Monday, March 12, 2012

The Lorax

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax ~ I learned to read very early, thanks to my big sister, starting with Dr. Seuss favorites like "Hop on Pop," "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish," "Fox in Socks" and of course the classics like "The Cat in the Hat" and "Green Eggs and Ham." And although I quickly graduated to comic books, and then real books, I never lost my love of the Doctor (in this case, Seuss, not the guy with the TARDIS).

Though I had never actually read the book I do distinctly remember my first encounter with "The Lorax." The night the animated version premiered on CBS I was allowed to stay up later than usual to watch it. I was interested but not very because I thought that previous TV versions of Seuss' work, excepting the Grinch, we're inferior to the source material. Yes, even at seven, I was nurturing a critical mind.

I had not just a critic's thought process, but I was also pretty hip to propaganda, even if it was positive propaganda. I had seen the Justice League fight pollution and promote ecology in the comics, and it had hit a sour note with me. It's not that I don't believe in the causes, I do, it's just I'm very against being fed a message in lieu of a story or characterization. I saw that hand at work in "The Lorax." The bottom line is I don't mind being educated while I'm entertained - I just don't want to be preached at.

Which brings all the way back to 2012 and the movie Dr. Seuss' The Lorax. The Bride and I saw it in 3D, so we spent far far too much to get in. By my estimation, this would have been fine in just plain 2D. There's still a message here in this expanded tale of the Lorax, but really not enough to annoy me. Trust me, it's still there, but nothing like Lou Dobbs and other conservatives have exclaimed (and did I read right, did they call "The Lorax" a novel?). It is clear, not at all subtle, but not overbearing either.

Instead I got to enjoy the fun relationship between Ted (Zac Effron) and Audrey (Taylor Swift), watching Ted escape the city in interesting ways, and hearing the moral yet endearing story of The Once-ler (Ed Helms) and the appropriately annoying (here at least) Danny DeVito in the title role. There is also the predictable role for Betty White. No offense, honey, I love ya, but it's getting old. There were a few pointless scenes, like the chase at the end with the seed. I almost wanted to yell at the screen, "Give it to Wall-E, he'll keep it safe!"

All in all though, it was good, and non-offensive. Add a fun original soundtrack (no excuses for only two nominees in the Best Song category at next year's Oscars) and you have yourself an entertaining hit movie. I don't have a good record with Seuss properties turned into films (note the Grinch and Horton), but this one's a winner.

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  1. I think I completely skipped over Dr Seuss when I was a kid. Or, and this is very possible, I just don't remember. I think, even then, I may have been all: what is this guy smoking? I just don't have this deep, endearing love for his books. Not that I hate them, but he doesn't get me to my special place.

    That being said, I read quotes from his books and I think: yikes, I really missed out. Go figure.

  2. Looking back on it, I'd have to say it was more the tongue twisters and wordplay that ensnared me, more than weirdness or moral lessons.

    Although I have always dug the Warner Bros. cartoon version of Horton Hatches an Egg from 1942. And the Boris Karloff Grinch.

    As far as kids programming that freaked me out - Krofft. The Bride still loves those shows. I think they did a LOT of acid.

  3. I'm glad I read your blog on the movie, because the youngest wants to see it and I'll be more willing to go.

  4. Our family really enjoyed the movie. My kids are still singing the "Let it Die" verse from the "Let It Grow" song in the end. They find the irony just too funny.

    I have to agree with you on the heaviness/forcefulness of some of the social undertones presented animated films. One example that comes to mind is "Wall-E." In some ways, I like that these films are created with social issues in mind, but like you, you can tell when they're pontificating as opposed to educating.

    "Green Eggs and Ham" was my favorite Dr. Seuss book.

  5. heironymous2:24 PM

    First things first, I have to say that children will love (or really like) this movie. It follows the "hollywood" script that most animated films follow these days to be successful.

    Now as someone who read the book, this film was not very close to what Dr. Seuss gave us in print or even in the animated short. The scenery was close, but the elongated script, added songs, and overall storyboard created a revisioning of the tale. I guess they had to do this in order to stretch the source material into a feature length film. It was this story "stretching" that I think failed.

    Did it even keep within the spirit of the book? I would have to say no.

    But, to be fair, there are people who did see this film and received it differently than I. They do not share my opinion. I guess I feel that those who like this film are more likely to be someone that did not read the book but have taken it on its own merits. Which is fine. I guess that is why the Dr. Seuss' is in small type and The Lorax is in bigger type. More of "The Lorax" in this film than of Dr. Seuss.

  6. I really didn't mind the adding to the story. It didn't seem as false as it has with other Seuss projects.

    Thanks all for the comments!