Thneedville is a town that has long since lost the need for nature, wildlife or plantlife. As such, the town exists with plastic tress and the inhabitants have fresh air delivered to their homes. Ted (Zac Efron) has a crush on his neighbour Audrey (Taylor Swift) and, with the help of his Grandma, sets out to find The Once-ler (Ed Helms) in the hope of finding a tree to give to Audrey.
The Lorax is based on a Dr. Seuss story of the same name, and while details have been added to the movie – presumably to make it stretch to an 86 minute run time – the message of the story remains the same; the plight of the environment.
The voice talent does pretty well in the movie, although Zac Efron’s voice sounds a little too grown up for the character. Danny DeVito as The Lorax – he who speaks for the trees – is grumpy but charming and Ed Helms as The Once-ler is enthusiastic and fun. Betty White keeps up her record of playing almost every zany grandma on screen, and she works well as one of the catalysts for the story. The woodland creatures are charming, especially the singing goldfish who have no qualms about walking on land, and the constantly enthusiastic bears.
The style of animation feels a little strange for a Dr. Seuss story; audiences are familiar with the style of illustration used in the original books and the shiny, rounded look of CG animation is not quite right. That said, the worlds in the film are beautifully created along the lines of the original illustrations and, for the first time in a very long time, the 3D is used well.
Those who are familiar with the original story of The Lorax may have a little difficulty with the dialogue of the film; there are very few of Seuss’s original rhymes used in the film, and when they are used, they are gently mocked and brought crashing back to reality. This is a shame, as it is Seuss’s trademark whimsy and rhyming stories that made the stories what they are. Of course, things had to be changed for the sake of the running time, but the inclusion of a few more of Seuss’s words would have made for a stronger story.
In all, The Lorax is a charming story about the effect of carelessness and greed on the environment. While the animation may look a little too modern for a Seuss story, it is rather beautiful and the dialogue – although lacking Seuss’s style – conveys the message well. The Lorax is really aimed at younger children, but there is enough charm and a few giggles to keep the parents going as well.