So I saw The Lorax last night. After an absolutely brutal January and February for movies, I finally felt it was safe to venture back to the cinema and give 2012 a chance. I was drawn in by the promise of Dr. Seuss magic, animated charm and colorful and vibrant characters—in brilliant 3D. And I got all of that, for the most part. But what I also got was a splitting headache, mainly from the bad production numbers and from the message being pounded into my head over and over and over and over. Now I understand that Dr. Seuss is all about simple morality tales. And there’s nothing wrong with that, especially when you’re trying to get through to kids. But it’s another thing entirely when that message isn’t tempered at all with nuance or variance—or subtlety. I can’t imagine the message wasn’t delivered in all its magnitude in the first fifteen minutes of the movie, which meant we were left with another 75 minutes of the same thing. Ok, we get it.
Still, I braved a theatre full of kids on a Friday night after a long week because I wanted to smile. And, in spite of all its simplicity and hammer-it-home morality, The Lorax is predictably adorable, fun to watch and gives you all the zip-bang action and bright colors that you need to keep a kid today entertained—or an adult just amused enough to not care about all the restless kids behind them.
I’m a sucker for cute characters, and The Lorax keeps ‘em coming. I wish, though, that The Lorax had been a little more “Seuss-ian.” When you think of Dr. Seuss, you think of really bizarre and odd creatures, ones that could come only from the imagination of one of history’s greatest children’s book authors. But The Lorax is just a little too middle-of-the-road, relying far too much on ordinary—human—characters to tell the story. And those human production numbers? Just kill me. While I’m all for kids embracing the musical genre, when you stuff big musical numbers into a movie just to fill time, it’s painful. Especially when you can’t understand a single word they’re singing.
Alas, The Lorax didn’t kick off 2012 with the bang I had hoped, but it certainly did make me smile and, sometimes, that’s all you really need.