With the country becoming more and more polarized, the upcoming release of "The Lorax" had the potential to take Dr. Seuss' famous kid-friendly environmental fable and turn it into an informative and entertaining tale about keeping all things in moderation.
Yeah ... not so much.
The film version does away with subtlety entirely. Residents of "Thneedville" live in ignorant bliss in a climate-controlled dome city monitored by a pint-sized fascist business tycoon named O'Hare (voiced by Rob Riggle). They're sheltered from the outside world, which has been rendered a wasteland by the over-industrialism of the Once-ler (Ed Helms).
On the other side of things is the Lorax, who we meet through flashbacks as the Once-ler tells his story to Ted (Zac Efron), a boy determined to find a Truffula tree for his crush, Audrey (Taylor Swift). The Lorax (Danny DeVito) "speaks for the trees," as fans of the book know, and he and his cuddly woodland creature buddies do make for some light-hearted entertainment.
Within the black-and-white battle between industry and the environment are a number of distracting, yet colorful, side scenes. While common for a kids' movie, the number here borders on excessive and includes a few excruciatingly cheesy musical numbers that really don't need to be there.
The people behind the adaptation do deserve some credit, though. They managed to take a simple kids' book and turn it into an even more simplified kids' movie perfectly suited for mass feature film consumption.
Like the city of Thneed-ville, "The Lorax" is an over-processed parody mocking its largely passive, ignorant population. Keeping it simple is a necessity to keep a kid's attention for an hour and a half, but this thinly-veiled commentary lacks common sense even today's newest generation could grasp.
Why didn't the Once-ler just start replanting trees in the first place? He's supposed to be a savvy and innovative businessman. Why don't the Thneedville-ites wonder why their city is completely walled in? According to Ted's grandmother (token grandma character Betty White) her generation still had trees. Don't they care about getting them back? Isn't anyone interested in what's going on outside the city?
There are too many questions poking holes in this parable. Most importantly, "The Lorax" glosses over whether the people learned anything at all. They just pop out another musical number and destroy their city's entire infrastructure. There's no mention of balance or sustainability, and the audience is left with what conservative critics insist the original book version was – adorably packaged anti-industrial propaganda.
"The Lorax" isn't worth seeing in theaters, and certainly not in "Tree-D," as the ads say. Kids who are small enough to just want to see it for the fluffy animals can wait for the DVD, and kids who are old enough to absorb some of the takeaways are better off reading the book and getting a parental lesson in finding middle ground.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Renee Lorenz
Published Jan. 11, 2013
Classic gangsters loved a good embarrassment of riches. And for a movie like "Gangster Squad," showing off is fine. But, when the swanky style of the era meets the stylized swank of the movie's own excesses, things get out of hand.
Published Jan. 3, 2013
It feels like not a week goes by without someone posting something about how Facebook's invading everyone's privacy, spying on your browser history, etc., ad nauseum. (These posts are usually made on Facebook, by the way.) I understand the generic concern over the Orwellian slippery slope, but it doesn't take me too long to re-assess and arrive back at my old conclusion: Who cares?
Published Dec. 31, 2012
Although outsiders may not see Milwaukee as a hotbed for the performing arts, locals know there's plenty of talent to go around. And, there are numerous venues across the city that proudly show off area actors, dancers and musicians. But, despite the wide array of opportunities available, Katie Rhyme and Karen Zakrzewski still felt something important was missing.
Published Dec. 25, 2012
Merry Christmas, "Les Miz" lovers - I'm about to hate all over your musical.
Published Dec. 25, 2012
Well, it took director Quentin Tarantino 20 years, but he finally got his Western ... kinda. Although it's fair to say he's been preparing his entire career with his raucously bloody shoot-'em-ups, Tarantino's time warming up has been well spent if "Django Unchained" is the final result
Published Dec. 21, 2012
Unlike most middle-aged men, Judd Apatow can afford a whole garage of Camaros and Mustangs. So, it makes sense that his mid-life crisis would manifest not with a youthful car buy, but by splurging on the production of a new movie.
Published Dec. 19, 2012
They say time flies when you're having fun. I don't know who "they" are (probably those terrifyingly upbeat "glass half full" people), but they nailed it. My 2012 is a blur of exciting times and memorable moments, most of which my lawyers have advised me not to discuss in detail. There's still plenty to talk about, though, and I've shared the highlights below.
Published Dec. 18, 2012
Well, another year of movies is (almost) in the books. Full of many memorable ups and seared-in-my-brain-forever downs, here's my take on the best (and worst) of 2012.
Published Dec. 14, 2012
Eleven years after "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" introduced audiences to the majesty of director Peter Jackson's Middle-earth, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" makes a triumphant return to the mythical land with a new trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit."
Published Dec. 12, 2012
After being tasked with putting together an actual wish list, I'm legitimately afraid of the death glare I'll get if I hand over my ultra-practical, completely un-whimsical list of stuff I want. So, I'm posting it here.