Sunday 29 July 2012

Review: The Lorax (3D)

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

The Lorax poster

The Lorax (3D)
86 mins / Dir. Chris Renaud

This is what happens when my local has Batman on three of its five screens and Magic Mike on the fourth. In a bid to avoid the hubbub around the Sports Day that's opening as I type this, I went to see a kids film during the summer holidays. That's how desperate I am for cultural fulfilment.

The Plot: In an isolated town that has forgotten about nature, a young boy Ted learns of a mysterious creature named The Once-ler: the only one who knows the story of what happened to the trees. The Once-ler recounts the tale of the young man responsible, and the guardian of the forest that tried to stop him - The Lorax.

The Good: The animation itself looks great (although most animation at this level looks great these days), and as usual the 3D works a treat in this format. The voice-acting's solid enough, and when it's not being hampered by the story the characterisation's quite good, too. There are a lot of sight-gags involving the forest dwelling creatures that should please everyone, and they were certainly the highlight for me.

The Bad: There are two or three musical numbers in the film which seem jarringly out-of-context, given that it's not a musical. I can forgive the opening titles that introduce the town of Thneedville, but after that the songs are too widely-spaced to be a motif. It's not a biggie, and it probably won't bother the kids.

The Ugly: From the trailer, I was worried that the film would descend into a hand-wringing eco propaganda reel, and it certainly tries to become the conscience of the audience, but the problem for me is that the environmental message is hammered home so tactlessly that it actually comes off as insincere. The film seems to have things to say about ecology, consumerism and authority, but they're mish-mashed into an unconvincing morality tale that shoots itself in the foot as it's delivering it. Apparently fans of Dr Seuss are unhappy with the way the story's been butchered, and without being familiar with the source-text, I still get the feeling they have every right to be. The core of the story itself is so far at odds with the medium of delivery that it renders the whole thing pretty much pointless.

Worth £8+? Not really. The little ones will enjoy it, but they could just as easily enjoy it on DVD.


Final Thought: If trees are so great and plastic is so bad, how are you going to market spin-off merchandising? Did you think of that, Universal?

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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