We all love the story of the plump, orange creature who speaks for the trees, and I am sorry to say that our little mustached friend from childhood will not join Simba, Woody, or the squeaky yellow minions as one of our favorite animated heroes. The Lorax is not one of those films that pretends to be for children but is really loved by all. Those over the age of seven are unlikely to be amused by the corny dialogue, drawn out scenes, and awkwardly inserted musical numbers.
The film presents an entirely new backstory not present in the book. A young boy, Ted, from Thneedville—a town devoid of anything natural where the trees are remote controlled and citizens must purchase fresh air to breathe—wants to impress a girl by finding her a real tree. He embarks on a journey to find the Once-ler, who tells him the story of how he chopped down every Truffula tree and how the Lorax tried to save the forest. The Once-ler holds one last Truffula seed, which he gives to Ted to plant. The villain of the tale is Mr. O’Hare, the man who sells air and does all he can to stop Ted from bringing back trees, which contain oxygen that would bring his business down.
The voices of Zac Efron, Betty White, Danny DeVito, and Taylor Swift could not make the words coming from their characters’ mouths any more interesting. The dialogue did not come close to matching the wit of other Dr. Seuss films like How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and the jokes often felt forced and out of place.
The film seemed confused about the kind of world it wanted to create. The characters felt trapped between a whimsical, Suessical universe and a more colloquial one where everyday chatter and phrasing is used. It would have helped to keep them firmly planted in the former.
The strong environmentalist theme—intensified in the movie more than the book—truly is a great way to help children get excited about the environment. Much of the negative sentiment out there associated with this film, however, comes from the fact that all of the additions and sub-plots cloud the overall message. I wholeheartedly agree. None of the new and over embellished pieces of the film will ever compare to the simple, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” I suggest sticking to the original on this one.