It is I!
Dr Seuss' stories for children have been finding their way to the big screen, be it live action or animated variants. The Lorax becomes the first to be presented in IMAX 3D, although frankly speaking having watched this in the 2D version, there aren't that many clues why it would have warranted a 3D treatment given a rather flat animated design that won't contribute much to the 3D format, although having presented in IMAX would mean a crisp presentation, with the musical elements likely to have pushed the song and dance sequence into aural and visual perfection given the vibrant colours involved.
Given that it's a kid's film, director Chris Renaud clearly has brought his Despicable Me know how into The Lorax, knowing just what buttons to push to keep the young ones engaged and entertained. With his earlier animated effort, even the most bored adult in the audience would find the little yellow minions in the film fairly amusing with their antics, and here with co-direction by Kyle Balda, that responsibility fell onto the many strange animals in the land of Thneed-Ville before it became polluted and uninhabitable. There are many of cute, furry bears running around the landscape filled with the Truffula trees, which serve up delicacies for the animals, and who can forget the singing/humming fishes out of water who are primarily key to why the musical numbers were plenty of fun. Or the birds of the land as well, way before the introduction of the very grumpy Lorax, protector of the trees when Once-ler (Ed Helms) fell one of them to extract raw material for his production of Thneed, a multi-purpose fabric.
It's a story within a story, which began with Ted (Zac Efron) having the hots for Audrey (Taylor Swift), who has a penchant for wanting to see a real tree. Living in Thneed-Ville where everything is artificial, Ted discovers the simplest way to score with his lady love is to make her sole dream come true, but requires to do the forbidden and step outside their gated community, and seek out the fabled Once-ler, as advised by his grandma (Betty White). So begins the actual story of The Lorax with the background of how the Once-ler ended up where he is, from a promising young man seeking his fortunes to learning the universal lesson of how to take care of our only planet, told through multiple visits that Ted makes each time to learn a lot more.
The story's pretty much very point blank in its obvious message about the environment, and conservation, where the ill effects of industrialization, blatant pollution and the destruction of nature get dealt with in the narrative – when natural habitats are destroyed, those oh-so-cute all-singing-and-dancing animals will soon have to depart or face extinction. However, having this shoved down your throat every now and then does become somewhat of a put off. While the young ones will likely be entertained, accompanying adults will likely stay two steps ahead of the story since it doesn't toss up any surprises, and you can be accurately guessing how everything turned out like it is for Thneed-Ville given the very lively introduction to the town.
The villain is of course the conglomerate head Mr O'Hare (Rob Riggle) whose objective is sky rocketing profits from a self fulfilling cycle of production and waste, churning out products such as filters and bottled clean air to serve as growing necessities for the town's inhabitants. Despite getting title billing, the Lorax (voiced by Danny DeVito) isn't that much well liked or have taken centre-stage, besides having to crack some one-liners every now and then, but character wise, almost everything stuck to their assigned caricature. This makes the narrative a little bit bland and boring, unable to keep pace with its punchier song and dance moments when it played out more like a musical.
Fans of Despicable Me will find some grounds for familiarity given how director Renaud stuck to his formula of packing the visuals in with bright, vibrant colours, and staffed full of cutesy animals and creatures that Once-ler finds himself in the company of. It's a story about redemption after betrayal of the highest order, breaking that circle of trust in the name of production and capitalism, and sort of reflects a current state in modern society with morals thrown out the window in exchange for riches. But for the young ones who are here to watch this show, parents beware, should there be a slew of merchandise and toys lined up to capture their attention post-screening.