Friday, April 13, 2012

3 short paragraphs: The Lorax

2012, Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda -- In Theatre

Okay, I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but the first time I'd ever heard of the Lorax was on a Saturday Night Live sketch during the New York Gubernatorial election when Jimmy McMillan, founder of "The Rent Is Too Damn High" Party where he was referred to as "The Black Lorax" (because he has a big, swooping, Lorax-ian moustache).  The name stuck in my brain only to find out, oh, about a year later that the Lorax was a relatively famous Dr. Seuss-ian creation that was being made into a CGI animated movie by the makers of Despicable Me.  As the promotional materials, trailers, commercials and reviews started hitting I became more and more aware of Seuss' ecological-inspired character/story but still not familiar at all with it.

The marketing definitely worked on my kids, aged 10 and 2, the latter of whom became obsessed with the Lorax after staring at a poster for the film for 20 minutes on a subway ride (this is why there are laws about advertising to children on television).  So I took them to the theatre and it was definitely an experience to remember, more because it was my daughter's first experience at the movies than really anything to do with the picture itself, which was passably entertaining and visually stimulating, but bloated and preachy but without really getting the message.

It's an oversimplified eco-fairy tale about consumer excess, but lacking any of the subtlety of WALL-E's rather alarmist view of mankind's ever-expanding need for stuff.  There's a decent half hour of story in there, which, if extracted, would probably equal Seuss' source material.  The add-ons were obvious, including a whole plot about a kid (Zac Efron) who wants to impress a girl (Taylor Swift) by finding her a tree (which have long been depleted) who is led to the hermit outside city walls.  There a story is told by the Once-ler (Ed Helms) of his own part in the destruction of all that was beautiful and wonderful in nature, despite warnings from the friendly, if annoying magical protector of the forest, the Lorax (Danny DeVito). It's at first a charming, then alarming story that features a slew of cute little bears, awkward birds, and fish that walk on land, who slowly come to learn they're defenseless against the power of a resource-consuming society they're not a part of.  Once the story is over, it's up to the kid to bring nature back to life by planting a seed, but the evil owner of the canned fresh air company (Rob Riggle) does everything in his city-wide power to stop nature's resurgence.  In the end, it's fine, but it's not that exciting, and really only needed a third of its running time to tell.  The kids liked it though, but they have no discerning tastes at all (and my 2 year old was about done by the start of the third act... but then, she is only two).  It is a very striking poster though.