Thursday, March 8, 2012

"The Lorax" is Harmless

Three Stars

“The Lorax” isn’t the best animated movie out there. There’s the beautiful Japanese cartoon “The Secret World of Arrietty” out in theaters now. That’s worth taking your kids to, though this isn’t a bad choice either. However, I am going to endorse this film because it has a message I do agree with. A lot of people have been whining that “The Lorax” has a political message, trying to brainwash children into caring about the environment. When did that become a bad thing? Yes, the Pixar film “Wall-E” does a better job with the same message, but this film doesn’t do too badly of a job either. The film opens up with the town of Thneed-Ville, a walled in city where the townspeople happily breath artificial air and have never seen an tree before. Ted Wiggins (Zac Efron), a 12 year old who is named after Dr. Suess’s real name Theodor, wants to impress the local high school girl named Audrey (Taylor Swift).  She is named after Dr. Suess’s widow.
She dreams of seeing a tree for the first time. With the encouragement of his grandmother (Betty White), Ted sets out from Thneed Ville to find the Once-ler (Ed Helms), a man who regrets creating a product that ended up chopping down all the trees. The most powerful man in town, the mayor (Rob Riggle), gets adrift of this and tries to stop him from succeeding.  Ted returns each day on his electric bike to hear the Once-ler tell him the story of how he didn’t listen to the Lorax (Danny DeVito) who keeps warning him that he shouldn’t chop down the forests and that he speaks for the trees.  

There’s some musical numbers in here that work fine. The jokes are hit and miss. Some of the pop culture references seem a little misplaced in this film. However, the animals are cute and the Lorax speaks for both them and the trees. The film doesn’t run too long at 94 minutes. There are some jokes that seem a little too political for a kid’s film, but things quickly resolve themselves. Any decent person wants the Lorax to succeed. I mean, a lot of film critics on the right have complained that this film is liberal propaganda. But I wanted this kid to succeed, with his crazy idea that trees should be protected. They even mention the word “photosynthesis” in this.

However, without sounding like an evil liberal, teaching your kids to respect and care about the environment isn’t a bad thing. The villain is an evil businessman who sells air, and once again, conservatives have complained that it is somehow liberal. A lot of movies have evil businessman as their villains. The book was originally published in 1971, and it makes sense that Dr. Seuss would base the theme around environmentalism. Those who know Dr. Seuss’s history know he was a political cartoonist before he wrote children’s books. The whole enterprise is ultimately harmless and cute. The 3-D works just fine and hey, maybe your kids can finally get excited over a camping trip, and nature instead of the newest video game coming out. There’s nothing wrong with that. So, I’ll just throw my hands up and give the film three stars. It’s not really worth going on a rant about. And to everyone trying to find a message beyond a cute story about protecting the environment, I say give a hoot, don’t pollute.


Dan O. said...

While the movie is funnier than the book, the drawback of this modernized version is that it loses the timeless quality of the story on the page. Still, I had a good time and it will definitely resonate well with plenty of adults and just about every kid imaginable. Great review Alec. It’s a lot better than Despicable Me though, or at least that’s what I thought.

alecwriter said...

Dan.O, thank you for commenting. I just read your blog. You're a really good writer as well. Keep doing a great job!