According to Variety, Universal and Illumination Entertainment recently decided to use Dr. Seuss’ 1971 tale, The Lorax, as source material for an upcoming project. Here’s how I think the board room conversation went:
“Given the sorry state of economic affairs, why not capitalize on ol’ Doc Seuss again? Pick another book, make it an animated movie, and let’s toss in some 3D effects while we’re at it, ‘cuz the kids seem to be really eating that up these days, and we can charge an additional $6.50 for tickets and those silly glasses! Sounds like a recipe for success to me, boys, make it happen!”
Somehow, the suits-that-be at Universal looked at the sweeping success of previous Seuss-based projects, and decided that the public had gone too long without a follow-up. That’s not to say that the production quality has been poor; their digital animation is rapidly gaining on Pixar. However, I’m not sure the public is ready for another Dr. Suess/comedian-du-jour vehicle (first it was Jim Carrey, then Mike Meyers, the Carrey again, who’s next?). Perhaps I’m just not the target demographic.
For those of you that don’t recall the story, allow me to jog your memory:
The Lorax is a story of (try and stay with me here) the Lorax, who speaks for the trees. The trees and the land they live off of are being ravaged by the Once-ler for the production of a “Thneed,” a garment the Once-ler insists everyone needs. The Once-ler continues to decimate the land, polluting the waters and killing the Truffula Trees, all the while ignoring the Lorax. Eventually, the Lorax becomes fed up with the destruction, hoists himself by the seat of his own pants, and exits through the smog. The Once-ler is left with his own decrepit factories and the Lorax’s last message: UNLESS. There is a ray of hope at the end of the story, though: one remaining Truffula seed.
Universal and Illumination have set the date for release at March 2, 2012, a seemingly arbitrary date until you realize it’s Dr. Seuss’ (Theodor Geisel) birthday. Chris Renaud, Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio are splitting the directorial duties, with Paul and Daurio whipping up the script. The money will come from the head of Illumination, Chris Meledandri, as well as Suess’ widow, Audrey Geisel. If they all play their cards right, they could give Pixar’s Wall-E and its thinly-veiled social commentary a run for its environmental money.
The Lorax is a sad story, to say the least, and given the current state of the environmental debate, entirely relevant. So Universal and Illumination Entertainment can’t be ENTIRELY blamed for trying to captialize on the Save-The-Planet movement of the moment. But maybe they should’ve done their homework before they decided to push this project forward based purely on the hopes that time-worn hippies will be willing to spend $13.50 on a movie ticket just to teach their kids – Stardust and Moonbeam – the effects that capitalism and the pillaging of land are having on Mother Earth.
Had they done their homework, the filmmakers would’ve realized that The Lorax has previously courted controversy: first, there was uproar over a line in the book (that has since been removed from further publications) regarding the sad state of affairs over at Lake Eerie. Second, in the late 80s, the story was seen as a jibe at the California logging industry. In response, the logging industry released a pro-logging rebuttal called The Truax. (Maybe a good idea for a sequel…I’m talking to you, Universal.) Also, this isn’t the first time The Lorax has been animated: in 1972, it was done the old fashioned way for a musical television special on CBS. And look at the (non) impact THAT had…
I’m sure that the story will be updated and modernized, and of course new animation techniques will make it appealing to multiple age ranges. So this begs the question:
Will you see it in 3D?
Will you pay $13.50?
Will you drag your kids along?
Will there be a catchy song?
Will this movie be a flop?
Or will it be the next big drop?
Will kids see the metaphor?
Or will the movie be a bore?
This film could really be a mess,