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EIFF: The Lorax

I want to exorcise the sense that I’ve been violated. I’ve just seen The Lorax, you see, and although I’d like to present a cogent argument as to why it is a fetid turd of a film, I fear I may be too damn irritated by the entire debacle to do it rational justice. Hard-upon will follow a bewildering morass of capital letters and ill-considered analogies, but somewhere amidst them all you will grasp my point.

There has been a glut of Dr Seuss cinematic adaptations over the past few years, from Horton Hears A Who, to the execrable The Cat In The Hat, via the best-not-spoken of remake of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Into a gaping maw over-stuffed with putrid Seussian bastardisations weasels The Lorax, a CGI, neon-toned tale of The Onceler, whose greed for thneeds leads to him ridding the world of trees. And all for PROFIT. WHICH IS A BAD THING, PEOPLE. Because it is more important to be good and kind and hug trees and furry animals than to have money. In case this truth is not abundantly self-evident, wide-eyed preaching pixies voiced by Zac Efron and Taylor Swift spend 86 loooooong minutes squeakily insisting upon that point. With all the persistence and charm of a virulent cancer. There’s no wit, no nuance. Just the vapid chipmunk voice of proselytising saucer-eyed drones.

WHAT? were they thinking. WHY? would they do this. HOW? can they justify a treatise that is vehemently anti-capitilist, and yet so bereft of artistic integrity the only possible reason for it’s existence is that the filmmakers were trying to make some filthy lucre. Filthy being the operative word. There is a dirty, dirty taint to this piece of celluloid, which is especially upsetting given the source material is so earnest and pure. The book that provided the inspiration for this spirit-crushing multi-coloured pile of excrement is a 64-page-long, deeply cynical, deeply sad, deeply funny howl of desperation from Dr Seuss, in which the message of taking care of our planet is Clearly Stated, but (crucially) NEVER PREACHED. That that book could lead to this movie suggests we’re in a godless universe.

Visually it is tacky and uber-bright, with the cumulative effect of giving one the kind of headache you get from eating too many Skittles, but without the accompanying joyous sugar rush. I’m not sure when anyone thought Danny Devito was a suitable addition to the world of cinema, but his work here as the voice of the Lorax does not disabuse me of the notion he should be let out to some form of fading-star pasture to low plaintively about how he once chanced his way into a Tim Burton movie back when Tim Burton was still worth a damn. His turn is in keeping with his cast-mates, though, inasmuch as all the voice work is tired, unconvincing, and cloying.

And THEN, you sorry people, there are the SONGS. Squeaky voiced auto-tuned SONGS. About how greed is bad. And fresh air is good. And how ensuring you’ve had an STD check if you’ve been sleeping with multiple partners, even if you use prophylactics, is imperative. Oh wait no. That last one there is actually practical. Didn’t make it into the film.

In a sense I’m not surprised, because there is no such thing as a good Dr Seuss movie adaptation (shush, those of you invoking the 1966 How The Grinch Stole Christmas, you’re ruining my argument), but that barely quells my ire. I will take  solace in the knowledge that The 5000 Fingers of Dr T (1953) – the film Dr Seuss penned himself – still exists, inviolate, the spirit of Seuss alive and frabjous within it. For goodness sake, watch that, show your children that, cry softly and quietly with the joy that at least Once, at least Once, Seussian cinematic chicanery was choicely conceived. And then imagine punching the creative team behind the Lorax in their collective testicles. That’s how I’ve salved my pain.

The Lorax is on general release in UK cinemas now. Although, REALLY, people. 

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