BY JUSTIN ZARIAN
Rating: *1/2 out of ****
For a film trying to criticize the evils of corporate greed, “The Lorax” is about as corporate a product as you can get.
It is hollow, loud, flashy and really not worth the price. This truly is the pot calling the kettle black.
The first problem this movie had was actually adapting a 72-page Dr. Seuss classic into a 90-minute film. First the writers decided to throw in an unnecessary subplot about Zac Efron trying to impress Taylor Swift by finding the last tree. Then they added “wacky” characters like Jenny Slate doing unfunny shtick or Betty White playing herself so they can put their names on the credits. Then they threw in plenty of nonsensical gags intended to be “satirical” and “hip” but only serve to be obnoxious (was that a parody of a commercial or just a commercial?).
[pullquote]It all plays out like filler to hide the fact this story could have been told in a ten-minute short film[/pullquote]
Then they threw in some truly awful musical numbers that are boring, overlong and unfunny. Finally, they decided to turn the forest animals into the Minions from “Despicable Me” in attempts to get laughs by their goofy antics. I am sorry, but when the best you can think of is having the fish sing the theme from “Mission: Impossible,” you know this is purely a gimmick. It all plays out like filler to hide the fact this story could have been told in a 10-minute short film (which Chuck Jones did brilliantly in 1972).
The lavish animation does not help much. It is certainly colorful and there are some good character models, but it is all overkill. The animators want to impress you so much that they throw in everything and anything they can think of in one shot. All of these bright colors and kinetic movements will give you a headache, especially in 3D.
There is also the sad fact that intricate sequences like dodging razor blades or the Once-ler’s bizarre music video segment are just filler to get to the next gag. The actions of the characters are over-animated and overacted, removing any subtlety to their design and personality. The animators should have followed a “less is more” philosophy here.
The worst is that there is really no heart to this film. None of the voice actors give truly entertaining performances to make us like their characters. The actual story of the book is barely a third of the plot. The Once-ler has been changed from an entity of corporate evil to a goofy rock n’ roll simpleton who is only “evil” because of his greedy family. Heck, The Lorax is barely in the movie! It is only after a lot of filler we got to see Zac Efron give a preachy last-minute speech on the importance of trees, which is too little too late.
So was it even fun to watch? Well, during the “action packed” finale, a third of my theater had fallen asleep. I think that should answer that question.