'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10Dr. Seuss books are tough to adapt for the screen. If you see The Lorax you'll know what I mean.
At heart, The Lorax does evoke the story from the classic book. The message about the dangers of deforestation and the need for balance is there, but it's clouded by a message about corporate greed that hits you over the head so hard you'll be seeing thneeds for days. Coupled with a PG rating that incorporates some scary-for-young-ones sequences and a story that focuses more on the mean-to-be-mean corporate overlord than the titular character, and you have a movie for kids that seems to forget the kids themselves, to much regret (okay, going to try to stop rhyming now).
The movie is cute, with goldfish characters taking the place of "cute sidekick" from the minions of Despicable Me by the same production team, bright visuals of truffula trees and happy forest creatures, and a wide-eyed pair of main characters who have parallel stories of self discovery. The voice acting is somewhat inconsistent, with a nearly all-celebrity cast delivering performances that bounce between properly impassioned and "going into a room, saying a line, and being paid a million dollars" as Chris Rock said at the 2012 Oscars. The core story is there, and does manage to shine through for the most part, but visual effects that are clearly there just to prove "Hey kids, 3D is cool and totally worth it!" and a couple of devastatingly bad songs (along with a couple very catchy, even great ones, oddly enough) distract more than enhance the story.
The ending of the film forgives a lot of the movie's earlier problems, with the message simplified and a real sense of hope at last shining through, but honestly it seemed too little too late.
The most disappointing thing about The Lorax, though, is the hard PG rating. Why a film that three and four year olds are anxious to see thanks to their love for the book would be anything but G is baffling. With sequences that will undoubtedly leave toddlers scared (terrifying machines, exceptionally mean moments, and the aforementioned terrible song that punches viewers in the face with "corporate greed is terrible and will eat your babies and blow up the world like a supervillain!"), it seems that in an effort to support 3D and make this a film slightly older kids and parents will enjoy, the filmmakers forgot that while this story stars a 12 year-old, Dr. Seuss's audience starts much younger. While trying too hard to create an "all-ages" movie, they lost the largest audience for Seuss's classic tales, and it really is a shame.
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax had the potential to bring a classic book beloved by generations to a new audience. Instead it brings a muddy message and mediocre music and acting to everyone but the audience it should be trying to reach. This may be worth watching for the general cuteness, the moments of actual fun (instead of scare tactics for the sake of scare tactics) and the last ten minutes or so of the film, but as a rental, not as a $19 3D IMAX outing, and certainly not for your toddlers.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!