"The Lorax reminds me more of one of those irritating characters that come to your primary school to teach you about health and safety regulations..."
Whilst Despicable Me fans anticipate the much-awaited sequel to the brilliant animation, director Chris Renaud presents his latest project, delving into the surrealistic world of Dr. Seuss, adapting the educationally driven children's book The Lorax.
Zac Efron leads the all-star cast, offering his voice for Ted, a young boy who is desperately searching for a way to win over the affections of his dream girl Audrey (Taylor Swift), hoping to get his hands on a real-life tree due to living in the partitioned city of Thneed-Ville, where everything is artificial. Audrey has a yearning for something authentic, and Ted illegally flees the city to visit The Once-ler (Ed Helms) who, apparently, is the man to go to if you need a tree.
When meeting The Once-ler, Ted is told the tale of how the former businessman surrendered to his greed and destroyed the natural land for the sake of his own profit. Featuring within the story is The Lorax (Danny DeVito) - the being that strived to prevent The Oncer-ler's narcissistic actions, and now Ted is determined to remain true to the spirit of the grumpy yet lovable speaker for the trees and help undo the disaster. However Ted soon becomes aware that the Mayor of Thneed-Ville Mr. O'Hare (Rob Riggle) is against his plan, as an acquisitive capitalist who has made a fortune for himself exploiting the environmental collapse.
One gripe I have with The Lorax is the lack of substance lying within the title character himself. He isn't the main character of this tale, nor does he has enough time on screen. He is also too boring a character to base the entire story on - devoid in much personality, lacking in bite. A shame to not fully utilise the strength and association within DeVito's recognisable voice. The supporting cast of animals do go some way in making amends for the lack of character to The Lorax - as the most enjoyable scenes mostly feature the wild bears and singing fish. Similarly to Despicable Me and the much-loved Minions, it's the non-verbal characters that prove to be the best thing in it.
Yet unlike Despicable Me, The Lorax is lacking in an enticing and enjoyable narrative with strong character relationships. Instead we are presented with a film that doesn't truly have a palpable plot, with no apparent antagonist - or protagonist either. The good guy is instead, what, nature? Kids love that.
It is interesting to see how the story is presented however, as it cuts between present day and flashbacks, as we see almost half of this story from the perspective of The Once-ler, who is effectively the bad guy. As for the educational aspects to this film, one can't help but appreciate what both Renaud and Kyle Balda are trying to do, taking a look at important environmental issues that hold as much resonance today as they did in the 1970s when this book was first published.
However what transpires is a rather tedious movie. It's not the fact that it tackles themes such as the environment - Wall-E took a similar approach and got it absolutely spot on, it's more that it isn't backed up with any charm, and feels too contrived, as The Lorax reminds me more of one of those irritating characters that come to your primary school to teach you about health and safety regulations.
Having said that I do like the fact that under the colourful, surreal surface that exists in The Lorax, is an educational tale with sound morals. Though it is the flamboyant, vibrant setting that is the film's greatest accomplishment, staying faithful to the Dr. Seuss brand - a brand which exists off the back of one brilliantly wild imagination. As one of few films that come to mind that actually implements 3D technology effectively, The Lorax, regrettably, can't survive solely off its own aesthetic experience.