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I'm not gonna lie - one of the reasons I want to learn digital painting is for the ecological aspect. I love drawing on paper, but sometimes I feel like such a threat to trees.

So, yesterday I went to see the Lorax. And here the review. But first! Some context :

As most of you know, the Lorax is something created by Dr. Seuss in his very unique books. I've discovered the books of Dr. Seuss only very recently. See, since he uses mostly ply-on-words and creative rhymes to create an interesting story, his books aren't very easy to translate. I'm pretty sure they got translated, but I doubt they were popular at all in French. So I never grew up with the books, like so many did. The only Seuss character that was around in my childhood was the Grinch - The animated Christmas special had been translated and played every year. And I watched it in English too, even if I didn't understand much of it. I checked out the books recently after a few people told me I should. I really like them. I can see why they are so important for so many. And a lot of people were angered by the new Lorax movie, saying it destroyed their childhood. Is that accurate? Let's see.

For those who don't know, the story of the Lorax goes like so : It's about a man called the Once-ler that travels to a palce filled with cute animals and truffula trees, aka trees made of fluff. With said fluff, the Once-ler knits an all-purpose garment that is really popular. Instead of picking carefully the tree fluff, the Once-ler chops down the trees, even though he has no purpose for the trunk. To make more money, he calls in his family, so they can make the production go faster. They cut more and more trees, gradually destroying the truffula tree ressources, which is not only bad for the environment, but also for the Once-Ler himself, since he looses his ressource in the end, his money and family. All the while this is happening, the protector of the forest, called the Lorax (who is a mystical creature of some kind), follows the Once-ler around to tell him to stop. The Lorax acts as a conscience that is never really heard. This whole tale is told by the now alone and broken Once-Ler, vis flashback. As he is telling it to a boy, and ends up giving the last truffula seed to the boy, so that someone new and full of hope can care for the forest.

Basically, it's all about saving the environment because destroying it is very, very stupid.

The original book (and the 1972 animated movie) came out during a time where companies were very motivated to grow very, very fast and often cutted corners to save time, even if it destroyed the planet. In the original book, the Once-ler is a faceless pair of green arms, representing the faceless corporate america, and the Lorax as a lot of "hippie" characteristics. The Once-ler was very greedy, spoke fast, always stayed egocentric and kinda mean. The original is dark, complex, has strong morals and represents the 70's quite well.

The new version has the same story as the original, but with a lot of parts added in, and the story somewhat "softened". In the 2010 version, the boy who seeks out the Once-Ler (now named Ted), does it, at first, to get a truffula tree seed to impress a girl. He lives in a very clean town, that is only clean because the inhabitants shove all their crap outside of town, and refuse to acknowledge that pollution exists. So, getting out of town to hear the Once-ler's story (which he has to do thrice), is always a challenge. The Once-ler in this version is kinder. We see him as a young man, when he first cuts down the truffula trees, and he's pretty much an adorable hipster. He actually tries to do what the Lorax tells him (harvest the trees rather then cut them), but under the influence of his family, he gets greedy and corrupted and then allt he trees are cut down. The Once-ler in the original was driven. This one is spineless. But it does add something "modern" to the tale. The Once-ler often uses excuses such as "If I don't do it, someone else will", etc, etc. He got carried away, and destroyed. But he's still seeking redemption, which is something that was in the original, but a bit less. Basically, the Once-ler's attitude in the 2010 flick, mixed with the whole "can't see poluution lalalala" attitude of the townsfolk kinda tells kids that it's not just big evil companies that pollute, but also normal, friendly people. It teaches kids that you can't just ignore a problem, you have to care. Which is what Ted does in the end. After hearing the Once-ler's story, he doesn't want the seed just to give it to the girl, he wants to plant it in the middle of town, for all to see.

So, is the new movie good? Heh. More or less. It's okay. It's okay with a couple of really good parts.

I liked how they changed the moral a bit to fit the way people think today. But they still felt like they needed a second corporate villain, since they made the Once-ler nicer. And to me, that was useless. Instead, they should have focused more on the Once-ler's elevation into "evil" (it's really, really short in the movie. It's a song) and have given the Once-ler more "grieving" screentime. And it was hinted at that the towns people created the pollution and didn't care. But the main person opposing Ted was the corporate villain guy. Really, it should have just been the townspeople. It's easy to turn an angry mob into scary villains. People are scared of the unknown. I think that without the second villain, the message could have been stronger.

Ted was great, some of the changes to Once-ler's story were great, the Lorax was great. But the focus of the movie was not well done. It really should have been focused on the Town's people's fear and ignorance and on the Once-ler's downfall. There's a good 45 minutes used up for the weird subplot with villain number two that could have been put to better use. Also, the musical numbers (save one) are weak. And the movie feels like it wanted to be a musical but gave up half-way. There's too much "cute animal random stuff" too.

Basically, it's an okay movie, and it's fun to have an ecological movie that is attractive to young audiences. But it could have been better. A lot better. It had the potential to be amazing, because the source material is amazing, and some of the new things added in had a lot potential. So, generally, it's worth a rental, and it will entertain you the first time you watch it, but I think it deserves another remake in 40 years.


- Isa


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August 2013

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