CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’ Boasts Strong Voice Cast But Weak Storytelling
CHICAGO – “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” certainly isn’t an awful film by any stretch of the imagination. It features some solid voice work, a few lessons worth learning by the iGeneration, and some nifty visuals. It’s also pretty damn boring. Even the little ones at the family screening I attended seemed to lose interest in how this timeless story has been stretched to the demands of a modern family film. It just never quite connects in the way fans of this legendary character hope it would.
“The Lorax” tells two stories, a majority of the film taking place in flashback. In the present, we are introduced to the hustling, bustling world of Thneedville through an opening song that is a tragic sign of things to come. Perhaps the worst element of “The Lorax” is the music by John Powell, a talented composer who can’t find the rhythm for this piece. At all. Remember the songs in “The Muppets” that got your toes tapping? What’s the opposite of toe-tapping? That’s the grating music in “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax,” not a single song of which I could hum for you now since my brain has appropriately repressed them.
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” in our reviews section.|
Back to the story. Thneedville is a futuristic metropolis not unlike the sheltered environment of “The Truman Show.” Everyone who lives there breathes air pumped out by O’Hare Air and buys fake plastic trees that they can change for the season but never watch grow. It’s a plastic world in a bubble and we soon learn that all that remains outside of this seemingly happy processed city is a wasteland of stumps where trees used to be and a sky blocked out by the smog and pollution of industry run amok. Lou Dobbs is already pissed off.
Thneedville may be plastic but it still has that timeless ingredient of young love. In this case, sweet Ted (Zac Efron) has a crush on neighbor Audrey (Taylor Swift), a lovely girl who paints long-gone trees on her house and tells Ted about how she’d probably marry a man who could get her a real live one. This spurs Ted to action and when Grammy Norma (Betty White) tells him that there’s someone outside of town who may know how to get a tree, he ventures beyond the city walls where he finds The Once-ler (Ed Helms), a haggard soul who tells Ted the story of The Lorax (Danny DeVito).
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
Photo credit: Universal Pictures