I'm not sure what to think of Illumination. They did pretty well with Despicable Me, but then they churned out Hop, which was not particularly great. But I was quite excited to see they were making a movie based on a Dr. Seuss story, seeing as the recent Horton Hears A Who adaptation is one of the only non-Disney/Pixar animated features I love. Did they deliver?
Zac Efron stars as Ted, a boy living in the city of Thneedville, which has no natural plant life. Of course this cuts down on the air supply, but the villainous O'Hare is on hand to sell air to the residents for a hefty price. But Ted's freakishly tall crush Audrey (Taylor Swift) has a dream of seeing a real life tree, so without a second thought Ted rushes out of town to find the Once-ler, a man who has a story about what happened to the trees, a story involving a little orange man known as The Lorax (Danny DeVito).
If you can't get the environmental message this movie is putting across then you probably have no thought processes and are legally dead. Still, they present it in a nice enough manner, the preaching guardian of the forest is particularly delightful, because he's voiced by Danny DeVito, and that man can do no wrong. The whole O'Hare air storyline is quite inventive too, especially as none of that was in the book to begin with.
But this movie cannot be carried on story alone, and it's when observing the rest that the cracks start to appear. See, the story isn't that complex, and there's a lot of stuff thrown in just for the novelty and cheap laughs. Most of the forest creatures in the backstory are just annoying, especially the fish who spend their time screeching theme songs and bad impressions. There are a whole bunch of songs thrown in for good measure too, but none of them are very good. In fact, there was something off about the sound in general. I wouldn't normally make a point of this, but it was prevalent throughout the whole movie. Backing vocals in songs were way too quiet, as were background sound effects during action sequences. It just felt very wrong when there was a lot of stuff going on in a scene.
I do hold The Lorax in higher esteem than Hop, but I can't say it's a great movie. It's good, sure, but it seems to be riddled with annoying filler and other flaws. After Illumination kicked out a really good movie with Despicable Me, I figured they'd be able to iron out the creases with this one. It just seems like they gave up before they could really make it something great.
My rating: 3/5