ted asks his mother (Jenny Slate, This Means War) and Grammy Norma (Betty White, The Proposal) about where he should start his search. Grammy tells Ted the myth that a man named the Once-Ler (Ed Helms, The Hangover: Part 2) that could lead him to a tress. Once Ted leaves the confines of the walled Thneedville, he enters a wasteland of smog, spoiled rivers, and tree stumps that leads to a dilapidated building with a disgruntled and regretful Once-Ler. Once there, the Once-Ler, with only his green gloved hands and shadowed face, slowly regals Ted with the tale of his arrival to a plush forested, animal filled valley and the events that lead to the arrival of the Lorax (Danny DeVito, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and the destruction of all of the trees of the forest.

The Lorax, from the original book to the short television cartoon to this Spring's big screen version, is a statement of environmentalism and mindless capitalism. The Lorax is the ultimate tree hugger as the spirits of the earth summon him after the Once-Ler chops down his first tree for the leaves he needs to create his Thneed, the 'thing that everyone needs'. Emerging from the felled tree's stump, the Lorax communes with the other forest animals and warns the Once-Ler that if he continues to decimate the forest with his ax he will be cursed to the end of his days. But in these days of short attention spans and desensitization, simple deforestation for the advance of the almighty dollar is not enough. In The Lorax, Ted and all the citizens of Thneedville face another challenge. Because of the lack of trees and foliage, smog and poor air quality has led to the success of the bottled and in-home air market in the form of O'Hare Air, the brainchild of man-child Mr. O'Hare (Rob Riggle, Big Miracle). When his multiple Big Brother cameras find Ted repeatedly stealing out of town to hear the Once-Ler's story, Mr O'Hare worries that the boy will ruin his plans for continued wealth by finding one remaining tree that could provide air for free.

Dreamworks, the studio that created Hop and Despicable Me, does a beautiful job at recrafting the world of Dr. Seuss.  The Humming fish are spot-on, the teddy bearlike Bar-ba-Loots furry and fluffy, the birds lanky and feathered. Even the woolly, swirly striped Truffala trees look like they sprung directly from the page to a colorful 3D artwork.  Like Horton Hears a Who! before it, The Lorax is a vibrant, colorful, faithful representation of what Seuss originally penned to paper as words and illustrations.

One of the major differences between Horton Hears a Who! and The Lorax is the music. In The Lorax, the story opens with a musical number outlining the type of town Thneedville is - with concrete, towering structures, blow-up bushes and battery-powered trees with light globes instead of leaves. Ed Helms lends his specific musical style, a la The Office and The Hangover, to the young Once-ler with his electric guitar strapped to his back and a doop-de-do on his lips. Other than the end credit song and the hard rappy 'How bad Can I Be?', the soundtrack songs fall a little flat for anyone older than a 4-year child.

The Lorax was a doom and gloom environmentalist's tale released as a children's book years before tree hugging became vogue. Industrialized society and selfish corporate materialistic greed run rampant in the film, a plot that is a little heavy-handed for a film supposedly geared to children. Even Ewan MacGregor's Robots turned their adult message into something more farcical for the children's enjoyment. Crisp and detailed, The Lorax is faithful to Seuss' source material. Unfortunately, that faithfulness, and the addition of equally heavy subject matter, works against the success of the film.

WORTH: Rental

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