Beautifully rendered by Illumination Entertainment (the guys who made Despicable Me), the film has a lollypop visual style, vibrant enough to be savoured by those who lament the lack of variation found in today’s animated movies.
Dr. Seuss’ stories have made hit and miss transitions to the big screen, ranging from the passable Horton Hears a Who, to the unlikable How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the horrible The Cat in the Hat. However The Lorax has been made by director Chris Renaud with the loving care of a dedicated fanboy, not once resorting to the clichéd pop culture references found in most animation films. Renaud has merged cues from the best Disney features and Pixar short films and come up with a wonderful mix of the partly zany, partly serious, partly slapstick sing-song, and fully entertaining film for both kids and the bigger kids.
We’re introduced to the town of Thneedville where everything is adorned in the artificial plastic, and the people never venture to the strange wasteland beyond the city borders. The 12-year-old Ted (Zac Efron) has a thing for his neighbor Audrey (Taylor Swift), and when she tells him that she’d fall for the guy who finds her a real tree, he sets off outside town determined to get one. Upon his grandma’s advice, he visits a hermit named Onceler (Ed Helms), who tells him why there aren’t any trees around Thneedsville, and how he was responsible for their disappearance. Ted learns that it would take only the good deeds of a single person to turn things around and summon the guardian of the forest known as the Lorax (Danny DeVito).
Naturally the Lorax is a metaphor for a tree hugger and the film at times drives home the message of conserving trees, but while that may seem a little too preachy it is difficult not to be won over by the cute earnestness of the film. It helps that most characters are lovable, although the conniving corporate giant O’Hare is reminiscent of the Mayor from Cloudy with a chance of meatballs. The voice cast is fun, and there are dozens of laughs. Moreover, director Renaud doesn’t move the camera around too much, and offers you long, uncut shots, letting you look at and admire the gorgeous artwork and absorb it in.
There is little that is revolutionary about The Lorax, but it’s pleasant, and hard to dislike. It will probably be a bit more enjoyable on DVD, but since it is out in theaters you should watch it. In bright colorful 2D.