This is another one of those movies that I had really low expectations for. However, as I watched this film, I began to like it for the same reasons that I liked Horton Hears a Who, it managed to stick to the heart of the story, which is really important when adapting the stories of Dr. Seuss.
The story of the film is set in the town of Thneedville, a town devoid of nature where everything is made of plastic or metal, and follows a 12 year-old boy named Ted, voiced by Zac Efron, who’s in love with a high school girl named Audrey, voiced by Taylor Swift. Audrey longs to see a real tree, prompting Ted to seek out The Once-ler, voiced by Ed Helms, setting the stage for the true narrative of the story, The Once-ler’s encounter with The Lorax, played by Danny Devito.
On the visual front, the film does a very good job of mimicking the artwork of the late Dr. Seuss. Since it’s an animated film, it takes cinematic and physical liberties that aren’t available in live action film, which work really well for Dr. Seuss.
The trailer indicated that Ted was going to be the focus, but his story is more of a framing device and acts more like subplot if anything. Its focus is on the darker story of how greed can lead to the destruction of nature if we aren’t careful. Even then, the framing story of Ted and his quest is actually handled pretty well.
There were a couple things that I could’ve done without. First off, the singing fish. What was the point of the singing fish? They just came across as Despicable Me minion knock-offs. Some of their musical bits were tolerable, but when they decided to use them for pop culture references, they got annoying.
Another thing that produced a mixed reaction was the musical numbers. Sometimes, they were hard to sit through, but somehow, at the right times, there would be a 4th wall joke or some other comedy bit that kind of makes it worth it. However, in the middle of the film, as The Once-ler is telling his story, there’s actually a really good musical bit that shows his transition to the corrupt businessman and then to the regretful hermit telling the story.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this film. While there are some things are a little distracting, I feel that this film is definitely worth a watch. It’s written well, and has some pretty good jokes and musical bits. On my personal scale, I give The Lorax a 4/5.