I like Dr. Seuss books. I enjoy reading them to my kids, so going to see The Lorax with my son Max was a fun way to spend a Saturday morning, especially for him. The visual effects are, as we take for granted now with animated and especially 3D movies, stunning. I have no doubt that Dr. Seuss would have been thrilled. The film is true to his visual style and to the spirit of the book. Children will like The Lorax, it is pretty, it moves fast and has lots of cute songs and a semblance of plot.
Despite the visuals, on the whole I was underwhelmed. I realize most movies come laden with a moral or social agenda, but unless it’s a documentary, it doesn’t make it better to have the “message” hold you against a wall with its fingers up your nose holes for the entire two hours. The Lorax hits you hard and fast from beginning to end with the messages that A. the Earth would be better off without people and B. corporations kill trees and harm small animals.
So yes, the guilt trip is a little disappointing. If you think about it though, most of Dr. Seuss’s books are pretty preachy. The Cat in the Hat–be good when mom’s out. The Grinch–don’t be stingy at Christmas. Green Eggs and Ham–try new food, etc. Taken in that context, The Lorax is par for course and rather than complaining I should just be glad that all the pretty pictures and fun songs make a great sugar coating for the sermonizing.
I also really appreciate the fact that The Lorax doesn’t seem to be affected by the Shrekification of animated films. It wasn’t tarnished by a single body humor joke. That said, after an hour or so with hardly a chuckle, I was kind of yearning for a good loud fart to liven things up. Rather than Shrek, The Lorax takes its queues from Tom and Jerry. Fuzzy creatures are flung mercilessly in all three dimensions at every turn in the name of humor. I’m sorry, but after movies like The Incredibles and Rango, there’s just no excuse for relying on such wanton violence to our furry friends in the name of a cheap laugh. It’s cruel and it’s just not that funny.
Still, the Lorax isn’t a total miss for adults. There are a few tender moments, some very creative animation, good music, an opportunity to spend some time with your kids and maybe even a chance to teach them that “Unless” they do their part the trees will all disappear and the Earth will be overtaken by corporate overlords in blimps.