The Lorax: In Tree-D (2012)

Posted: January 23, 2013 in Animated, Comedy, Family

the-lorax-posterIn the walled city of Thneed-Ville, the people live in an environment covered in plastic. Everything from the trees to the grass are manufactured and people by clean air by the bottle. Never questioning their existence, the people idolize their provider of plastic, Mr. O’Hare. Not concerned with anything that is not about the love of his life, Ted finds every excuse possible to get her attention. When he learns that she has a love of trees, he goes on a hunt to find her one. This leads him to sneak out of town, to an area beyond the walls, to find the person called the Once-ler. Stumbling upon the dark home in the middle of a barren land, Ted begins to learn the story about how a once flourishing landscape was stripped of its Truffula trees. As he begins to raise suspicion from the greedy Mr. O’Hare, Ted finds himself in danger of losing the chance to achieve his goal of finding a Truffula tree and stealing a kiss from Audrey.

Starring: Danny DeVito (The Lorax), Ed Helms (The Once-ler), Zac Effron (Ted), Taylor Swift (Audrey), Betty White (Grammy Norma), Rob Riggle (Mr. O’Hare), Jenny Slate (Ted’s mom), Nasim Pedrad (Once-ler’s mom), Danny Cooksey (Brett/Chet), Elmarie Wendel (Aunt Grizelda)

In this colorful animated feature, an equally colorful cast of characters was pulled together. Taking the role of the lead character was the memorable DeVito. While he appears to be overly kooky at first glance, DeVito brings a more reserved sense to the protector of the trees. Helms, on the other hand, expresses a rather colorful personality between musical interludes and random commentary. Effron keeps a rather naive element which adds to the film’s message of awareness and openness to change. Providing quite a bit of the comedic elements, White and Riggle mirror the quirkiness with the human characters that can be seen with the animals.

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While Horton Hears a Who was not the best adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s stories and the live-action The Cat in the Hat with Mike Myers was absolutely absurd, Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda attempted to take this environmentally-themed story and bring it to life. The story expands on Seuss’s version of the story by going further in-depth with the Thneed-Ville way of life and the use of the relationship between Ted and Audrey as a catalyst for diving into the story about the fall and rebirth of the Truffula trees. While Mr. O’Hare was profiting on the destruction left by the Once-ler, the former producer of the Thneed regretted his decisions and appreciated the arrival of a curious youth. Telling his story to Ted gave him the confidence to put his faith in the bright-eyed boy to protect the last Truffula seed and bring trees back to the land.

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This film has a fairly clear agenda in respect to the environment. While the Lorax forbade the Once-ler from chopping down the trees, he seemed to be okay with harvesting the leaves in support of his dreams. It was not until the Once-ler’s family barged in and expanded the production that the Lorax had nearly given up hope on the young dreamer. Turning attention to the city, Mr. O’Hare was profiting off of selling air in a bottle, which seems to be a commentary on the rise of selling water in bottles. And with a world covered in plastic and walls to block out the outside world, the city does its best to distract people from realizing what their lifestyle had done to the environment. The film does hit viewers over the head with the sustainability message but surprisingly not on the side of solutions but rather on the side effects of poor environmental decisions.

The film is cute but sometimes falls victim to a lack of focus, particularly during scenes including the Barbaloots, Swammy Swans and Humming Fish. The environmental message is very strong and seems out of focus with various moments of the story.

Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5

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