If you were ever a child, you are probably familiar with Doctor Seuss's 'The Lorax', a tale of a world where man's greed and selfishness has eradicated all the trees in favor of their escapist man-made town. It's a charming yet somewhat depressing book as the main character realizes what he's destroyed, yet leaves a glimmer of hope at the end as he passes off the last tree seed to a young boy to plant. As a kid, I loved the bittersweet end, as it got the message across and made me want to care about preserving nature.
The movie, on the other hand, left me thoroughly unimpressed. Let me get the good parts out of the way first. Naturally, the art style is fantastic and whimsical, as all Seuss work is. Danny Devito does a great job as the Lorax, and I feel it's pretty safe to say that the parts of the story actually focusing on the Lorax himself were indeed enjoyable. That is, with the exception of a badly placed musical number, which makes any sorrow at the trees being destroyed seem diluted. You should be upset that the Lorax leaves us, but I was more upset that I WASN'T upset.
Unfortunately, the part of the story focusing on the boy trying to find a tree was tiresome. It's a case where the book was more dramatic than the story - nature had been ravaged, and nobody cared about it except for one boy. In the movie, it's basically all because of some horribly stereotyped evil characters - Once-ler himself is painted as naive but still a good person, but the creators apparently didn't want him to seem corrupt in chopping down all the trees so they have his redneck family do it for him. And the business tycoon Mr. O-Hare is just ridiculously evil. I'm not going to say that big businessmen shouldn't be villains or anything like that , but the point of the original book was that all of mankind had stopped caring, whereas the movie says it's the fault of Once-ler and O'hare entirely, the latter of who deliberately is keeping people clueless about trees. I just feel the ending would have been far more dramatically appropriate if, instead of having a cliché'd (and underwhelming) chase scene where he shows everybody O'hare is evil, if he instead needed to actually CONVINCE people that trees were worth caring about (he convinces them by knocking down a wall at the end. Apparently in the last 15 or so years nobody had even once looked outside.) Additionally, when he finally plants the seed, all the other trees start growing again. Not sure how, but it makes me wonder - if that's all it took, why didn't Once-ler try to plant the seed 15 years ago?
Also, they throw in a 'hip grandmother' pretty much entirely because they know grandparents will be taking their kid. At one point the romantic interest actually says 'Wow, how cool is your grandmother'. This bothered me for some reason. Perhaps because I have no soul.
Also, it's apparently a musical, something that the ads failed to mention. I'm not against musicals, but the combined fact that 1.) i wasn't prepared for that (Despicable Me, their previous movie, had none) and 2.) the music was... bland. I can't remember any of it and i just got out 20 minutes ago. Also, as I said earlier, one musical number completely ruins the tragic mood it tried to set with the trees getting chopped down.
I know that it can be hard translating a Seuss book, usually with only 20 or 30 pages, into a feature film is a tough task. But honestly, if you don't even get the theme right then you have failed in your task. Lorax is enjoyable in a lot of parts, but the parts that aren't AREN'T.
Final verdict: 5/10. Your kids might like it, but the uninspired music, botched ending, and boring finale are real game breakers.