Review: The Lorax

daniel cohen looks at the Dr. Seuss flick …

Plot: Wanting to impress the girl (Taylor Swift) of his dreams, Ted (Zac Efron) goes on a search to find a tree, something that hasn’t been seen in his hometown of Thneedville for many years. Ted comes across the Once-ler (Ed Helms), who tells him his tale of why there are no more trees, and his encounter with the legendary Lorax (Danny DeVito), guardian of the forest.

Maybe Dr. Seuss books just shouldn’t be movies. It just doesn’t work. Whether it’s live action or animated, they come across as loud and stale. This movie is completely bland, offering very little entertainment value whatsoever. The settings were very pretty, but I cared more about the sno-caps I was eating rather than any character in this film.

The script is weak as hell, but the voice acting was even worse. It’s so over performed. It sounds like everybody was brought in at the last second, and had about one day to finish their work. Zac Efron as Ted is probably the worst, and even Betty White as the Granny is just whatever. Jenny Slate as Ted’s mom at least had some personality, and I enjoyed Danny DeVito as the Lorax quite a bit. But for a movie called The Lorax, he’s really not in it that much. And except for one scene, he’s only in flashback sequences.

The Lorax doesn’t show up until the second act, which is a problem, because the first act of this film is terrible. There is absolutely nothing worth two shits in the beginning. The pretty colors are interesting for about two minutes, there’s an average musical number, and then it’s just infused with a ho-hum story and jokes where nobody even wants to pretend to try. I couldn’t even follow the plot at first, because I was so checked out from boredom.

As the movie goes on, it gets a little more tolerable. We start getting into the flashbacks of the mysterious Once-ler, voiced by Ed Helms, who’s just another ‘whatever’ performance. When he starts interacting with all the bears, fish, and Lorax, at least it’s mildly entertaining, but I had a big problem with the relationship between Once-ler and the Lorax.

Once-ler comes into this gorgeous and beautiful forest of trees and animals, and immediately starts being a dick. He’s littering. He chops down a tree. He even barges into one of the little houses and starts moving in without asking anyone. Yet, we are supposed to believe he’s this special guy who the Lorax believes in, making it heartbreaking when he begins destroying their land. There was no evidence of him having all this love and appreciation for the forest and creatures. The only good deed we see Once-ler do is hand out a few marshmallows, and make some pancakes. The film really wants you to buy into this special relationship between the Lorax and Once-ler that gets sadly shattered, but it was never there to begin with.

Another thing that really got under my skin was the animation. I know it’s supposed to be fantasy and not completely resemble regular human beings, but everything about this looks like a toy commercial. More than any other CG animated film I’ve ever seen, everything on the screen looks like an action figure, even more than Toy Story, and they were actually toys. The cars look like micro-machines, and the fake trees are exact replicas of the green Lego trees. The action was so messy at times that I wouldn’t be surprised if they just filmed a six year old playing with his toys.

While the end had some nice moments, it was too late. Everything about this film is generic kid movie clichés, especially the villain (Rob Riggle), and the sub par musical numbers. I didn’t laugh once, maybe two chuckles from the gold fish. And if you think I’m being cynical, and want to retort with, ‘Well, it’s a kid’s movie, it’s not for you.’ I saw this with an audience full of kids, and I didn’t hear one laugh, and some even left…so there.

Rating: 4.5 out of 10 (Bad)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.