Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: The Lorax

We all knew the story since she’d told it to us a hundred times before, but my brothers and I loved to sit down with my aunt and hear her tell it again. There were no pictures, no one else’s ideas to interrupt my own, and since “shortish, and brownish, and oldish, and mossy,” isn’t a terribly detailed description, the character in my head was Horus-like, a bird’s head on a man’s body, wearing a blue button up shirt. I must have thought there was something birdish about the name “Lorax,” and I think the shirt must have come from the Once-ler’s angry line, “Now listen here, Dad!” Dad = dress shirt to my young mind.

My aunt has always given awesome gifts, and one of them was the book itself. Now we’d be able to read the story we loved on our own, not just when she came to visit. Of course, she included a tape of her reading it so that we could play it while we looked at the pictures, and that was one of the best parts about it.

Although the vibrant illustrations of the Doctor usurped my own imaginings (I definitely understood what he meant by “brownish” after looking at the pictures), one thing that took me by surprise was the trees. “The trees, the trees, the truffula trees! All my life I’d been searching for trees such as these!” As a lover of color, I was blown away by the beautiful images that Dr Seuss created for his world. The words he uses to describe them don’t begin to cover the plethora of shades he used in their visual representations.

For years, my brothers and I enjoyed the book, often listening to my aunt’s voice while we browsed through the pages. I love reading it to my children. And on long car rides, my brothers and I have been known to recite the whole thing from start to finish, with a little help from one another, of course.

When the movie came out, I had mixed feelings. Those who know me well (or those who read my blog) (or both) know that I’m not usually a fan of movies that are based on books. The reason for this is because most movie studios define the word “based” the same way most people define the word “scented.” When a movie is based on a book, it’s usually in a “sorta like the book but not really” kind of way.

I was mostly afraid that there would be tons of things in the movie that weren’t in the book. If you’ve ever plunked yourself down on the floor to read a children’s book, you’ll know that most of them take about 90 seconds to read from start to finish, if you don’t linger to look at the pictures. A Dr Seuss book will keep you in your reading spot for quite a while, usually longer than a two year old’s attention span will allow. But no matter how you try, a story that takes seven minutes to read will never stretch to entertain audiences for an hour and a half.

When my brother turned the movie on Christmas Day, I let out a little whine of reluctance. “It’s good,” he assured me, “It has a secondary plot, but it’s not completely different. You’ll like it.”

And I did.

The trees were more orange than they were supposed to be (I never saw a purple Thneed in the movie), but the little love story was cute, and I actually appreciated seeing that the Once-ler was a real person, instead of a creepy thing wearing some sort of gruvvulous full body glove. I was concerned that I would be distracted by Danny DeVito’s distinct voice, but I wasn’t (it was actually perfect for what Dr Seuss must have meant by “sharpish and bossy”).

The only thing that really bothered me was the pronunciation of the letter “u.” All my life I’d been hearing “truffula” with both “u”s pronounced the same way, the same way you’d pronounce them in the word “full.” But in the movie, the first “u” sounds just they way it does when you say the word “truffle,” but the second “u” is pronounced like the one in “unicorn.” I’m sure that there are people other than those at Universal Pictures that say it that way, but since my aunt never did, it was hard for me to ignore. I would sit there, enjoying the movie, and jump every time someone said, “truffUla.” That was pretty much the only time I felt like shouting, “WRONG!” at the screen. Which is far less than most of the movies “based” on books that I am convinced to/forced to/willingly watch.

I’d recommend seeing The Lorax. It’s fun and cute. I wouldn’t mind watching it again.

And it’s hard to say no to such an epic mustache.

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