Friday, 3 August 2012

A Review of The Lorax

Happy Friday everyone! First of all, I need to apologise for being largely absent over the past week and a bit. That wasn't the plan... we've just been seeing friends, taking trips, and other stuff that tends to happen during the summer months (regardless of the random weather in Scotland). I'm going to try to catch up over the weekend.

Among these exploits was an outing with the kiddywinks to see The Lorax. As it's based on one of my favourite books, I thought I should write a little review.

So this was my favourite Dr Seuss book as a kid. That might be because it played into my whole eco-warrior phase, but I think it's a great story and the message only gets more relevant. But that message is only for kids, by the way. I think it's good to bring it to their attention in a context that they'll enjoy, but most conscientious adults won't need the reminder, and I found the bombastic production didn't match the simple charm of the book.

The core story was fleshed out in a way that I felt a bit ambivalent about. The Once-ler was an emblem of faceless capitalism in the book - literally, as all you see of him is a pair of arms wielding an axe. He comes across a forest of Truffula trees, which he chops down in order to use their tufts to make thneeds, bizarre multipurpose garments. In the movie, he befriends the cute woodland creatures, but still blithely destroys their entire habitat. He's too nice to convince as a villain, whereas, in the book, he only develops a sense of guilt after the Lorax disappears.

There's a new villain introduced, too - the tycoon O'Hare who runs the town of Thneedville, which sprang up after the forest was felled, and manufactures bottled air. His character is a cardboard cut-out, but the idea of paying for fresh air is a great conceit in terms of taking corporate greed to its logical extreme.

A lot of the new elements introduced by the film seem quite clumsily grafted on and don't quite add up - Ted, who went unnamed in the original story, wants to find a real tree to win the heart of Audrey, who seems to be in the minority among the brainwashed inhabitants of Thneedville in yearning for a return to nature. Where did these people come from? Were they created at the same time as the plastic conurbation? The town is surrounded by thick metal walls and no one seems to be aware that it is in the middle of a dessicated wasteland. O'Hare has security measures in place to ensure no one leaves town, but Ted manages it without too many problems on several occasions.

In conclusion, I'd have to say it was an average effort. Kids will love it - song and dance numbers included - and hopefully it will encourage them to think about what's happening in the world. It's enjoyable enough for adults, as long as you don't expect justice done to the book.

28 comments:

E.J. Wesley said...

I just think studios try too hard with the Seuss book translations. The best ever, in my opinion, is the original "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" cartoon. And they basically kept it the same, right down to the animation and crazy plotting style.

Basically, they just left it to the audience to figure it out, like Seuss did. The Lorax didn't need the embellishment of an extra villain and a more overt plot. Children enjoy a complex story, even if they don't immediately 'get it'. It took me years to figure out what most Seuss stories were actually trying to tell me, and that was great.

J. A. Bennett said...

I haven't seen this yet, and now I have no desire to. I think I'll stick with reading the classic to my kids :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'd heard they deviated a lot from the story. Shame, it was good just as it was written.

Kyra Lennon said...

Honestly never heard of The Lorax until this morning when I saw a trailer online! Dr Seuss was somewhat missing in my childhood! :(

Angela Brown said...

My little Chipmunk has expressed much interest in seeing this movie so I guess we're not missing out on much.

Elise Fallson said...

I've read the classic version to my kids and they love it, me too. I think I'll skip the movie. I hate it when big production mucks up a good thing. (:

Lynda R Young said...

I haven't seen this yet. I'm not rushing out to see it, but I will definitely make the effort. It's an animation after all ;)

Crack You Whip said...

I actually like it, but love the message of the story overall, so that helps a lot.

kmckendry said...

That's too bad. I really like the story, they should have just stuck with the original.

Amy Saia said...

My daughter saw this with her cousin and said she liked it. I generally don't like all the new movie translations of these books. The original spirit seems to fade a little.

Martin Willoughby said...

You're not the only one thinks they've overdone the story. Thanks for adding to the consensus.

I read the book to my kids when they were little and this sounds like a movie I'll pass by.

C.B. Wentworth said...

I wanted to see this movie in the theater, but then decided to just wait until it came out on DVD. Your review has reinforced that I was right to wait. :-)

Nick Wilford said...

E.J. - Yeah, the problem with a lot of these films is it's too shoved in your face. I've only seen the Jim Carrey version of The Grinch in Spanish (long story). Don't think I missed much from not seeing it in English!

J.A. - Sounds like a plan! My three-year-old did want the book read to her at bedtime the same day we saw the film.

Alex - I agree.

Kyra - Ahh, sounds like you were deprived! It's not too late to catch up, though. :D

Angela - Well, it is good for kids - there's not that many movies for them that make them think about stuff like this.

Elise - Our kids love the book too, and they did enjoy the movie, but if they're not badgering you to go and see it, don't bother. Shame, as Horton Hears a Who was an excellent movie!

Lynda - No issues on the animation - it is stunning!

Crack You Whip - Yeah, I just wish the message hadn't got a little bit diluted with stuff like the love story and the action chases. It's kind of ironic that the message is anti-commercialism when the film itself is so commercialised.

Kathy - I know - I was sceptical just from seeing the trailers!

Amy - Like I said, kids will love it. There are worse things they could watch! But yeah - not the same as the book.

Martin - I did check out some other reviews. It seems I'm not alone!

C.B. - It's probably inevitable the DVD will be an Xmas present for someone in our house!

Vanessa said...

You're not the first one who thinks the movie is average. A pity, because the creature looks incredibly cute :)

Susan Oloier said...

I absolutely agree with your assessment. The movie did not do justice to the book. Don't know if a movie ever can.

cleemckenzie said...

Too bad it didn't measure up to Seuss's delightful book. So many movies don't delight as the book does. Thanks for the heads up. I'm sure you're right, kids will still find the songs and dances.

Chuck said...

I can say this is one Suess book and character I know nothing about. I am sure I will get to see it when my wife adds it to our Blockbuster queue...she loves these things.

Lisa Regan said...

My daughter and mom went to see it without me! LOL. My daughter loved it but yeah, my mom said it was a little heavy-handed. I still want to see it though!

Julie Dao said...

You know, I've never read this book! I think I'm going to try to do that before I watch the movie :)

Jessica Nelson said...

Hmm, interesting review. I've never read the book.

Stephen Tremp said...

We saw the movie and will buy the DVD. It was fun, but different from the books. We try to teach our kids not all capitalism is bad and not all corporations are like what's portrayed in the movie.

Emily R. King said...

This is on my "to buy" list for my kids. Thanks for the review!

Talli Roland said...

I haven't seen this, and I probably won't now... I'm generally not a fan of books into films. I always find them disappointing.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

The Lorax is one of my very favorite Dr. Suess books also. I was reading it to the kids when the Spotted Owl controversy was going on in the Pacific Northwest in the 80's/90's.

I was happy to learn about the movie being made, but now I'll probably pass. Thanks for the great and honest review.

Kathy M.

Nick Wilford said...

Vanessa - The movie looked good alright, but then we kind of take that for granted from these films now.

Susan - I'm sure there are cases where the movie has outshone the book! I just can't think of one at 6am :)

C. Lee - It was still better than most of the stuff the kids watch!!

Chuck - Check out the book in the meantime! You're never too old to enjoy them - not saying you're old, of course... :D

Lisa - Glad your daughter enjoyed it! I'm sure you'll get to see it!

Julie - Good plan! It also takes about 1% of the time, which is a win. :)

Jessica - I don't think it's the best known Seuss book, but it's one of the best.

Stephen - Yeah, it is a bit one-sided, but at least the Onceler showed remorse after what he did.

Emily - No worries! :)

Talli - I know what you mean.

Kathy - I don't know about the Spotted Owl thing, but I first read it in the same era (as a kid). I was heavily into Greenpeace, which is probably part of why I liked it so much!

Livia said...

I went to see this movie in theatres and it's pretty good considering it gives plenty of messages without giving a lecture. It had great musical numbers - eg. Let It Grow. It's pure enjoyment for the whole family!

Medeia Sharif said...

I haven't seen this. I don't watch too many kids movies, and I think I'll pass on this.

I read many Seuss books. I can't remember if I've read The Lorax.

nutschell said...

I haven't seen this, but I've been wanting to! Glad to know it's out on DVD now :)
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com