Sunday, 4 March 2012

Critical Week: Save the trees

One more film caught in California this past week...

The Lorax
dir Chris Renaud; with Zac Efron, Danny DeVito 12/US **

Dr Seuss' Eco-fable is transformed into a raucous adventure comedy in this colourful animated feature. And it's a little embarrassing really. Not only has the story been padded out with lame jokes and unnecessary side plots, but the film's pacing is all over the place, leaving both kids and their parents bored. To impress a girl, Ted (Efron) ventures outside the artificial environment of his town to find an extinct living tree, and in the process learns a lesson about caring for the environment. But the film is a chaotic mix of random story threads and thin characters we can't identify with at all. Which makes it feel meandering and oddly dull despite the hyperactive energy. At least the animation is sharp and wacky, with some nice touches in between the irrelevant slapstick. And the message comes through clearly. But seeing Seuss' original drawings in the closing credits only magnifies how out of balance the film is. Read the book instead.

I'm back in London on Tuesday, and have a few screenings lined up, including Matt Damon in We Bought a Zoo and Mark Wahlberg in Contraband, plus a couple I know nothing about: Forgiveness of Blood and Delicacy. And there will no doubt be a few others that come up along the way...

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