Mary Poppins said a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. With the Lorax the 3D animation experience is coated in syrup, sprinkled in hundreds and thousands and covered in orange candy floss. The experience was fun, immersive and thought provoking. It’s amazing to see how the on screen interpretations of the very simple yet iconic 2D illustrations from the Dr Seuss books have developed over the last few years. We remember the first live action movie that came through the mastery of Ron Howard and Jim Carrey when “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” arrived in cinemas in 2000. Now with the enhanced development of computer animation the cartoons really do ‘live’ on screen.
The 1971 book by Dr Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) focussed on saving the environment and forty years later the same message is more topical than ever through society. The cute factor is always a great endearing character to bring in a serious message. The use of fluffy funny teddy bears and ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ singing fish is a great backdrop amongst the forests of zebra trunked candy floss shedding trees. The quality of animation of all aspects of people, animals and objects is so brilliant you do want to reach out and hug the screen.
The story for Seuss noobs surrounds a young man called Once-ler (Ed Helms) making his way in the world to the comic relief of his family. He sets out and discovers the Truffula trees that will give him the material for his famous Thneeds. This one size fits all device sells like mad and the crowds want more. More Thneeds means less trees and the environment pays a heavy price. So what to do with the predicament for the environment? Enter the Dr Seuss version of Jiminy Cricket, the Lorax, a humble bundle of fluff who rides in on a storm and leaves by the seat of his pants, literally. Danny DeVito is an inspired choice for the voice of the Lorax and brings just the right amount of charm and some whimsical sarcasm for flavour.
Once the backstory is told we enter the modern day and meet Ted (Zac Efron) as he stumbles through early puppy love over the artistic Audrey (Taylor Swift). The flowing red locks and sparkly voice are a magnet for this relationship but how to win her heart. Ted finds out that in their community no one knows what a tree is. They embrace artificial trees with disco lights and suck on bottles of produced air but the idea of nature is long lost to the monopoly of big business. But here Ted finds a shared dream when Audrey says she will marry the man who produces a real tree.
Setting off on his motor-unicycled journey takes Ted out of the glass bubble of his world to seek out a Truffula tree in the vast darkness of harvested fields long forgotten. When he finds his way to the house of the Once-ler the encounter inspires young Ted and puts him at odds with a newly introduced character, the “Air Mogul” O’Hare played superbly by Rob Riggle. The battle ensues for the last Truffula Tree seed and a case for growth and photo-synthesis will eventually win the day. It’s an enjoyable ride and worth the weird, the wacky and the familiar. In amongst the key characters watch for Ted’s Grandma played by Betty White and initially you may be forgiven for thinking Ted’s Mum is the ‘Nanny’, Fran Drescher but it’s actually Jenny Slate.
When the people who brought you Despicable Me say they want to bring Dr Seuss to a new audience you can take them seriously with both the message and the vehicle. Despicable Me’s Director Chris Renaud returned to the camera on this one and did an amazing job with this seriously funny film. This should give more than a pinch of delight to those who have just found out he will be delivering us Despicable Me 2 in 2013.
Probably one of the best cartoon 3D movie experiences I have enjoyed where the landscape and action pieces all have the right depth of story and imagery to immerse you in the message of the Lorax.
4 out of 5 popcorns