Due to sick-ness, laziness, and the movie being Zookeeper (couldn’t find the one I teased), I skipped the last review cycle. Hopefully, this review, and next one make up for it.
Also, Sorry for butchering Onceler’s name so much in the following review.
Hello, Spongey here.
Green Aeops. They always seem to get people groaning. I don’t know why but writers have a hard time putting an environmental message in a film. Either it comes across as preachy/heavy handed or it’s completely pointless.
I’ve bitched them in the past for a very good reason. Yes, saving the environment is important but any message can work if you write it well. People don’t write it well very often. However, the legendary did write a book with a Green Aeosp that worked out pretty well, and it was my favorite Suess book as a kid, and to an extent, it still is now.
The simple story of how this creepy dude’s quest for greed killed a forrest, was a very effective one that was enjoyable, and delivered is message in a way that was effective and well written, even if it was not subtle at all.
But we’re not here to talk about that….kind of. We’re here to review the 2012 animated film version. …Oh boy. Suess movies are often….divisive to say the least. The Grinch, and this have fans who see them as sold movies while others say them the WORST THING EVER ROAR.
The closets to a praised one was Horton Hears a Who which was the best due to being fun, faithful and lacking in the flaws of the others. On the other hand, the one everyone hates is the previously reviewed Cat in the hat, which was piss awful.
Why do these end up being divisive? I think it’s because they try to take short books and stretch them out, making things odd. The other reason is, in the eyes of fans-
“I DON’T WANT CHANGE!”
I’ll just cover this now: I feel the hate for these movies (sans Cat in the Hat) and this one in particular, is over-freaking blown. You can dislike them all you want, but people go as far as to say they are disgraces to Suess and, worst of all, they demonize the poor writers and directors. If you read my Ted review, you’ll know that personally hating creators like that does not please me.
I mean really, judging by the production (and the fact that Suess’s widow approves of the animated ones and hates the live action ones), it seems like they at least tried to be faithful. Which is more than I can say for Scat in the crap.
MR COAT Who throws a Dr Suess book, honestly?
But hey, if you dislike it, I’m not gonna stop you. With that rant over, let’s get to the movie. This is the 2nd animated Suess feature, coming to us from Illumination, who brought us the Despicable Me films and also that Easter one we all want to forget about. It was a box office hit, but the reaction was mixed, with a 50 something on Rotten Tomatoes, but it has plenty of fans that feel the way I do.
Yeah, this is a positive review, as if you can’t tell by now. It’s flawed (as we’ll discuss later) but it it’s pretty good. Due to the flaws, I can’t say this is the best Suess movie, which is sad as the best parts are very good, but it’s still solid enough. It does it’s job well, and I think it’s better than some peole say.
But why is that? What is it about this film that I like? Well, let’s take a look and see why I speak for this movie. …By the way, me revieing this has NOTHING to do with the fact that NC is doing it soon.
This, is The Lorax
The movie opens with The Lorax himself, who I will get into later, on a stage, telling us, in rhyme, the set up for our story. Then we segue into the movie itself, as we really start off in Thneedville, a town made mostly out plastic fake-ness, with no trees in sight.
We see the bright, happy, citizens in the plastic town, as they seem to be okay with living in a world with no organic anything. And during this tour of the city….we get our first song. Yep, it’s another secret musical.
The decsion to put in songs is a good one but….the songs aren’t very good. I don’t hate the songs like everyone else, but they are just weak and forgetable to me. The first number, Thneedville, introduces to the town fine, but it also has this dumb pop sound, in an attempt to HIP 4 DA KIDZ YO.
It’s not BAD, but it’s easily forgettable. Most of the songs are like that, except one, but we’ll get to it later. After the song, we meet our main kid, Ted, voiced by Zac Efron. Yeah, this is one of two casting choices that people didn’t like. Me? I’m okay with. I think Zac is a decent actor who has some bad luck and he gets to much flack. In this, he’s fine. He doesn’t stick out as bad and you don’t hear the actor while you’re watching, like some other celebs in animated films.
He’s fine. He meets up this older chick named Audrey (Ted….Audrey….sweet) who is his love interest. This character, I don’t care for cuz she’s pointless and bland BUT she’s not annoying nor is she in the movie for long. She’s voiced by Taylor Swift. Yeah, that’s the other odd casting choices.
This is the only bit of stunt casting I didn’t care for, as she doesn’t exactly stick out. But she’s not….annoying and she isn’t awful. I agree on her being pointless but she’s not bad. But you know what is weird? She doesn’t sing. Yes, they got a singer, to voice a character in a musical….and she doesn’t sing. ???
Audrey shows Ted this painting she drew of some trees. Ted is not familiar with real trees, and we’ll see in a bit that someone is the cause of this, so he does Audrey know?
“If a guy somehow got you one…”
‘I’d probably marry him on the spot. I know that sounds crazy. Does that sound crazy?”
We abruptly cut to later, during dinner that night, as Ted asks his surprisingly Jewish Mom where he can get a real tree. She doesn’t see the value in real trees Butt hankfully, his grandma, voiced by Betty White tells him where he can get one.
“You need to find the Once-lor”
She tells him that a man called the Once-Lor, who lives outside of town, knows where where the trees are. No one has been outside of town, as it’s an area where nothing grows, and everything is ruined. So after Grammy’s speech, Ted heads out to find the Once-Lor.
Yep, we’re about 10 minutes in as Ted heads out. Things are going pretty fast, and we don’t exactly know a lot of about our hero. However, I don’t this for a few reasons. One, it’s not really about Ted as we’ll see in a bit. Two, it’s better to get started right away then have the film exclusive stuff stretched out, like in The Grinch.
But before we can move on to the good part, we cut our villain. Yes, we have an added villain hero. His name is O-Hare, and he runs the town, making sure everything is fake and crappy. Like everyone, I think he’s a weak pointless villain who knows nothing other than forced conflict. The message is fine on it’s own without him, really.
These two guys are pitching a new product to him: Bottled Air. Yes, really.
“Our research shows that if you put something in a plastic bottle, people will buy it!”
They say that the factories used to make the bottles will smog the air up so much, people will want the bottled air.
‘The more smog in the sky, the more people will buy”
Hmmm, this is kind of clever but again, it’s not necessary.
Thankfully, that ends so we can back to Ted, who is slightly more interesting, He leaves town easily and ends up in the dirty bad place. He makes it to the strange house of the Once-lor, and now it’s a good to discuss the animation. It’s pretty good. It’s bright, colorful and the designs give it a very “Suess” vibe. Even people who dislike the movie admit it’s nice to look it. It looks suitably “fake” in the town while it pulls off dirty well in the outside area.
Ted rings the doorbell and he meets the Once-Lor, voiced by Ed Helms. He….doesn’t want visitors and he tells Ted to bug off. That is, until Ted asks about trees.
“I didn’t know anyone still cared about trees”
Since Ted wants to know about trees, Oncelor decides to tell Ted the true story of how the trees died. Yeah, it’s moving fast again but trust me, this is where the movie gets good.
“It’s because of me”
The Oncelor tells Ted about his invention: The Thneed. It’s this…cloth….thing that could do amazing things. With that, the movie truly begins long ago, when Onceler was a young boy He was finally leaving home to change the world with The Thneed.
Naturally, his family hates him because the plot says so, and they think he will fail. We’ll see them later, but for now, our hero heads out, After a long journey he makes it to this lovely paradise full of the weird creatues from the book. Everything taking place in this area has the best anmation in the movie.
Also, Oncelor has an electric guuiatar because why not.
He quickly makes friends with these fish dudes, and bear dudes. They have names in the book but the movie leaves them out, so I shall too. But then the animals guys mad because…Oncelor hits them with stuff he threw out of his wagon, or something. He did mention cutting down the “Trufulla” trees but they didn’t react then, so I don’t get it.
Then he gives the animals marshmallows and they calm down. ….That was pointless. Especially since they run off when Once-y cuts down the first tree, for his Thneed.
“Little did I know, that by chopping that tree, I had summoned a mystical creature as old as time itself. The legnadry, slightyly annoying, guardian of the forrest, The Lorax”
Oh boy. Trust me guys, the movie gets really good once he shows up. But I think I’ll adress a complaint first: Showing Oncelor’s face. Okay, a lot of the complaints about the songs, and stuff , I get. But this…not really. Is showing his face that big of a crime?
The intent here, was to show that the thing ruining the environment is people. Giving him a face shows that any big, tree killer cooperation, starts with a guy with a dream. It actually enforces the message pretty well. You could say O Hare kind of ruins this, (which only shows why we didn’t need a villain) but it’s still shown fine with Oncelor.
Anyway, a big light appears in the sky and out comes the small, yellow, mustchaed Lorax. So….he’s jesus?
The Lorax is voiced by Danny Devito, so let’s talk about that. I was a bit weary of this casting, as good as it is. See, Jim Carrey as The Grinch and Horton worked because these characters will silly enough for that. The Lorax, on the other hand, is a dignified creature, so making hm silly is dumb.
But thankfully, we get a very dignified Lorax. The Lorax himself is well done, and the comedy with him is mixed in well. He shows up and is shocked by the tree being cut down. This is actually sad moment as he mourns the tree with the animals, and it’s all with no dialogue. Told you it gets good when The Lorax shows up.
The Lorax confronts the Oncelor about the tree.
“I speak for the trees.”
IRVING: He said the words!
“Are you telling me you just didn’t see me come out of that stump?”
Another movie character steals my job.
Once-y doesn’t like The Lorax and he pretty much acts like a dick to him, while The Lorax is being awesome. Oncelor is a dick of a dick, and ignores The Lorax for no reason, it’s kind of fun and he needs to be a dick for the plot.
“If you’re not gone by the time the sun sets on this valley, all the forces of the nature will be unleashed upon you, and curse you until the end of time. You have been warned”
I think The Lorax might be the best character in terms of writing, because he is cool and he doesn’t get any dumbass jokes like Oncelor.
Back in the present, Oncelor stops the story and tells Ted he can hear the rest tomorrow. Yeah, he just stops it. I think this was not a good idea for one reason….I really like the backstory part and I don’t like the other stuff.
It makes some level of sense: He’s testing Ted. He wants to say if Ted REALLY cares about trees and wants to hear the story. I mean, Ted is here because of a girl. Yeah, that bugged people but those people weren’t paying attention. It starts out that way, but as the movie goes on, we see him care about trees.
By doing this, Ted is tested and his starts to come back because he cares, not just to get some pussy. It’s decent development and thus, that complain is bullshit. So Ted leaves and we cut to the next morning as Ted is forced to do some family time. It’s as bad as it sounds.
It is thankfully cut short, and Ted leaves to meet the Oncelor. Oh yay, even he knows his story isn’t interesting. Sadly, Ted is confronted by O Hare and his goons. O Hare found out about Ted’s tree thing (we saw it on some security camera), and because he’s evil, he doesn’t like it one bit.
After telling Ted to stay in town, he lefts him leave. Then as soon as O Hare is goon, Ted leaves town. Okay, we established O Hare has cameras all over town, so how did he not see this?!
Anyway, Ted visits Oncelor, who is impressed that Ted is back already.. After some banted, we get back to the good part. That night, The Lorax his his bear goons take Oncelor while he’s sleeping, and put his whole bed in the river, to get rid of him.
But that fails because Oncelor falls until the river and he can’t swim. Also, they actually do say the name of the Bear things: Barb-a-loots. Cool.
Long story short, Lorax saves Oncelor from a waterfall and all that good stuff. Oncelor is happy until he finds out that the Lorax threw up in there to start with. Lorax explains that he doesn’t want Oncelor here, chopping down trees.
“Okay….I swear I will never chop down another tree”
We’re 39 minutes in. I’ll say the time again when chops down another tree.
The next morning, The Lorax and his pals are in Once-y’s home because Lorax wants to keep an eye on him. I must, the humor is hit or miss with some funny parts, and some dumb parts. The dumb parts being the pop culture references, like how in the last scene, the fish sing the Mission Impossible thing cuz that’s what da kidz are into these days I guess.
After some antics, Oncelor heads into to town to sell his Thneed. It…doesn’t work out for the first…several days. After some failure,s he quits he but throws a thneed away and it is discovered by a girl and long story short, she likes it and people like her cuz she has one.
A bit later, the citizens show up at Oncelors place asking for a thneed. Yeah, it’s a “it sucks until a cool person likes it kind of thing. They even sing a song about it, called Everybody needs a Thneed. It’s another meh song but at least the lyrics are okay this time.
Sadly, the story stops again but after only a couple minutes of Ted scenes, he goes back to Oncelor. Why even stop the story if we’re just gonna come back a few minutes later? It just hurts the pacing.
Young Oncelor is visited by his family, because they needed to be here for the plot to move forward. They pretend to like Oncelor as they are here to work for him. The Lorax doesn’t want them here and he gets angrier when Oncelor says his whole operation is getting bigger.
“A tree falls the way it leans. Be careful which way you lean”
And so it begins. The movie’s real strength starts now, as the entire journey from here to when things fall down, is very well done. You’ll see.
A bit later, Oncelor is told that harvesting the tufts from the trees for the Thneeds takes too long. This chick suggests cutting down the trees.
“I guess it couldn’t hurt to cut down a few trees…”
They cut down a tree, and naturally, The Lorax is not pleased but he fails to stop him as he is kicked out but this fat lady. Lorax tells Once-y he broke his promise, but he isn’t swayed.
“I’m not bad. I’m the good guy here. He just doesn’t get it”
Yeah, I know Oncelor knows that trees are important to The Lorax already but if you ignore that, this is fairly interesting.
“Something good finally happens to me and he just has to come along and rain on my parade?”
So Oncelor heads out….and we get another song. Which happens to be the only good song in the movie. It’s “How bad can I be?” in which Oncelor sings about how he’s cutting down the trees and there’s nothing bad about what he’s doing. We see his business grow as the Forrest starts to get ruined big time.
Some people hate this song (especially detractors f the film) while fans, and even some non fans love it. I like it. Yeah, it’s a rock song in Dr Suess and it has some lame jokes that drag it down, but it’s really catchy and it shows that Oncelor is getting too greedy for his own good.
The lyrics are solid enough too, including a part that mocks the excuse companies use for doing this stuff:
“A portion of procedes goes to charity”
Most of the visuals are cool too. My favorite part is when The Lorax picks up a Thneed and a dude takes a picture of it, throws it on a billboard, and slaps “Lorax approved in it”. Yep, someone is using the Lorax’s image to sell something harmful.
That’s like putting his face in Mazda commerc-OH WAIT. Yeah, I don’t like that either but the makes of the film had little to do with it AND they mock it in the film itself.
I get it if someone hates the song, but I think it’s cool. But if you want a far better version, check out the cut osng “Biggering”, featured on the soundtrack. It has the same point as this but it’s not a rock song, it’s slower, and it better shows The oncelor getting greedy. It’s really cool and I wish it was in the movie instead of this.
After the song, production is in full swing with trees being cut the air being polluted. However, Oncelor is super rich and that is all he cares about. The Lorax visits him to show his disapproval again.
The Lorax tells him that this is bad and he made a promise back when he was a nicer man. I must say, as much as I like this, it is a tad rushed. He only just started and he’s the big evil rich guy. Like I said, the pacing really needed some work. Perhaps cutting out the pointless villain, Ted’s family, and pretty much everything besides the good parts.
“I intend to keep on Biggering and biggering and turning more truffula trees into thneeds. And nothing is going to stop me!”
With that, the final tree is cut. The entire Forrest is polluted wasteland….with no trees.
“The last one. That may stop you.”
Oncelor sees what he did. Not long after that, his business is shut down, his family leaves, and he has nothing. On of that, the animals leave because they obviously they can’t live here anymore.
The Lorax watches in silence at what the Onceler has done, and he quietly floats back into the sky, as Onceler watches with regret. The Lorax has left a stone with the word “Unless” writen on it.
Onceler finishes his story, as he confirms that it’s all his fault. He says that ever since the Lorax left, he has been regretting everything he has done. He has been thinking about that word, and what it meant. Eventually, he got it.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not”
There. There it is. The best scene in the entire movie, and it just PERFECT. It’s incredibly depressing, and it really shows the tragedy of the situation. The Oncelor let his greed get the best of him, and now everything he sucks. Most of it it silent and that really drives the point home in a good way. No dumb jokes, no added bullcrap. It’s just pure excellence.
The moral is done in a solid way isn’t subtle, but still good. Tell me, how is THAT ruining the message at all? How is that Suess Zero? How can you flat out HATE this thing with a scene like….and with the existence of Crap in the hat?
I don’t know, but it’s brilliant. Any complaints I have about this film are moot thanks to that scene. Anyway, The Onceler gives Ted the last Truflla seed. Where he got it is never explained in the book either.
He tells Ted to bury it in town where everyone can see. Now we see that Ted actually cares about trees and it’s no longer about a girl. See?
So now Onceler’s story is over and we have more movie left. Yeah, there is a happy ending but hey, the book/special ended with some hope so it’s not too bad. Plus, the moral is still there, no matter how it ends.
Ted heads home first but he is visited by O hare, who knows about the seed and wants it. Ted’s mom kicks O hare out before he can find it though. Ted looks at the seed and sees that it is growing because some water got on it. This movie has a yellow jesus coming out of the sky. I can guy that.
Audrey shows up at that moments and Ted shows the seed to her. So now they all head out to bury the seed and save the day. O hare sees them and cue a long, fun pointless chase. To make a long story short, they make it to town square and make a spot to plant the seed.
O hare pops up AGAIN and tells all the citizens that trees suck. But Audrey eventually tells everyone that he hates trees because they make REAL air for free. This doesn’t sway the people but Ted uses a bulldozer to knock down the wall separating Thneedville from the polluted outside world.
The citizens finally see that Thneedvilla sucks and they must change their ways.
“We can start by planting this”
And with that citizens turn around and boom, we get out last song. Yeah, there aren’t that many songs which makes the fact that they suck even worse. This last one, “Let it Grow” has everyone singing about how we need to let the tree grow and yada yada yada.
It’s not awful but like the first song, it feels too much like a crappy pop song. It has less of that than the first one, and it’s not the worst, but it’s just not as good as it could have been. Again, I don’t hate but meh.
By the way, even during the epic crowd song, Taylor Swift’s mouth is shout. Why was she cast again?
Anyway, the citizens see the error of their ways and plan the seed. O Hare does try to stop him but they make him piss off. God, he was a crappy villain. The tree grows and this epic event finally gets old Oncelor out of it his house.
The one tree growing somehow leads to others showing up and the Oncelor starts watering one himself. To make this moment even better, The Lorax comes back.
“You done good, Beanpole. You done gone”
Some kid say this somehow ruins the message but I think seeing this was really cool. The two hug and it’s another sweet, quiet scene. And so we fade out in true Meet the Robinsons fashion, we see the following quote from Dr suess.
“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not”
Still a great line. Also, this flat out has a quote and people still say this is a disgrace. …I bitched about the hate less than I thought I would, actually.
And with that, the movie ends. Yeah, it’s an abrupt ending, but this really works very well. We see some sweet stuff and the message, simple as it is, is there. The message in the book was about the same. The only thing changed was the journey to the moral, which you can bitch about all you want.
After watching and reviewing this one again, I can that it has plenty of flaws, but it’s still pretty decent. Like I said, the book was my favorite and while the original special is 1000000000000000 times better in every way, this is a decent extension. They extent the backstory in a way that gives new weight to the characters, and it’s pretty solid.
I think Ani-Mat put it best when he said the best writer is Dr Suess. Anything taken from the book, or is a natural extensors of it, is good. The new stuff is hit or miss. With the animtion, and some of the humor. The story itself is well done when it’s at it’s best, and I don’t have much in terms of complaints there.
But let’s get the actual problems. Sometimes the humor get be a bit too “Modern” and like I said, the songs, for the most part, are lame. On top of that, the villain sucks, Audrey is bland, and Betty White is just there for more “Hip” humor.
The pacing is also a problem, with the film going too fast at times. I think if they cut down (see what I did there?) some of the Ted parts, and focused more on the backstory, the film would have been a lot better.
On the bright side, both Onceler and The Lorax are well written and get decent development. The Onceler is sympathetic and The Lorax is just cool. The other characters aren’t too great but they aren’t in it for too long. Ted, while bland, is perfectly acceptable.
They handle the message fine, and while the film could have been better, the good parts are good enough to make up for it. Yes, it’s flawed but they put honest effort into it and it’s by no mean the soulless sellout people make it out to be.
The Lorax is a fun film with a good heart, even if it’s deeply flawed. That’s all I got..
Your move, Critic.
Man, I’ve had a tough week. I reviewed a weak movie, got sick, almost revieiwed a Kevin James movie,.and I got bitter about an overhated movie. I really need a break. I need a good, fun, flick. Something awesome…