We’re finally done with Minions! Now we get to talk about how Illumination takes beloved children book classics and absolutely butchers them on a fundamental level! This is still somehow an improvement!
I’m running out of straws to grasp and we’re not even halfway done, please help me.
The Lorax is one of my favorite children’s stories. It’s short, it’s meaningful, and it’s powerful. And in today’s climate, it’s more prevalent than ever! It’s a timeless story, a perfect example of how whimsical and mature a children’s story can be.
None of that praise applies to the Illumination version.
The core of the original story is still there. In a derelict world without trees, a young boy goes to find the Once-ler to find out what happened. The Once-ler tells the tale of his Thneed business and the magical Lorax who tried and failed to stop him from chopping the trees down. It’s all still there.
It’s just been dumbed down by loads of unnecessary garbage. Let’s give the kid a sassy grandma and a pretty girl-next-door love interest! Let’s add in a money-grubbing villain! You know what? Screw it! Let’s give the Once-ler an evil family! Let’s add a big action scene at the end!
None of these additions work. They’re all just loud, obnoxious distractions from the actual messages and themes of the story Illumination is ‘adapting.’ It’s padding, plain and simple.
Is that automatically bad? Honestly, no. If you’re going to make a movie out of a story as short as the Lorax, you would need to expand on things to pad it out. But this padding doesn’t do anything to add onto the original narrative! All it does is take away from it!
There’s no better example of this than the ending. The conclusion of the original book is incredibly powerful; it ends on a vague but hopeful note, leaving the future ambiguous. But this movie says, “Nah, that would be too subtle and interesting! We gotta have a happy ending!” So they added a scene of the Lorax coming back. All that hope and intrigue is gone in the snap of the fingers.
Did the higher-ups just not understand the original book or did they just not care?
Now, in all fairness: there is one scene in this movie that I like. That being the Lorax’s introduction. When he first pops out, he doesn’t immediately launch into obnoxious ‘comedy.’ He looks at the severed tree stump, looking shocked and bewildered before he just drops his head and sighs. Then, without saying a word, he circles it with stones like he’s making a grave for it. It’s the one scene in the movie where it feels like the writers understand the point of the Lorax.
Oh yeah, they also made this movie into a musical. Not a good one, either. The songs in this movie are painful to listen to! Most of them don’t even fit in the story; they’re just thrown in there because a musical needs to have songs! Ignore the fact that the songs make no sense and the singing is grating and the actual music hurts your ears!
Well, at least it’s not generic pop songs and bland orchestral tracks. I guess that’s a step in the right direction. Even if that step landed right into dog shit.
The music is still somehow better than the animation. Good god, this movie looks ugly! This movie came out in 2012 and it just looks so bad! It’s a nauseating blend of Seuss’ signature style and Illumination’s cost-effective cheap style. The environments look decent, but the characters just look awful!
On a more positive note, I kinda like the voice acting in this movie. When the characters aren’t singing, they’re at least trying. Danny DeVito is at least entertaining as the Lorax, and I don’t think Ed Helms is all that bad as the Once-ler. It’s not much; there are no jaw-dropping performances in this one. But it’s something.
I’m done talking about this movie now. It’s dumb and it’s bad and it fails to understand the actual point of the original book. It isn’t worth your time
Just go watch the animated short from the 70s. That one is way better. Shorter, too!