Now Playing: A Cartoon That Actually Validates One of Fox News’ Wild Claims

On my Facebook profile page, in the section that asks for political preferences, mine says, “Who cares? What movie is opening this weekend?” When it comes time to vote, that’s when I pay attention to politics… but that’s it. Working full-time in entertainment, I don’t have time to follow every slanted news story out there. However, the two things occasionally cross paths and I have to pay attention. Such is the case with ‘The Lorax’. Lou Dobbs has called the film anti-industrial Leftist propaganda. I don’t care about the Leftist aspect of his comment, but the anti-industry bit is 100% spot-on.

Here’s the gist of the original story as found in Dr. Seuss’ book: Trees are extinct. A guy once cut them all down to produce a product. All the animals had to move away. That area is now a wasteland.

The movie includes all of this, as well as an even heavier-handed message about government policies, cutthroat businessmen and economy-killing corporations. But this repeated slug in the gut isn’t the only thing making ‘The Lorax’ unwatchable.

The first half of the movie is made of the awesome content that kids and grown-ups who act like kids (like me) love to watch. As we get the flashback story of the entrepreneur discovering the use of trees, we meet dozens of hilarious animal characters. I dare you to not love the bears – especially the big dumb one. But once the forest is chopped down (which happens about halfway through the movie), the animals disappear and the focus of the film shifts from family fun to serious adult politics. Sadly, the fun stuff never returns. From this point on, every child in the screening audience I attended, including my own, began stirring in their seats. Combine un-kid-friendly content with slow pacing and 3D glasses, and every child in the theater will get bored. Yet that’s also not the only thing killing ‘The Lorax’.

You wouldn’t know it from the trailers, but ‘The Lorax’ is a musical. Whoever decided to go this route deserves banishment from Hollywood for thinking that a bunch of unmemorable songs can compete with the rhythmic dialog of Dr. Seuss. Not a single song is worthy of being in a movie and, just like the music from ‘Happy Feet Two’, not a single one of them will make the cut for Best Original Song at the Oscars. The most baffling part of the music is that the film features the voice acting talents of singers Taylor Swift and Zac Efron, yet neither of them sing in the entire movie. All of the songs are given to Ed Helms, who really needs to stop singing. He’s becoming the male version of Zooey Deschanel. We get it, you sing a lot. Now shut up.

Despite being titled ‘The Lorax’, the Lorax character (voiced by Danny DeVito) is hardly in the movie and has nothing to do with the story. He proclaims himself as “the voice of the trees,” and “the guardian of the forest” – yet he doesn’t do a damn thing to protect it. He shows up, watches it go down, grabs his butt and flies away, carrying no significance whatsoever. Follow the lead of the Lorax and don’t stick around for this heavy-handed garbage disguised as a funny family entertainment. The only thing ‘The Lorax’ has going for it is a fun and playful use of 3D, a few great characters (that vanish) and awesome animation. Technically speaking, it’s a remarkable film. Entertainment-wise, it could hardly be any worse.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

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