The Lorax (2012)
Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Taylor Swift, Zac Effron

I will forever remember The Lorax fondly because it is only the second movie Iíve ever seen in a theater completely alone. I love my movie-going friends, but if thereís one thing I love more than seeing a good movie with good friends, itís seeing any movie with nobody else in the theater.

Itís based, of course, on the Dr. Seuss picture book, the one about a world where there are no trees because of pollution and deforestation. Itís expanded in order to flesh it out and make it a movie, and the expansions basically work quite well, giving the storyís unnamed narrator a family story and a love interest. Ted (Zac Effron) is a boy who hears about ďtreesĒ from a girl he likes, and heís determined to get one for her. He lives in a town completely sealed off from the world, totally paved over and sealed in a bubble where oxygen is something you pay for, and one person owns the oxygen market. You can see why someone whoís cornered the market on oxygen would be reluctant for trees to be reintroduced to a city where photosynthesis doesnít exist.

To find a tree, Ted illegally leaves the confines of his city and meets the Once-ler (Ed Helms), a grouchy recluse who agrees to tell Ted the story of how he met the Lorax (Danny DeVito) and contributed to the end of the trees. The storyís pretty interesting, if a little too cutesy for my tastes, but I laughed aloud a few times at some of the clever lines. The Once-ler has my favorite bit of dialogue: ďWhen a guy does something stupid once, itís because heís a guy. But when he does it twice, itís to impress a girl.Ē The girl in this case is worthy of such stupidity, cutely played by Taylor Swift in a smart, earnest, charming way. You can see why Ted wants so much to get her a tree.

I get the feeling the 3D in this film might have been pretty good, but of course I saw it in 2D and the animation was good enough but certainly not great. It has kind of a shiny veneer that I donít dislike but which seems out of place on a world based on Dr. Seussís drawings. Maybe Iím just old, and I long for the lovely, matte-textured illustrations of a printed page.

If the lesson taught by the characters in the film is heavy-handed, it can be forgiven mostly because itís clearly a movie for young children, and shoot: the source material is pretty heavy-handed too. While I would have preferred something with the subversive message of, say, Yertle the Turtle, I suppose a good love-the-earth message like this certainly has its place. I was nicely (and solitarily) entertained and would buy this for my kids if I had any kids.

6/10 (IMDb rating)
63/100 (Criticker rating)