The Lorax

DR SEUSS’ THE LORAX

Tim Evans,1 August 2012, DR SEUSS’ THE LORAX

 

Dr Seuss’ ecologically sound tale of a synthetic world where nature has been destroyed is brought to the big screen by the creators of Despicable Me. Twelve-year-old Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) strays beyond the walls of plasticised city Thneedville in search of the Mythical Truffula Tree. He’s aided in his quest by the enigmatic Once-ler, a tragic character who lives a life of regret after felling every tree to feed his rapacious business and The Lorax, a bewhiskered guardian of the forest voiced by Danny DeVito.

 

It may be more than 40 years old but never has Dr Seuss’ cautionary tale of rampant industrialisation and corporate greed been more terrifyingly pertinent.

The action takes place in Thneedville, vile, day-glo metropolis where everything natural – from grass to the very air that is breathed – has been commodified, branded and sold back to the proles.

Among then is 12-year-old Ted, a game youngster who is tempted to stray beyond the vast steel city walls when Audrey (Swift), the girl of his dreams, daydreams about seeing a real tree.

Ted finds himself in a vast, post-apocalyptic desert of scorched earth and tree stumps where he finds the mysterious Once-ler (Helms), a regretful recluse who reveals his shameful part in the rise of Thneedville.

Years before he betrayed his promise to the forest guardian the Lorax (DeVito) that he wouldn’t fell another tree and – egged on by his greedy family – proceeded to raze the arboreal Eden that is Truffula Valley.

Now – through Ted – he’s got the means to make amends…if the youngster can nurture one single Truffula tree to grow in the antiseptic wastes of Thneedville.

Beautifully rendered and charmingly told, this family animation packs more of an environmental punch than most kids’ fare.

Particularly notable characters include Aloysius O’Hare (Rob Riggle), a pint-sized corporate titan with the look of Michael McIntyre and the same infernal plans for world domination through his control of the market in plain air.

However, the competing existence of three main characters – Ted, Once-ler and the Lorax – dilutes the narrative thrust of the tale as we swing back between stand-alone storylines.

The result is that it feels the film-makers are trying to cram too much into the 90-minute, kiddie-friendly running time.