Sometimes 3D can ruin a movie’s excellence with too many objects jutting out into the audience’s faces, but that wasn’t the case with “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.”
In fact, almost everything that jumped off the screen only advanced the film’s appeal, which showed viewers that sincere thought and planning were put into the effects. With vibrant colors and impressive layers, there wasn’t much to hate about the little furry orange-and-yellow forest protector whose main interest is nature’s well-being.
Children in the audience oohed and ahhed at the young Once-ler’s guitar as it swung back and forth over the theater’s front four rows, and it was surprisingly easy for adults to tolerate his aged green-gloved hands waving in their faces any time main character Ted (Zach Efron) returned to his house for more Truffula tree history.
However, the most interesting aspect of this film for the older audience probably wasn’t the 3D or the fact that the Dr. Seuss story was extended into a full-length movie, but rather how it was lengthened. In order to accomplish this task, screenplay writers Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul had to give the narrow-minded Once-ler (Ed Helms) an actual background and storyline, which is recounted to Ted through flashbacks.
For the first time in Lorax history, viewers get to see a little bit of what happened before the greedy entrepreneur let his selfishness get the best of him. Unfortunately for the Lorax, as well as the viewers, that meant they had to turn the “fuzzy orange peanut” into a defenseless pacifist who undercuts his own values.
While using brutality or force, according to the Lorax, “isn’t the way it works” to get someone to quit an undesirable act, his moral undermining could have been avoided if the writers realized that physically carrying the Once-ler’s bed out to water and letting him drift away with the current isn’t really the way it works either.
Also, with the constant looming of Mr. O’Hare — the movie’s pint-sized villain who wants nothing more than to keep making money off bottled air that trees would otherwise make for free — and a girl (Audrey, voiced by Taylor Swift) being 12-year-old Ted’s main motivation to obtain a Truffula tree, it’s hard to determine if the characters even know why planting the seed is important in the first place. Sure, they drop the photosynthesis word right in the middle of the movie’s most important confrontation, but this wasn’t an instance where big words could be used without raising any questions.
What is great about this extended adaptation, though, is that the original book and cartoon are intertwined both effectively and intelligently with the new plot and characters. Sure, the writers had to change a couple of things and switch a couple of others, but it was done in a way that wasn’t too dummied down for adults but flew low enough for children to catch as well.
The film might come off a little more musical than first anticipated, but it was an effective way to place matters into perspective for kids by using simple — but just catchy enough — songs throughout. “Thneedville,” the film’s opening number, is a light-hearted and slightly funny ode to the artificially real place the characters call home. Everything the residents walk, sit, sleep or eat on is fake; it’s made of plastic, and even their trees light up a different color for each season.
And while all the children are bobbing their heads and eating popcorn to the flighty tune, the adults right next to them can listen to the lyrics and catch the real message behind them: This is where our world is headed if selfish industrialism continues at the rate it’s going.
Although “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” is a movie with a slightly flawed message, it’s still a great one. The extra hour of new content is just as entertaining and effective as the original, and there’s a moral for young, old, veteran or rookie audiences alike.
Lauraann Wood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 536-3311 ext. 273.