What is The Lorax? And Why is it Here?

Courtesy of Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment

By Britany Murphy

On – what would have been the 108th birthday of the famed children’s writer – Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax hit theatres on March 2.

The film earned the number one spot at the box office, beating out stiff competition from films such as Act of Valor, Good Deeds, and Project X with an estimated weekend total of $70.7 million- already matching the film’s total budget.

With voice talents from celebrities like Betty White, Danny DeVito, Zac Efron, and Taylor Swift, The Lorax is the second fully animated Dr. Seuss film to be released, and the very first to be released in 3-D.

The film centers on the town of Thneed-Ville- a walled in city that is completely artificial except for the townspeople. For example, fake trees that glow or shrubbery that is inflatable.

In this town lives an idealistic boy named Ted (Zac Efron), who is a boy on a mission. Ted strives to impress his neighbour, Audrey (Taylor Swift), and has to find the one thing that will gain her affection- Trees.

In the artificial town, Audrey’s obsession is to see a real tree. She and Ted have only seen pictures, but she wants to see the real thing.

Unsure of how to succeed, Ted seeks help from his grandmother, Norma (Betty White), who sends him Once-ler (Ed Helms) who knows everything about the fabled Truffula Forest before it was depleted of the trees and other natural resources.

While on this quest, Ted inadvertently ‘meets’ the Lorax (Danny DeVito)- a small, orange creature with a bushy moustache and eyebrows who is a slight grouch but oddly amiable, through the Once-ler’s stories.

The film is aimed at children being based off of a beloved Dr. Seuss book, but the topic of healthy, green-living is a concept that would be lost on many of the children- but it would not be foreign to the parents of these children, who could probably relate to the concept with the continually growing threat of global warming.

An element of the film I did enjoy was the example of shown of not judging people or creatures, in this instance the Lorax, solely on appearances. A small, orange little ‘peanut’ was able to accomplish things despite his size and gruffness, including help in a fight to save the forest. It demonstrates that people should not only keep up with appearances because many people can be brave and overcome obstacles, despite what he or she looks like on the outside.

But what I did not like about the film was the in-your-face concept of participating in the green movement. I understand the importance of green-living and the danger of global warming right now, and for the future. But at the end of the day, people do not like being told what to do which is the biggest downfall of The Lorax.

Having not been the only film in the last 10 years with a pro-green message, The Lorax should have gone the route of the Disney-Pixar film Wall-E. The message was clear and resonant, but was not shoved down people’s throats.

Even New York Times film critic, David Edelstein, argued that the writing formulas used for The Lorax distorted the spirit of the book. The book was one that would be appealing to readers of all ages, despite being a children’s book, much like Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! It has a message that speaks to many people- no matter the age which was what made the book version of The Lorax so profound and enjoyable.

Therefore, the subtleties that worked in the book and made it brilliant did not translate to the film and left a void in something that was meant to be a cute, feel good story with a relevant message.

So, at the end of the day The Lorax is still worth a watch as a rental, not at the price paid in movie theatres. It was a cute movie for kids, and will undoubtedly be enjoyed by them and other adults. Not to mention DeVito’s portrayal of the little orange crank was funny and brought a lot to the movie.

Leave A Comment