From the people who brought us the charming and funny Despicable Me bring us the not-so-charming and far less funny Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.
Based on the popular children’s book of the same name by the titular author, it follows a young boy called Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) who lives in Thneedville, a town where everything is artificial, including the air. On a mission to find a real tree for the girl (Taylor Swift) he loves, he goes to visit the mysterious Once-ler (Ed Helms) who tells him his story which involves him meeting the weird and, as the ads have stated, slightly annoying protector of the trees known as The Lorax (Danny DeVito).
Candy-coloured and upbeat in nature, The Lorax is not without its funny moments. Predictably for a modern day Hollywood animation there are gags in there for adults as well as the kids, but some of them hit the mark pretty well. Unfortunately that’s not enough to make up for just how cutesy and irksome it is, throwing in unnecessary songs whenever it feels like it and smacking you over the head with a message about environmental conservation and the evil of big corporations. This may have been there in the book and worked fine on the page but on-screen, at least with how directors Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda have handled it, it just comes off as grating and preachy.
The animation is the real plus point to the film, a beautifully crisp and colourful world fully realised. The voice work is top-notch as well with the likes of Zac Efron, Ed Helms and Danny DeVito fitting their characters well, although the ads really undersell just how annoying DeVito’s character is. There as the head finger-wagging representation of the film’s thinly veiled message, he actually drags the movie down even further in spite of him being the eponymous character.
Delivered in unnecessary and gimmicky 3D (they just keep piling on the annoying, don’t they?), Dr. Seuss The Lorax’s few effective laughs, stunning animation and clever voice casting fail to cover up just how precious and irksome the film ultimately is. And it’s so heavy-handed with its message that it may as well have the subtitle “Cutting Down Trees is Bad.” Many will be utterly charmed by it but I certainly wasn’t.