Delivering a fitting mesage to the future of the world in an abudance of Colour
Following on from the success of 'Desp*cable Me', production house Illumination Entertainment have chosen this book as source material for their second animated feature. As such, this film feels very similar to the style and quality of their first movie, but never reaches the height that is achieved by animation powerhouses Pixar and Dreamworks. Where their animation brings across a wealth of quality, narratives that are aimed at everyone and voice work that completely feels in tune to the production, 'The Lorax' falls short, feeling more whimsical and colourful but never being able to transport audiences to the worlds the creators have designed. This is a shame as with the message this film tries to convey - to Save the Planet- it deserved to have been produced and released to the same standard.
Featuring a plot within a plot narrative, 'The Lorax' follows Ted, an idealistic 12 year old boy who has major interest in gaining the affection of neighbor Audrey. Living in Thneed-ville, a place where everything is manufactured and fresh air is packaged and sold, the pair dream of a place where trees still grow and nature is alive. With hopes of making Audrey happy, Ted leaves the safety of the village and heads off in search of a being known only as the Once-ler, the last person to see a living tree. Once he has found this strange being, Ted is welcomed by the story of how the extinction of trees occurred. What starts as Ted's story shifts into being the Once-ler as he explores, through flashbacks, the manner of their disappearance. It is also only in these segments that the title character appears and, although close to the source material, this film never feels like the Lorax's film, more he is a passer by caught up in the story-arc. As plots go it is basic but then is also aimed at pleasing the younger generation so it can be forgiven. With the way that the planet is shifting, and environment issues are becoming increasingly common, the message that this film conveys is fitting for the time that we are living, this message is the films strongest aspect. It would have just been better for the title character to be given a greater amount of screen time as his absence from over half the film is noticeable.
The voice work in this animation is rather hit and miss. Danny Devito is a perfect fit as the Lorax, the voice matches the personality and design of the creature perfectly. Danny Devito is as good at performing voice characters as anyone, and in this feature reaches the highs that Robin Williams ascended in Disney's Aladdin. Ed helms is also a good fit as the Once-ler and although he does his best to alter his voice, in some instances it is unmistakably him. As other voices that feature go however the quality is not so good. Zac Efron does not, in anyway, suit the character he portrays. Whenever does a twelve year old boy have a deep and strong voice, it is a puzzle to find the reason behind the production company hiring an actual twelve year old to provide the voice as that would have fitted in more closely with the character. The creatures of the forest are also voiced rather poorly, never before in a film has a character been so annoying as the three singing fish. Every scene that they are in is so bad that audiences will wish to pull their ears off, so as to not here their squeaks no more. Although they were included for the obvious of making kids laugh, the creators needed to remember that older people will watch this film too, and should have never overused them like they did. Taylor Swift and Rob Riggle speak admirably but are never good enough in their roles to be anymore than just basic and average. Although some of this is down to the fact that their characters are also tragically underused throughout.
One high point however is the choice and deliverance of singing numbers that are featured in the film. They really do add some sort of enjoyment to viewers, in much the same way as other musical productions.
'The Lorax' is a film that will not be to everyones taste. Close to the source material it is, but never does it do anything that is beyond average. With everything that is done great there is a guarantee that something is not. This lets down the whole production, but kids will still find enough to find enjoyment and that should be enough for parents to choose this film. Delivering a truly important message to thousands of children, and doing so in an abundance of colour.