MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Universal Pictures
Directed by Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda. Animated Feature.
Jesus had the right idea to use parables to teach. Those little stories were so jam-packed with surprises and moral teachings we still enjoy hearing them today. On the other hand, most of us can remember sermons in which the preacher decided to pull the parable apart piece by piece until the life of the story was exhausted.
Dr. Seuss was a writer who could tell a story about a cat in the hat who would come to your house to play and, while doing everything fun that a kid could imagine to do, reveal the total anarchy that would prevail in a world without rules. The message was in the story; it didn’t need to be spelled out.
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, however, is a filmed version of one of the good doctor’s preachiest books, originally published following the first Earth Day in 1971. There’s nothing wrong with saying a good word for forest preservation as well as speaking out against a consumer culture, but the way in which this message is shared in The Lorax is heavy-handed, complicated and obvious at the same time.
Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) is an energetic and good-natured boy living in the near future in a storybook world devoid of living things. To impress Audrey (Taylor Swift), he goes on a quest outside the city to find a living tree. On his journey he encounters a strange man living as a hermit, named The Once-ler (Ed Helms), who tells him the story about how the world lost its forest when he ignored the warnings of The Lorax (Danny DeVito) and overdeveloped the Truffalo trees to make the incredible invention of thneeds (a somewhat advanced version of the Snugglie). There’s also a bad guy (created for the film) named Mr. O’Hare (Rob Riggle) who takes advantage of a collapsing environment to make a profit selling air.
When I think of The Lorax and his forest friends, it puts a smile on my face every time. The plot of this film, however, gives me a headache. There are bright colors and some fun 3D chases, one decent song (and many mediocre ones) and good intentions. It’s a mixed bag, but you could do worse.
Your kids will likely have an okay time visiting The Lorax. Maybe they’ll appreciate the beauty of the trees on the way to the mall. Well, it’s a start!
Three halos: A colorful, busy and occasionally entertaining paean to conservation.
One pitchfork: Just enough mildly rude stuff to move it beyond the G rating.
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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