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Feature FilmTalkback

“The Lorax” talkback

The Lorax, anyone? I’ll be seeing it an an ASIFA-Hollywood screening next week, so I’ll reserve judgement. I’m not trying to be negative, but the L.A. TimesKenneth Turan says “most of it not very good and not in keeping with the spirit of the Seuss original.” Claudia Puig disagrees in her 3-stars (out of four) write-up in USA Today, saying “it remains faithful to the spirit of Seuss.” A.O. Scott at the NY Times sums it up this way: “The movie is a noisy, useless piece of junk!”

How about you? Per usual, our talkback posts are open to those who have seen the film in a theater, and have a thoughtful opinion–pro or con.

  • I saw a screening last Saturday with my nephews and really enjoyed it. I tend to be an easy sell with this sort of thing, although I wasn’t much a fan of “Horton” (I appreciated the achievement of retaining the Seuss look to the characters and environments, but felt like the plot was stretched incredibly thin.)

    I think The Lorax succeeds more at expanding the story to feature length without it feeling stretched thin or seeming tacked-on to the original.

    I enjoyed all of the little funny business with the animals and wasn’t bothered at all by giving the movie a happy ending.

    I will confess to missing the rhymes, though.

  • The_Animator

    I just got back from seeing it. It was alright. Had some great animation in it. Nothing too special but I didn’t want to rip my eyes out, so that’s a plus!

  • Dave V.

    It had an AWESOME trailer before it, at least there’s that!

  • Cody

    I’ll concur with the ‘it was alright’ sentiment. It’s was fun, vibrant, and the animation was great – but when push comes to shove it’ll be forgotten by the end of the summer. I was surprised that there was so much singing in it – for some reason nothing about the way they promoted the movie had prepared me for musical numbers. Not that, that’s a bad thing – I found the ‘How Bad Can I Be’ number visually the most enjoyable moment of the movie.

    I could think of worse things to waste an hour forty five of your time. If anything, just shut off your mind and enjoy the simplicity of it.

  • Bud

    I’ve seen it twice now. The first time, I had a pretty negative reaction for some reason. The second time I saw it (tonight), I really enjoyed it.

    It’s not The Godfather, but it’s a VERY well produced film. I could go on about the imagined difficulties of distilling Dr. Seuss into a movie, but as an attempt to crack Geisel, this film is pretty earnest.

    The story in the film is pretty padded out. The framework is pretty much what you’d expect. The staging and entertainment value of these scenes is well handled.

    The animation is very well done, although I’d have to say that most characters didn’t exploit their individuality enough. Everything kinda’ moved the same. I have to believe this is due more to the clarity of the writing and difficulties of long distance production than the skill and artistry of those involved. That said, the acting was pretty cliche’.

    The film has a very clearly defined palette of color, texture, and lighting. Working within the designer’s goals, it succeeds beautifully. The lighting highlights the story, revealing the textures and other technical artistry we’re not supposed to notice. It comes together exceptionally well. Kudos!

    Like the movie or not, I’d have to say that all the work put into it is outstanding.

    I hope it does well at the box office. It deserves to do so.

    I look forward to this team creating an original film.

  • Taco Wiz

    I have so much to say about this movie. There were so many flaws, but also so many moments that screamed “this could be better”. There were obviously some very talented people working on it, and some of the ideas were very funny, but the pieces just didn’t fit together. I can tell they were trying.

    I think at some stage there was executive meddling. I blame those “dirty footed hippie ladies” for pretty much everything, but I swear there was a good movie hidden in this script.

    There were so many moments when I said “oh, I wish they did this” or “I would have done this differently”.

    I hate fanfiction, but I’m tempted to recreate this movie’s screenplay in a way that I think would be better.

  • Nate

    There were a number of things that I thought to myself this is super corny and lame. Then I think, this movie is not just targeted at the people who grew up reading this book but to kids right now and beneath those corny and cute moments is still the important message that kids will get: take care of the earth. So for that I’m glad they put this out there.

  • good thing it wasn’t as preachy as Wall-E.

    Well, i’ve seen the film. Nostaliga goggles for the book and TV special, or this film?

    would I have preferred the happy ending or the one that makes people think?

    Would I have prefered Pink Panther cartoon designs and animation or barely Seuss-ifed Despicable Me designs and animation.

    Betty White’s voice was the most reconizable in this time where Chris Rock offended REAL voice actors.

    Some of these questions I’ve mentioned before applies to Horton Hears A Who….

  • Taco Wiz

    I’d give anything to know what the notegivers did during this film’s production. As bad as it was, I am certain that at some stage it had to have been much better. The poses were really expressive and the character designs were appealing. The occasional, brief attempt at satire was very funny, and even though I hate modern music, How Bad Can I Be was really, really catchy.

    Maybe the mediocrity of the film wasn’t the executives’ fault, even though I normally blame for something like this. Maybe the people working on this just weren’t trying their best.

  • Gary Pearson

    This movie needed JOKES! It needed some funny situations where characters get in trouble and laughter ensues. It needed funny lines. It was sincere and it expanded the story of the Suess book well enough, but man, it ultimately was dull. When I think of Up or The Incredibles or the Dreamworks ones like Shrek or Puss in Boots, there are genuine belly laughs. This movie had none. I watched in a full theatre and nearly the only laughs were during the 3 D demo at the start from the little yellow guys from Despicable Me.

  • michaelhughes

    The Onceler flashbacks felt like an acid trip. The guitar he would randomly play. All the animals are staring at him all the time. They magically love him when he gives them those marshmellows, which just makes no sense. The whole thing went at a crazy pace, something like Goodfellas. The way that nobodies trains of thoughts made any sense in the movie was weird at first, but that culminated in him turning evil for some reason, in in one of the greatest sensory overload music video sequences I’ve ever seen. This was not a good movie, but I had the most visceral, awesome time in the theater. I highly recommend it on that level.

    I took the moralizing and the blatant Wall-E rip off sequence as some kind of commentary on the very idea of moralizing in a children’s animation film. The dialogue was so stilted, the “idealogical” nature of getting the seed was so hamfisted, I can’t see it as anything but the finale of the most subversive animated children’s film of all time.

  • Karl Hungus

    The preachiest movie I have ever seen. I’m mad at the people who made it for proving Lou Dobbs right.

    • CJ

      There are preachier movies. ;)

  • Mackenzie

    I’m part of the minority that really enjoyed the movie. I think it’s the best of the feature films inspired by Suess (Horton, Grinch, Cat & the Hat).

    Sure, it wasn’t completely Suess. But I thought the took a short story and enlarged it keeping the original spirit true. Of course they had to add some times.

    I’ll admit, it was sappy at some parts. But overal it was colorful and darling. I enjoyed the songs.

    The Once-ler has got Suess fans talking, bc he isn’t shown in the books. I was suprised that he was a tall hipster looking guy. But I liked him, I thought he was the best part of the movie. I think having him as a human was more relatable to the message than a big scary monster. Plus he’s basically Ed Helms!

    As someone else already mentioned, the best part of the movie was The Once-ler’s “How bad can I be?’ song. I already have it on my ipod!

    • CJ

      “How Bad Can I Be?” Is the saving grace to those who may consider this movie to be a flop. I liked the film, but this song and the fairer message behind it (compared to the 70’s film) made me love it.

      • Mackenzie

        Yes it is great. There is one youtube comment on the song I noticed that said “This song can be a theme song to any of the GOP candidates”. I was suprised, but I relistened to it. And holy freedom fris, it totally fits.

        I don’t want to start a political fight, but I agreed with that statement. I wasn’t suprised by the enivornmentalist message. I was expecting it. But the Anti-BIg Business message throught the film with the two villans suprised me. I didn’t mind though.

    • Funkybat

      To be honest, it would have been almost impossible for this to be as bad or worse than the Grinch of Cat in the Hat features. Horton was good, but ultimately not all that memorable. It and this film do a good job of getting the Seuss visuals, though I could do without the injection of the more contemporary humor. I guess I’m a Seuss purist…

  • SC

    I can see why people like Lou Dobbs thought it was indoctrination. Because it kind of is. Not in the way that it has a bad message, just that it asks the question and then BLARES the answer back at you before you have a chance to think.

    Not that this isn’t keeping with the source material, but a true modernisation of the story might have tried to pose the question and let the kids answer it for themselves OR even better, finish the movie showing the greedy money grabbers and the ‘trees’ living together harmoniously somehow.

    Because while ‘save the trees!’ and ‘money and greed are evil’ are theoretically good intentioned messages, the movie doesn’t offer any real answers anyone can use in real life scenarios.

  • Matt Sullivan

    Yes! 70 Million! Now they can’t blame the animators ( had it failed, they surely would have. It’s always the artists fault, not the boneheaded movie execs when a movie fails. Thankfully, we don’t have to deal with that now.

    • Obo

      Great a generic preachy movie makes 70 million. I can’t wait for the next 10 movies that shove their morality down our throats because it’s the producers and the “important message”, not the animators that will get the credit

  • Certainly an enjoyable film. I can understand why they didn’t market this project as a musical though — when I think Seuss, I don’t think song and dance.

    In any case, the animation was great and the sound design was pretty solid as well. The music, apart from the musical numbers, was pretty fantastic as well and shouldn’t be overlooked. I really enjoyed the first half of the film, but my interest sort of waned when it became clear that O’Hare didn’t really have anything to threaten Ted with except a stern, “Hey you can’t do that.”

    If the story proposed some more visual consequences for Ted, other than smog, then I would have been sold on the villain a lot more. It wasn’t a plot hole, per se, just one of several small opportunities I think the writing staff missed. But altogether, any animation group that can produce a hearty feature based on a 72-page children’s book from the early 1970s gets a thumbs-up from me.

    Also, THE LORAX is #7 in Amazon.com’s book sales…

    • KyleB

      I’m actually surprised that you dont think song and dance!
      I dont know, perhaps musicals and seuss seem more like peanut butter and chocolate to me because I was raised with the animated specials that all frequently used songs.

  • CJ

    I think the message was better crafted or, realistic in this film compared to its 70’s counterpart which I love.

    I’m not left or right wing, I’m just for logic and to me that falls in the middle ground.

    The message in the original film that I got as a child was that logging was bad and that no form of it was ever god. Of course you get older and you realize that there are methods like forestry and planting back what you’ve reaped. Basically being conservative and considerate of nature around you. But the original movie glossed over this concept entirely.

    The new movie was better at anthropomorphizing the Onceler in that he was not portrayed as greedy from the start. The song “how bad can I be” greatly emphasizes how someone can start off with good intentions and he was conservative and considerate of nature around him while still benefiting from it. Sadly he became corrupted by those around them or their own mentality that is twisting due to cognitive dissonance.

    At the same time I can see how this film comes off as indoctrinating because I was indoctrinated and convinced by the first film that taking from nature was bad. In all honesty, this is one of those sd&t (sit down and talk) movies parents should do with kids because there’s a lot more to be learned about humans impact the environment.

    All in all, it was a good film, not the best, but it was good. I liked the darker and more adult tone but something WAS missing from it…. I can’t put my finger on it but maybe it was pacing? I felt as though none of the characters had a connection for one another because the story didn’t allow for a proper build up imo. This movie was longer, and the lack of connection should not be excused imo.

  • Taco Wiz

    I finally figured out why, as mediocre as the movie was, I felt like it had potential.

    You ready?

    The Onceler is the first tragic hero in a mainstream childrens’ animated movie.

    Even with his redemption at the end, he was still corrupted during the story. His corruption even brought on the apocalypse (possibly).

    Pixar hasn’t even tackled a film with a tragic hero protagonist yet. This was exciting, new ground, and what did the movie do? It glossed over the tragic element with wackiness.

    Listen to How Bad Can I Be and tell me you don’t think “tragic hero”.

    If only Pixar did this movie.

  • Mike

    Is this just me??

    IDK, imo the greedy, capitalist villian was a short asian man.. No?

    His last name is O’Hare, so I initially thought he might be of Irish ancestry, but there are many other things implied about the characters ethnicity. Including the fact that ohare could be a Japanese surname

    So for ex. Stereotypically short, Shiny Thick hair texture, skin pigment that can pass for East Asian.

    This reminds me of the time people debating weather aang from avatar last air bender, was Asian or not. Except im the only one debating with myself

    In spite of what i consider to be an refreshing anti capitalist message, I though there was other insidious subtext in the film. Namley, the enemy is the Chinese. In the pov of Americans, The chinese are totalitarian, and even more ruthless capitalists then west, and certainly greedy and full of pollution. At least the white capitalist scrooge got to have some redemption at the end, Cuz white people are real people wereas asians arent. Of course this is subject to interpretation.

    Idk, but im of east asian descent. And walking out of the theater, I was paranoid that some 5 year old might make some race joke or something while I was waiting for my friend in the bathroom.

    I’ve heard nothing about this from anyone else and wondering if this crossed anyone elses mind?

    • Short haircut means nothing. They did with the same thing with the fash
      ion designer from “The Incredibles”, only it was a woman.

      • Mike

        I didn’t mention short hair,

        I said he was stereotypically short.

        I then mentioned his hair texture was silky, shiny and thick.

        I think the creators want to establish the fact that O’Hare is Caucasian. But there are strongly implied characteristics that point to the fact that hes Asian. At least thats how I interpreted it.

    • Funkybat

      Just my two cents, but I’d say you’re reading too much into it.

  • Very brief summary as I see everyone else pointed out what’s good and bad. I like Ed Helms and Danny DeVito’s vocal performances as the Once-ler and Lorax, and I think the production design and the animation have improved since Illumination and Mac Guff’s last film. It all falls down to how they adapted the Seuss tale.

    It can’t get any worse than “The Carrey” and “Cat at the Rave” and thankfully “Lorax” doesn’t stupe to horrifyingly demeaning levels as they did. But even avoiding those two, I found my initial reaction towards this to be mixed. Essentially the environmental concious tone of the book is further elaborated down to the evil corporate villain (with the visual opposite of the bank manager in “Despicable Me” I thought) and the preachy, over-the-top musical climax.

    To further drive the point home, the destruction of the Truffula trees and the tampering of sanctuary of the forest animals are very faintly summarized during a pop-rock song sequence. Meanwhile after the first tree has been chopped and the Lorax appears, there is a 2-3 minute memorial service for the tree stump (the creatures hold hands together and all).

    “Lorax” is basically the case where I found a majority of it could have been handled much better. Sequences of Ted’s first exit outside the city walls and after the last Truffula tree falls prove to be much better than the 3-D action sequences and loud musical numbers. I didn’t find it an outright terrible movie, but I certainly wouldn’t want to drive up the surprisingly successful box office numbers two times more.

    Hoping much better product from Mac Guff and Illumination. “Despicable Me 2” has got my attention with the involvement of Al Pacino.

  • Taco Wiz

    I really, really wish they did a more emotional Lorax. In fact, if this song is any indication, it was to be darker at one point.


  • CC

    This film was very half and half for me.

    I really appreciate how much the film stuck to the book. For the most part the film did a good job at expanding this story- except that terrible water rapids scene. I fail to see how that sequence added anything to the story- why the lorax would want to kill the Once-ler- and disappointed me to see the whole scene end with a waterfall. If I had a dollar for every waterfall scene…

    I think that’s what disappointed me the most about this film- just certain stereotypes and film cliches that I just wish they would stay away from. Such as the the ‘fat bear’ jokes- or the slow motion bit in the chase scene- or the fact there was a chase scene. I also hated that the family were ‘hillbillies’. And i just GROANED when the girl shouted ‘Its called photosynthesis!”

    I was also really bothered by some design choices- like the animals. I found them really ugly and did not have any desire to go ‘awe’ at the baby bear. I understand they are sticking to the design of Suess, but it didn’t work for me. And although I thought the Once-ler was one of the best characters in the film- I was bothered that he looked so much like the little kid.

    Its a fun film, no doubt- and I applaud how far they did go with there message (though it may have been a bit too heavy handed). The story was pretty good- and the music was a great way to approach a suess film. I also am really happy they didn’t, like so many other animated films, end in a happy song and dance.

  • “If this movie does indeed speak for the trees, then they definitely need to hire a new translator.”
    Check out my full review at: http://moo-cartoon.blogspot.ca/2012/04/lorax-review.html