Ted Wiggins (Zac Efron) is a 12-year-old resident of the futuristic city of Thneed-Ville, a place without nature and where everything is manufactured. Residents depend on the purchase of processed air controlled by Mr O’Hare (Rob Riggle), a greedy and conniving businessman who effectively runs Thneed-Ville.
Now Ted has a crush on his neighbour Audrey (Taylor Swift) and the one thing she would really love is a real tree. Not only that, finding a tree for her would win her heart.
Ted wastes no time in consulting his eccentric grandmother (Betty White), she tells him to seek out someone called The Once-ler (Ed Helms), a hermit banished to a life in the baron wastelands outside the protective walls of Thneed-Ville, who can help Ted track down a tree.
Over several visits to the outside world he learns the story of the Lorax (Danny DeVito), a mythical creature once responsible for ensuring natures survival after a younger Once-ler many years previous had made a fortune from chopping down trees. However the surrounding environment, animals and nature paid the price for his greed, whilst Mr O’Hare got rich, leading to the creation of the artificial Thneed-Ville.
It is up to Ted to act upon this new knowledge and finding a tree for Audrey may just be whats needed. So the synopsis is a little convoluted for what is definitely a kid’s movie, but it plays out much better on screen. It’s a funny, heartening and informative film about the dangers of succumbing to greed, and how the natural world suffers as a result. A substantial chunk of the film is told in flashback, focusing on the relationship between the Once-ler and The Lorax, their interactions making the most entertaining moments in the film.
The Lorax is a grumpy but charming deity, a stumpy orange human shaped being with a huge yellow moustache for which Danny DeVito has been perfectly cast (sorry Danny). His enthusiasm and gruffness steals every scene he is in, supported for maximum comedy effect by a number of charismatic woodland creatures and fish. Despite the good intentions the Lorax has in trying to educate its young audience on moral issues, the plight of Ted and Thneed-Ville, at times it seems a little too preachy, over playing their agenda.
Despite being arguably the most interesting character, the Lorax doesn’t get nearly enough screen time. Younger audiences may feel a little cheated, unless they can warm to the characters Zac Efron and Taylor Swift portray.
Perhaps I’m being unfair but I expected slightly more from the same creators of Despicable Me. The style is similar, the point of view roller-coaster style action sequences being one example which is more impressive and exciting in 3D.
There are plenty of visual gags and much happening in the background, with enough references to keep adults entertained too. Aesthetically, the film is wonderful, the animators having a field day with the imagining of the world created by Dr Seuss.
It touches upon the pitfalls of greed, capitalism, surveillance and of course mistreating the environment. “I speak for the trees!” the Lorax defiantly declares, perhaps because no one else is. A step in the right direction for a generation of younger audiences, I’m just not sure if they’ll see it that way.
The Lorax is at cinemas from July 27th