For fun . . . and feathers at our fingertips.
Thneed-Ville is a little self-contained world all its own, walled off — literally — from the truth of the bleak, ravaged environment on the outside. The trees in Thneed-Ville run on batteries — lots of batteries.
The newest rage are those that mimic the seasons in colored lights. The grass is not real — just some hard, unyielding material painted green. No one has to mow. So everything is neat and orderly, just like the lives of its people.
The Mayor, Aloysius O’Hare (Rob Riggle), con-man extraordinaire, convinces the people that the old air is bad for them and sells “fresh” air bottled in plastic. His snide motto: bottle anything in plastic and it’s got to be better, therefore, people will buy it, even though it contaminates the actual air.
Thneed-Ville is a city of synthetics and plastic, (much like the bodies of our current crop of thespians; but hey, if you can afford it, go for it). And even though some of Thneed-Ville’s children have a tendency to glow, why, it’ll surely go away. They hope.
Into this synthetic world we are introduced to Ted Wiggins (voice of Zac Efron), a tweenager with puppy-eyes for a redheaded knock-out named Audrey (Taylor Swift), who longs to see a real tree and swears she’ll marry the first man who brings her one. A heavy hint from Ted’s “cool” white-haired Grammy Norma (Betty White, of course), sends him scaling the walls in search of the Once-ler (Ed Helms), who knows the secret of real trees and their utter demise. After several physically trying tete-a-tetes with the old hermit, seen only behind the slats of his boarded-up window, (reminiscent of Tim Allen’s neighbor on the old sitcom “Home Improvement) Ted learns the story of all that led up to the devastation surrounding him here on the outside.
The story takes us back to the Once-ler as an ambitious young man leaving a loveless home and a “backwoods”, self-promoting mother (Nasin Pedrad) and two brothers, to make his way in a better world. He wants to manufacture, promote, and sell his invention, which he calls “Thneed”. Everybody’s gonna want to have one. In his little donkey-drawn home on wheels he travels until he comes to a BRIGHT beautiful valley brim-full of truffala trees. The brightly-colored, hairy headed truffala tree is just the thing to use as material for the Once-ler’s soon-to-be newest rage, Thneed.
The woodland animals (ultra cutesy cuddly, of course), look on, appalled, as he chops down a beloved truffala tree and warn him that this will bring The dreaded Lorax (Danny Devito). Their prophecy arrives in a thunderclap and bolt of lightning, leading to some gruffly hilarious moments as The Lorax and his woodland cohorts attempt to indoctrinate the Once-ler into the realities of responsible conservation.
The Lorax (who looks like a cross between Yosemite Sam and Spongebob’s maiden aunt), evokes a promise from The Once-ler to harvest only the hair of the trees instead of chopping them down. But when The Once-ler’s product goes viral, he brings in his greedy, self-centered family, who convince him that the only way to keep up with demand is to fell the trees. As The Once-ler’s promise, along with his integrity, fall with the last tree, The Lorax sends the woodland creatures away, then goes away himself. As he ascends into the heavens upon a sunbeam, The Lorax leaves behind a cryptic, one-word message carved in stone -“Unless” . . . . . . .
It’s spring break here in Alabama so I took my granddaughter Montana, age ten, who was dying to see The Lorax. She’s just the right age, too. Still a gleeful child, but not as hyper as, say, below ten. She and I (me especially) were blown away by the technical advances of this animated 3-D. I had never been able to watch 3-D movies because they gave me a headache about 15 minutes into the film — besides feeling utterly stupid wearing those dorky pasteboard and crinkly plastic glasses.
First of all, I was all agog watching the credits levitating off the screen . . . or maybe the correct terminology would be “extruding”? Anyway, you catch my drift. And, yo, check this out. On-screen they busted open a bag of feathers which came wafting out to our very fingertips. Montana squealed and tried to catch some. I didn’t — I swear on my dearly departed ancestors. I very carefully did not twitch a single adult muscle. After all, there were older children in the upper rows. And, noooo, I did not squeal, either.
The plot thickened from a rainbow-colored goo (like unto Pinocchio’s own “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” ) into an all-day sucker. I know I’m getting carried away with the imagery here, but, hey . . . my inner child is rampant. Gimme a break. Also, from insights further into the movie, I think the name “Thneed” might be a twisty-cutesy derivative of “The Need”. I’m sure I’m not the first person to think of that, but . . . on the other hand . . . I might be.
Yes, lots of political and social murmurings here, (actually, like the grass in Thneed-Ville, they were painted on with a heavy-handed brush) with lots of political and social mutterings outside the hallowed halls of entertainment. And though I am not unaware, nor unaffected, by these issues, in the context of grandmother/granddaughter and our afternoon out, we watched it for the fun of it. And the memory of sparkles in my little girl’s eyes and feathers at our fingertips.