Release Date: March 2, 2012
Director(s): Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda
Stars (voices): Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito
Runtime: 86 min
Tagline: From the creators of Despicable Me.
In the walled city of Thneed-Ville, where everything is artificial and good air costs money, a 12-year old boy named Ted (Zac Efron) wants to find a tree, so he could win the heart of the much older Audrey (Taylor Swift). When he learns of trees outside of his city, he sets out to find the Once-ler. When the Once-ler tells him the story of his unfortunate greed for money, Ted gets it in his mind that he’s going to reverse it. The mayor of the town, Mr. O’Hare, is one of the only forces that stand in his way.
One can tell that this is obviously by the creators of Despicable Me, because of the adorable bears and fish and such characters that have very similar voices to those of the minions. Also, Mr. O’Hare is about one foot tall, so he may be just a little smaller than those minions. Did the production company not have enough money to make him tall? It’s just a little silly.
The message it’s trying to teach kids is, don’t be greedy. If you’re greedy, it will only lead to bad things. Protect the environment. Speaking of the environment, it really does have a strong expression of saying, protect the environment. The film is not only trying to get this message across to children, but to adults, too.
There isn’t a lot of content to carry this film. It’s one Dr. Seuss story that should have remained untouched. The character of Ted is okay, one can understand his motivations, but he isn’t particularly interesting, and he certainly isn’t lead boy material. The only interesting character of modern-day Thneed-Ville is Grammy Norma, voiced by the energetic Betty White. She is the heart of present day Thneed-Ville. The character of Mr. O’Hare is not interesting, nor is his plot line. Who likes a story of a greedy little one foot-tall man selling air? Not I, because this is simply one of the most uninteresting things I have heard of. This all being said, when the Lorax, the much younger Once-ler, and those singing fish and those absolutely adorable bears, are not present, the film really does suffer. They are the emotional heart of the film. There’s a reason this film is not called Ted and Audrey, or Mr. O’Hare’s a Greedy and Creepy Dwarf.
The Once-ler really isn’t generally a greedy man, it was mostly his family that brainwashed him. They reminded me of that family of Hilary Swank’s character from Million Dollar Baby, because when he was out of trees and couldn’t make any more thneeds, they just threw him to the dust and disowned him.
Most of these actors proved that they are not cut out for doing voices for animation. Taylor Swift and Zac Efron, especially. I didn’t see any hint of them altering their voices to make their characters sound more fun. Rob Riggle was just okay as Mr. O’Hare, but he wasn’t very memorable. Danny DeVito and Ed Helms were actually pretty good at doing voicework, and they were quite hysterical. Though, the really only stand-out and memorable voice of the bunch is the lovable Betty White.
The Lorax doesn’t home enough interesting characters or a particularly interesting story to make this flow well and go through the motions in an impressive way. The animation is quite nice, and the messages that it wants to teach children are just okay. The Lorax doesn’t offer anything very impressive, and it won’t stand out in the running of the Oscars’ Best Animated Feature.