By April Wilson, Senior Staff Writer
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” These are the words that conclude Dr. Seuss’s 1971 classic story, “The Lorax,” as well as the movie version of the tale.
The movie was a feel good adaptation of an otherwise bleak children’s book. The filmmakers managed to take pages that were mostly grey and dreary with a little snippet of hope and turn it into a fully fleshed out story that made you feel good by the end.
The book focuses on an unnamed boy who hears the Once-ler’s tale of regret at having destroyed the forest of Truffula Trees despite the warnings he received from the Lorax, caretaker of the forest.
The film expands on this concept by naming the boy, Ted (in tribute to Seuss, Theodore Geisel, himself) and making his quest to obtain the last truffula seed a grand undertaking motivated by his love for Audrey. He has to escape from colorful, but all plastic Thneedville into the wild which resembles the dreary grey destruction that Seuss created in the books pages.
In addition to Ted, the movie creates a new villain and adds a whole host of other characters.
The voice casting was fantastic. Ted was voiced with great enthusiasm by Zac Efron, while his love interest, Audrey was played with cheerful bounce by Taylor Swift.
The Once-ler was surprisingly voiced by Ed Helms of “The Office,” who of course managed to get some of his vocal styling via two songs and lots of humming and “do-doing.”
The Lorax in all of his crusading glory was voiced by Danny DeVito, who gave a performance full of passionate snark and sarcasm.
The one issue with the movie is its overbearing environmentalist, anti-capitalist message that is thrown at the viewer from the opening credits. The characterization of the Once-ler as greedy and unkind is a little overdone and one of the songs, “How Bad Can I Be?,” could not have been a more blatant criticism of capitalistic greed.
These normally wouldn’t be an issue except that this is a movie mainly targeted at children. Children are very impressionable and such heated issues like whether capitalism is good or bad just seems like too much to discuss with a 5-year-old.
On the other hand, the environmentalist message, while overdone, really is good for kids. It is a great way to teach them to be caretakers of the world.
Despite its shortcomings, “The Lorax” is worth seeing. It is a colorful good time and, even with all the highly charged messages, it makes you feel good by the end and provides a little hope that we all can change the world if we care enough.