Title: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
Director: Chris Renaud & Kyle Balda
Starring the voices of: Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Betty White, Rob Riggle
Review by: Joe Belcastro – Member of the Florida Film Critics Circle
Aside from being a visual-dynamo, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is literally a kind 94 minutes that is delivered in an appropriate manner for its target audience, the kiddies.
Taken from the legendary Dr. Seuss children’s book from 1971 by the filmmakers who created 2010’s Despicable Me, the adaptation is both loyal in tone and texture. In other words, they didn’t pull a Michael Bay and butcher the source material. While the physical delivery of this tale is kid-friendly, the engaging theme will undoubtedly speak to all audiences.
The story line follows a teenage boy named Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) who has a crush on his slightly older neighbor in Audrey (voiced by Taylor Swift). In a town where everything is made of plastic, even the trees, Audrey believes that the area was once populated with glorious trees (that look mini cotton-candy on a stick) and yearns to find one. After hearing this, the eager to impress Ted asks his grandmother (voiced by Betty White) if real trees ever existed and how would he locate one. After she tells him a tale about the dealings between The Once-ler (voiced by Ed Helms) – a kind, yet greedy entrepreneur who needed the trees to feed his invention – and The Lorax (voiced by Danny DeVito) – the mythical keeper of natural life – he ventures outside of the great city walls into a gloomy land to track down the now recluse Once-ler; which does not please another greedy soul in the town overseer, Mr. O’Hare (voiced by Rob Riggle).
What really makes this 94 minute telling flow is the perfectly timed injection of the role players. Singing fish, dancing bears, and Mr. O’Hare’s two larger-than-life looking brutish security guards gives the audience something to look forward to while the heart of the story is being articulated. The vibrant musical sequences have an energy that gets one excited; and not to mention, the lyrics are equally funny and clever to take in. While the classic story stays true, there are some “action” sequences that use the modern-day shtick in the effort to casually update the hand-drawn pages. And there is no harm, no foul in doing so here. I mean, how else were they going to make this a full-blown 3D feature? If anything, the choreography in the musical sequences gave the story a more charismatic delivery.
The remarkable thing about this entire product is that there isn’t any element that overshadows another. In a lot of products, sometimes the animation is great but the dialogue bombs; the story is great yet the characters themselves are bland. In this guy, there is a nice balance where the eyes and ears will be treated to a delightful experience the entire way through. That’s rarity in the recent batch of animations people.
All the voice work is incredible, too. The performers’ voice inflection really adds another dimension to their already colorful physical make-up. The back-n-forth between Danny DeVito and Ed Helms isn’t flashy yet somehow – via the depth of the conversation – can be riveting. And when the flick wants to be funny via the above mentioned “role players” it works almost every time.
Overall, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is sending all the right messages to all the senses. Well, they do have a random line or two in which they pick on a character’s physical features (not the ideal thing to teach the little ones), but one can let it slide. Even the 3D is worth it, though you can still get the same experience without it, you will.