Preaching green you know what that means
Despicable them. The filmmakers responsible for the gratingly awful “The Lorax” must have thought the cute and fluffy characters that dominate their film adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic would make their hypocritical, heavy-handed propaganda easier to digest. Sorry guys, even though you’re the ones who brought us the delightfully witty “Despicable Me,” and made the perfectly acceptable “Horton Hears a Who,” this time you missed the mark.
Sure, the colorful visuals are a wonder. But many parents will be put off by the film’s distortion of Dr. Seuss’ cautionary tale about unbridled growth and smog – perfectly poignant when written in 1971 – turning it into a non-stop and frequently non-sensical rant against ambition, entrepreneurship, and that mother of all evils, corporate greed. Forget that such a topic nowadays is tired and clichéd. It’s even harder to bear this film’s message since TV viewers are being pummeled with merchandising tie-in commercials using characters from “The Lorax” to sell pancakes and ice cream for breakfast at IHOP, not to mention disposable diapers and Mazda SUVs.
Corporate greed, indeed.
Of course, the filmmakers had to take liberties in order to expand the good doctor’s original environmental parable into a feature length film. Enter lovelorn 12-year-old Ted (voiced by Zac Efron), who wants to win the affection of teenage Audrey (Taylor Swift). He ventures out on his powered unicycle (cool) past the plastic environs of Thneedville to find for her a “real” tree. Little Ted’s big adventure takes him to a mysterious hermit the “Once-ler” (Ed Helms), who recounts how the trees were killed off despite the warnings of the nature protector and fantastically-mustachioed title character (voiced lovably grumpily by Danny DeVito). The corporate villain (Rob Riggle) is more annoying than threatening.
Relentless slapstick (only occasionally funny), and big musical numbers (mostly forgettable) ensue. The frenetic pace and bright visuals might be enough to satisfy little ones, but the rest of the audience will feel beaten into submission by the film’s smug tone and irritatingly preachy attitude. Even those somewhat environmentally inclined will have to admit that the film’s basic premise –corporations want to kill trees – doesn’t ring true at any level.
In fact, “The Lorax” hits too many false notes to care two “Truffulas” about.
Rated PG for brief mild language.