Whyboy Spotlights: The Lorax

Hello all. I am Whyboy and I speak for the movie.

A difficult film The Lorax was oh yes but that wasn’t because that I thought it was worse then the rest. Okay I’m stopping rhyming, if you can even call that last line a rhyme. Anyway, just a personal story but I had many problems seeing this movie mostly due to a lot of work piling up at college that I had to get done this weekend. So, I couldn’t see The Lorax last weekend which threw my schedule for a loop. Thus I ended up going to The Lorax by myself after school and overall it was a very enjoyable experience. When by myself watching the movie I was able to really see the reactions that the audience was having to The Lorax. They enjoyed it.

That just freaks me out.

First a recap of all the crap that The Lorax movie had to push through before it even went on screen. The one main thing is that Danny Devito was playing the Lorax and everyone thought he would play the role like he did in Hercules as Phil. You know how he played basically himself nut a centaur. Then there was Zac Efron as the boy, Ed Helms as the Once-Ler and Taylor Swift as… the love interest. Everyone on the internet was screeching their throats off ranting that none of these actors would be good as these characters especially Danny.

Here’s the story (like you really need me to restate it), in the town of Thneedville no tree ever grows in fact anything plant related is made of plastic and fresh air needs to be bought from the company running the city Hare Air. In the middle of all this is Zac Efron, playing… a totally interchangeable character, is trying to put the moves on Audrey played by Taylor Swift. Also, just to add if Zac’s character is interchangeable then Taylor Swift’s character is completely forgettable and stock. Anyway, Audrey dreams of seeing a Truffula tree and like the pubescent mind dreams if you bring the girl what she wants you get a kiss. Zac, with the help of his grandmother played by Betty White, gets out of the city to see the Once-Ler played by Ed Helms. A man Granny White says that knows what happened to all the tress and after that you can pretty much sing the rest of the movie despite a few “Despicable Me”-bits and the Zac Efron plotline… NAH you can totally sing those parts too especially the Zac Efron plot line.

The plot around Zac is entirely standard not deviating at all from “Boy see wise person. Boy learn lesson. Boy beats corporate suit. Boy save day.” Even the corporate suit villain isn’t even a fun villain. Mr. O’hare played by Rob Riggle is a very translucent villain who earns money by selling the people of Thneedville fresh air for money that creates the plot-hole where does O’Hare get the clean air if the air around Thneedville is all polluted. But honestly no one is there to watch Zac Efron’s side o the story and you aren’t here to read about that either. How does Danny Devito play the Lorax and Ed Helms play the Onceler?

Let me first say that none of the Dr. Seuss movie adaptations have ever got the main character right. In The Cat in the Hat, Mike Myers played an insufferable idiot who makes unfunny pop cultural jokes and sexual innuendos instead of a slightly sophisticated goofball. In How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Jim Carrey played an over emotional mugging prankster nothing like Dr. Seuss’s Grinch who was cold and heartless and wouldn’t sound happy even if he was laughing with glee. Now onto The Lorax, the two iconic characters namely the Lorax and the Onceler. Like everyone called out Danny Devito played Danny Devito not the peacekeeper Lorax and Ed Helms takes the Onceler character in an entirely new direction making him more of a naïve kid rather than a greedy faceless business man. There are gonna be A LOT of critics who say that changing the characters this much ruins any sort of connection with the original story and muddies up the actually darker more serious tone of the story and they are right.

The Lorax is an awful adaptation of the Dr. Seuss book. That’s just simple fact. The tone of the movie is light hearted and cutesy which ruins the impact of the environmental message, Danny and Ed the way they are playing their respective characters mostly miss the original point of the original characters, and this movie also falls into the “ADD 3D TO MAKE IT LOOK KEWL” trap. All and all The Lorax is a terrible adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s book but really what did we all expect? Did we expect the movie to be exactly like the book or even the short? I stopped expecting such things when I saw The Cat in the Hat in a coconut bikini.

I based my opinion on The Lorax as just a stand-alone movie because as I said as an adaptation it sucks big time but as a stand-alone movie I would say it’s competent but very weak in every story telling aspect. First back to the characters, Lorax is a gruff and annoying peacekeeper not having much censor for what he spouts out his mouth. Ed Helms’s Onceler is now a naïve kid trying to survive in the world of business. His character is actually a lot of fun much like Carrey’s Grinch and throughout his company expanding (done through a mildly irritating song sequence and brought on by the most contrived of reasoning) the Onceler does start to act like The Onceler from the book but this is a different Onceler. This Onceler conveys how business can transform someone into doing awful things. Also, a quick note on the musical numbers, the music is competent but generic you won’t remember a single song from this movie after the credits role except maybe the Onceler’s song “How Bad Can I Be?”

Now time to mention the side characters because quite frankly they take up so much screen time they could be considered main characters. As most of you undoubtedly know The Lorax was created by Illumination Entertainment the same people who did Despicable Me a movie which I loved for two reasons, the anti-hero Gru and villain were both a lot of fun and the minions. The minions from Despicable Me are becoming more and more iconic mascots of their company and they have seeped there way into The Lorax or to put it more simply. The Swomee Swans, Bar-ba-loots, and the Humming-Fish are just the Despicable Me minions in disguise. Most of the time when the crowd laughed is was during when these characters did a minion-esque joke which isn’t undeserved. I loved the side characters conveying so much emotion without speaking single world (well except for making noises but no words) is so much more powerful then just having them plainly laugh, cry or whatever.
Now overall how did I like the Lorax? The whole Zac Efron side of the story is very bland and stock not at all interesting. The Lorax isn’t the Lorax. Neither is the Onceler. There is pointless 3D. The environmental message of the story is less potent now that this movie gave the Onceler a happy ending where we see his face. Take what you want from that. But the humor is cute, the Onceler and Lorax while not the same as the book do have a good chemistry that makes me start to see the original book’s heart somewhere in all this. Much like how I could see the heart of the story in The Grinch. Overall The Lorax is a very competent standard animated film, with beautiful animation, some fun characters (even the very stock granny character that Betty White plays is a little fun) and a simple happy ending. It’s just a simple animated movie.

NEXT TIME: Whyboy Spotlights… Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo
Illustrations by Jordan Tucker – Deviant Art

Written by: Taylor “Whyboy” Wyatt

If you have any requests for a movie or show to spotlight please contact me at cartooncorner.whyboy@gmail.com

About the author

Chozo Ninpo

Chozo Ninpo is a founding member of Channel Zero and one of the hosts of The Zero Level. He is the Project Manager for the Orlando Nerd Fest and an avid gamer, as well as a nerdcore rapper, a cosplayer, and the real life inspiration behind the FX cartoon "Chozen".