Sunday, March 04, 2012

I am the Lorax. I speak for... well, Universal Studios, I guess.

I'm going to be a wet blanket on this one. I don't think a movie should have been made of Dr. Seuss's book, The Lorax. Remember the Lorax? Who "speaks for the trees, which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please"?  The folks responsible for Despicable Me made a movie of it.

That is, they churned out an uninspired, bland, predictable story to justify charging people to see a movie-length CGI production featuring some elements of the original. They call it "Dr. Seuss's" The Lorax, but it isn't really. It's hard to imagine that Dr. Seuss would've been down with the idea of Lorax-based merchandising. 

the original
I was planning to refuse to see it out of principle; then the Peanut was invited to a Lorax birthday party, so as long as she was going to see it, the Bean wanted to, and I was kind of stuck. 

So here's what it is. Thneedville is a walled community without trees, where fresh air is supplied by a corporation run by an evil little man and his thugs. Nobody minds. Our hero is a kid who loves a girl who paints pictures of trees on her house and dreams of seeing a real one. To win her affection, he goes off to find her a tree, and locates the Once-ler, who in intermittent flashbacks tells the story of what happened to them.

It's boring. They made The Lorax boring. There's very little of the original text in the script, and a lot of nothing added to fill time. Betty White (voicing the hero kid's Grandma) and Danny DeVito (voicing the title role), Zac Efron and Taylor Swift, cool as they are, didn't wow me. 

Adding to the wretchedness:  it has songs. The young Once-ler carries around an electric guitar, and now this is a musical.

They took The Lorax, stripped it of its simplicity, wisdom, and wit, added flat, stock characters and music not worthy of a good advertisement, threw in some obligatory cute animal bits, and spat it back out at a public ready to open their wallets. Universal Studios hasn't missed a trick - the movie contains several sequences that will make great rides in their theme parks.

Remember the villain played by Ken Jeong in Furry Vengeance? Basically the same villain here. Remember Alvin and the Chipmunks? Add fins, and you got yourself some Humming-Fish. Thneedville with its bottled air is not unlike the spaceship carrying everyone around in Wall-E. I don't think there's an original angle in this whole film.

If you see it, you won't have a horrible time. It's not actively unpleasant (except for the singing, gah!). You might even like it. My problem comes from setting the bar too high -- from believing that anyone who really read and understood this story, with its message about conservation and corporate greed, would never turn it into something as vapid and forgettable as this, let alone stamp Loraxes on stuff and go "biggering and biggering and biggering and biggering." In an arrangement that busts the irony meter into tiny outraged splinters, this Lorax is now being used to sell cars. I am the Lorax! I speak for the Mazdas!

It's the height of cynicism to have done this, and I hope it's a colossal failure.


  1. The movies not good
    Not good as it should

    But go as you must
    Lest you self become dust

    Dry and flaky
    Old and achy

    Let yourself laugh chortle with glee
    But into your pants do not pee

    Remain young and groovy
    Don’t overthink the movie

    I loved Green Eggs, Oobleck I lived for,Horton was the best. Thing 1 and Thing 2. Dr. Seuss was my favorite over 50 years ago, I think it is the reason I loved to read, and apparently is the reason why you have jumped back into your blog.

  2. Oobleck is excellent. The Peanut's 2nd grade teacher has the class make it on Dr. Seuss day... cornstarch + water + green coloring. Good times.

  3. I am SO with you on this one. I told Bing just a few days ago that if Liv wants to see it, SHE gets to take her. And not because I didn't love this book. I did. A lot. I just don't like how you see that fucking Lorax everywhere on tons of merchandise. I'm with you. Dr. Seuss would have NEVER let this happen.

  4. Beyond cynicism, I think, bordering on hubris. I will not be seeing this and had already decided not to do so before I read your review. I just don't see the point in taking brilliant literature and making it cinematic pablum.

  5. The Lorax is a great movie that kids enjoy. Quit analyzing it and just enjoy the kids enjoy the damn movie.

  6. Wait, what shall I enjoy... the kids, or the damn movie?

    Oh, anonymous comments... always so well-expressed.