Movie Review: The Lorax

I have been so excited to see the release of our favorite Dr. Seuss book classic The Lorax on big screen. I was most excited to see the Trufulla trees because I’ve loved them for so long…to see them move, get a sense of their texture, colors and beauty was a big treat. We returned home from the theater a few hours ago and I’ve been buzzing to write down my thoughts. It would be easy to hate a remake of a book that has meant so much to me personally and my children, but this movie is a good thing. It’s coming at a great time in the world where greenwashing is high, our love of excess is also high, and the wise reminders from The Once-Ler need to be heard. A few of my kids commented they found the movie a bit depressing and I have to agree at the beginning. You are introduced to a world where everything is plastic. Then you see the outskirts of this town and everything is dark, bleak, and barren. I also thought my twins might get scared of the Once-Ler when he’s in the tower looking out through the blinds, but this wasn’t a problem. The movie weaves through the retelling of the book The Lorax told by The Once-Ler. You don’t get his side of the story in the book, so it’s amazing through the magic of the movie to understand how greed and power are an easy lure. But before all the Truffula Trees disappear you get to see them on the big screen and they are beautiful. The forest of Truffula trees is amazing…it’s how you’d imagine it from the book. My kids also really like how funny the Humming-Fish are in the movie…kind of understated humour and they got it and liked it!

I’m not going to go through the entire movie with this review. I want people to watch it and don’t want to spoil it. I do want to talk about my two favorite scenes in the movie and they are so understated (and brilliant) but I don’t think you’ll mind if I share them.

When the Once-ler cuts down the first Truffula tree to make a sneed, the Lorax pops out of the tree stump. We know this part from the book. But in the movie I love how the character The Lorax starts to place rocks around the tree stump and it’s a beautiful moment where he works with the animals to create a monument around something of great importance that has died.  The animals in the forest (Humming-Fish and Bar-ba-loots) all lend a hand and soon the stump is surrounded by rocks. They flash to this stump at the end of the movie when all the trees have been cut down. This was understated brilliance number one from the movie.

My other favorite part in the movie was when Betty White’s character (the very fun and wise grandmother in the movie) sees the Truffula seed her grandson is given and says to the seed “Oh!  I remember you!” and is so excited. You see, she is the only character in the movie that actually remembers what a real tree looks like. I haven’t seen the movie producers or other movie reviewers talk about the importance of giving a grandparent such a key role in the film, but I think it’s brilliant that she is one of the main characters and heroes in the movie. I wonder if they are making reference to how today’s society is moving towards harkening back to how our grandparents did things in our desires to become more ‘eco’. Actions and everyday life that is ‘green’ to us was just how it was more than 60 years ago. Plastic did not exist and the environment was treated with so much more respect, but it wasn’t out of a way to be ‘green’ or ‘cool’ . . . it simply just was.  If they meant to do this – I got the message loud and clear. Relying on the expertise and knowledge of the grandmother in the movie truly helps save the day in the film and she was my favorite character.  A good lesson to take away from the movie – learn from older generations. They have so much knowledge on how to do things better…that includes not indulging in over-consumption of  ‘things’ and ‘stuff’.

I was expecting to face palm or roll my eyes at the ‘romantic’ element in the movie. I mean, really, it’s Dr. Seuss. . . but unlike other parents I’ve heard make mention of the romantic story-line, it was very low-key and gave the older crowd in the audience a laugh.  The elephant in the room I do need to write about is the amount of commercialism associated with The Lorax.  I’m a rational enough person to separate commercialism via car sponsorship, toys, and many other items of Lorax merchandise we don’t need….but is everyone? I’ve read the uproar over Mazda using the ‘Lorax approved’ button to sell gas fueled cars but the sponsorship relationship that got me upset was the one signed with Target. For me, Target (which we don’t have in Canada) is an equivalent of Walmart (which we have plenty of in Canada) and why this company was given the rights to distribute and mass commercialize this movie still has me shaking my head. If the movie producers wanted to really make a statement, they would have not have made more ‘stuff’ that adds to the problem of over-consumption and greed that is so harmful to the environment. This is the goal of the movie – to educate against consumption. “Biggering and biggering” was the problem and the song routine that really drove home these words and also included messages of greed and power. In my opinion, this was a colossal error and I encourage parents to not buy that stuffie or plastic toy their child wants with the Lorax’s face attached and explain to the child why you’re not buying the toy. Take that opportunity to talk about the message and true goal from the book and movie.

I think all parents and children will learn a positive message from the movie The Lorax. Not all children (especially young ones) are able to truly understand what Dr. Seuss  was trying to tell us from the book The Lorax. Sometimes it’s easier to see it on the big screen where there is more detail and a longer timeline to get the message across. I asked my sons what message they took away from the movie and Angelo responded “unless people care a lot about nature, bad things will happen to it”.  It was my older son’s short response that really surprised and delighted me “only take what you really need from nature”.  I’m glad I have a reference point now with my younger daughters when we talk about plastic toys, nature, and our own consumption. It is much easier to point to messages from the movie with the younger crowd. Thumbs up and I’m excited to see change inspired by the retelling of this brilliant and beautiful story!!

Related Articles:

I loved looking back on the article I wrote about the book The Lorax from 4 years ago. I still love the book this much and take away a new message every time I read it to my children. Here is the post:

The Greenest Book You’ll Buy….and It’s Dr. Seuss!


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3 Responses to Movie Review: The Lorax

  1. Beth Terry March 5, 2012 at 3:59 am #

    I love your older son’s response: Only take what you need from nature. Because of course we all have to consumer to stay alive. It’s a balance between taking only as much as we need and taking as much as we can. I liked that in the film, the Once-Ler at first seems to have struck a workable bargain with the Lorax — they were taking the Truffula tufts from the trees without cutting them down. It seems like that could have been a sustainable plan, until greed took over and they wanted more and more faster and faster — biggering and biggering. I loved that song, by the way.

    And yeah, the whole commercialization through product endorsements that Universal is doing is just crazy in light of the message of the movie. It boggles my mind.

    Thank you for this post. Oh, and yes about the grandmother too. Great point.

  2. Amity @GreenGiftsGuide March 5, 2012 at 7:03 am #

    We saw it this weekend and, for the most, part loved it too. The Truffula Trees really made me long for a world where they were real 🙂

    I wasn’t a fan of all the commercial ties that went along with the movie – and the general idea that business = evil, when you could say the very same thing about the Hollywood machine.

    You’re so right about the grandmother. Plus she was hysterical in the Scrabble scene 🙂

    As always, the book is better than the movie, but if it introduces this beloved book to non-readers… or gets more people to “speak for the trees,” that’s a big plus!

  3. Brenna @ Almost All The Truth March 5, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    What a lovely review. I went into the theater ready to dislike the movie, simply because I do love the book so much and had only seen the promotional tie-ins until then, but I did really enjoy it.

    The grandmother was amazing. I love that she was given such an important role, since many of us that are following a green, back-to-nature journey are following the paths of our grandmothers. Her tone and expression during the scene with the seed was priceless.

    I do hope that lots of people take away the message and do not partake in the meaningless stuff that is attached to the movie. Our theater was packed and if they all recognized that message of biggering, just think of the impact!

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