Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax transports viewers into a fantastical landscape imagined by Dr. Seuss and vividly brought to life by Chris Meledandri and his acclaimed filmmaking team at Illumination Entertainment. Directed by Chris Renaud (Despicable Me) from a screenplay adapted by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul from the 1971 children’s classic, the film is an imaginative journey that begins in the town of Thneedville, where a boy searches for the one thing he knows will win the heart of his dream girl. But in order find it, he must discover the story of the Lorax, the often grumpy but loveable protector of Truffula Valley, in an exciting adventure filled with comedy and heart. Danny DeVito (Twins) lends his unmistakable voice to the Lorax, the remarkable creature who “speaks for the trees,” with Ed Helms (The Hangover I & II) as his enigmatic nemesis, the Once-ler. The all-star cast also includes Zac Efron (High School Musical) as Ted, an idealistic 12-year-old searching for the Lorax; Grammy Award winner Taylor Swift (Valentine’s Day) as Audrey, the girl of Ted’s dreams; Rob Riggle (The Hangover) as the villainous O’Hare; Jenny Slate (Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked) as Ted’s protective mother; and five-time Emmy Award winner Betty White (The Proposal) as Ted’s wise Grammy Norma.
The Lorax is the story of a teenage boy, Ted, (Zac Efron) who wants to impress a pretty girl named Audrey (Taylor Swift). Everything in the town of Thneedsville is fake and she would desperately like to see a real tree. The only trees she has seen are made of plastic and inflate automatically each day. Aided by his grandmother, Ted sets out on a journey to find an old hermit named the Once-ler (Ed Helms). He travels beyond the walls of Thneedville, where few have ever been.
The residents of Thneedville live in a pristine town with no living plants or trees and air delivered to them in bottles. The evil corporate tycoon Aloysius O’Hare (Rob Riggle) is in control of the air, and the town. His underlings have presented a plan to sell individual sized plastic bottles of air to the population. The increased plastic bottles produced will increase pollution, decrease air quality and cause consumers to require more bottled air. This cycle ensures O’Hare and his company outstanding profits. The residents don’t know that their picture perfect town lies in the middle of a wasteland, where trees once grew.
Ted tracks down the Once-ler, who makes Ted return many times to hear the full story of the destruction of the beautiful Truffula forest. As the tale progresses, it’s made clear that the Once-ler, (and his multi-use sweater invention the Thneed) are responsible for the loss of the beautiful forest, and subsequent eradication of the animals who called the Truffula Forest home. The Lorax (Danny Devito) is a fuzzy creature that was the protector of the forest, and has since vanished. Ted’s journey’s to see the Once-ler attracts the attention of O’Hare and his henchman try to stop the boy from planting the last Truffula seed. While originally seeking a tree only to win Audrey’s love, Ted eventually realizes that there are bigger issues and he seeks to change his world, starting with a single tree.
Dr. Suess’ The Lorax is a beloved children’s book that somehow missed me as a child. I loved Green Eggs and Ham, and The Cat in the Hat, but I’ve never heard of the Lorax. Maybe I grew up under a rock. The movie The Lorax is not just environmentally conscious, but downright scary to my four year old who saw it in the theater and asked me if we were going to run out of air and die. Clearly, I should have known a little about this story and prepped my son to understand this cautionary tale before I showed it to him. I knew that there were environmental themes to the film and the book, but I expected them to be much more subtle. As an example, my son was upset when all the little animals gathered around a recently cut down tree and cried about it.
In addition, Aloysius O’Hare and his henchman were over the top in their pursuit of Ted and for my four year old it was a little too much. I’m all for environmentally conscious messages, and I like it when my son leaves a movie having learned something and in this case, I would have liked him to have learned why it’s important to recycle. Instead, this movie left my son worried about his oxygen and his chances for survival, which is not the ideal state for a child to be in at the end of a kid’s movie. I’m sure older kids won’t have an issue with this but if you have a young child, watch the movie and judge for yourself if it will be acceptable to show your child.
2D Video 3D Video
For a new CGI film, my expectations for video quality are pretty high. Luckily, in the video department, The Lorax does not disappoint. The 1080p (1.85:1) AVC encoded presentation is stellar and the colors are extraordinarily bright and vibrant. Black levels are deep and even the Truffula Valley’s deserted atmosphere translates well. The 3D transfer is also very impressive from the very beginning of the film (with a toy airplane coming right at you) all the way to the end. There’s a very nice sense of depth throughout the movie which really makes the action pop off the screen. For those people that prefer their 3D effects to come out towards you, there are several instances of that happening so they should be pleased. This is one of the finest 3D titles I’ve seen with none of the ghosting some of the other movies have been plagued with. Both the 2D and the 3D transfers are blemish free and look gorgeous. If you have the capability to watch 3D movies at home, I highly recommend this 3D version of the movie which offers a more fun and immersive experience than the 2D version.
The Lorax is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and has an impressive soundtrack. Hearing the trees drop particularly made me take notice. Both the side channels and rear speakers are fully utilized with the Lorax. The soundtrack and effects are rich and reveal multiple layers of audio detail. The chase sequences are supported by the score without being overwhelming and dialogue levels are consistent.
For a film as big as The Lorax, I simply expected a whole lot more in the special features department. The features themselves look promising in number but are often much too brief.
- Audio Commentary – An all-encompassing audio commentary with co-directors Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda. They discuss the film’s origins and explain a lot about why they made the additions and casting choices with great detail.
- Mini-Movies – Wagon Ho, Forces of Nature and Serenage are mini-movies from within the Lorax universe. These are definitely geared towards children, more than the feature film itself.
- Making of Mini-Movies – A three minute look at the making of the mini-movies that doesn’t add real depth.
- Deleted Scene – One deleted scene, which is in its final form.
- O-Hare TV – O-Hare commercials interrupt the film.
- Expedition of Truffula Valley – An interactive tour that is a little difficult to manage.
- Seuss to Screen – A brief look at translating the Lorax from book to movie.
- Kid’s Games – Once’ler’s Wagon, Get Out of Town and Truffula Run games for children.
- Let It Grow Sing-Along – A sing along song from the movie, Let It Grow.
I realize that a short children’s book requires a lot of added material when it’s turned into a movie. In the case of The Lorax, I wish they had developed the Lorax character more and not focused so much on Ted. This could have been a cute, sweet little film that my whole family would have enjoyed. Instead it’s a doomsday warning that scares my pre-schooler. Parents are always looking for family movies that strike the perfect balance between entertaining for children but enjoyable for parents. This one might have tried to please the parents a little too much to the detriment of the kids. It was still a solid film, but I just expected a lot more than that, and a lot more development of the marshmallow loving Lorax.
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