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March 1, 2012

Movie Review: The Lorax

I speak for the Lorax who speaks for the trees. Take your kids to the movies and teach them to care for the trees for Thneedville is not the town we all want to live in. If you believe in the message of The Lorax, the movie will show that it’s more relevant than ever 40 years after its publication. My kids and I were lucky to attend a pre-screening of The Lorax and it was a pleasant surprise that made us laugh, frown and cheer. After reading the book countless times at bedtime, The Lorax has become a staple of our home library  much like anybody who loves Dr. Seuss. When we found out the timeless green fable was coming to screen, my girls started counting the days. Minus 90, minus 89, minus 88… Finally The Lorax movie is out and it’s everything we dreamed of – and then some.

In the same vein as the movie adaptation of Horton Hears a Who, The Lorax is a book story wrapped in a movie story with pretty popsicle colors and toe-tapping tunes. You probably know the book by heart and how it ends on a question mark and a somber prophecy. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. Not it’s not.”

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that the movie provides an answer to the question of whether the last seed of a Truffula Tree can reforest the planet. The answer comes in the wonderfully plasticky and artificial world of Thneedville. The Thneeds, you remember right? “Everybody needs a Thneed.” Well, Thneedville was founded out of Thneed corporate greed and the concept improved by a new villain.

If you thought the Onceler was a bad guy, wait til you meet Aloysius O’Hare. This short and bossy business man sells a commodity even more useless than bottled water – bottled air. So here’s the premises of the story; young Ted is 12 years old, has a crush on his neighbor Audrey and wants to get her attention by giving her what she desires most. That would be a living truffula tree.  Complications ensue when Ted is tipped off by his sneaky Grammy Norma on where he can find the answer. Ted must find the Onceler outside of the city. I won’t spoil the entire movie but allow me to say that the 3-D animation works wonders in today’s Thneedville and the Lorax flashbacks.

When the truffula trees sway with the wind, you want to reach out and feel how soft they are. When the youngest bar-ba-loot looks at the Onceler with reproachful eyes, you want to give him a hug. When the Thneedville people dance to the tune of “Let it grow”, you want to jump on your feet and dance. It’s all smooth and shiny.

Now, how is the movie different from the book? First, we get to know the young boy who looks for the Onceler. Ted is the perfect kid hero. Young and idealistic, he rides a funky scooter (with a helmet, the movie is responsible head-to-toe) and will inspire kids to do whatever it takes to protect the world they love from going sour. We also discover a world made out of plastic where trees, grass and bugs are made of plastic. Hopefully, viewers get the message that we should cut plastic from our lives. And then we meet O’Hare who plots to pollute the world even more so people buy his “clean air” in single-serve bottles rather than big tanks. Another green message comes out of the O’Hare character, though it could mean many things.

Is our world black and white? Are big corporations all bad? Is corporate greed always bad for the environment? Can consumerism work in environmentally-conscious ways? The questions asked by the movie are the same as the ones in the book and there’s no easy answer but it should make people reflect on buying more for the sake of buying more.

The only part of the movie I disliked was the grand finale which reminded me in more ways than one of Wall-e. It wasn’t as fresh as the rest. It felt like a rehash of scenes already seen.

After the movie I quizzed my girls and their friends on what they liked most and the most common comments connected to the humor of the movie. The movie is funny, it really is, and a lighthearted approach to the heavy topic beats a boring spreadsheet any day. I really hope all kids get out of there wishing to do one thing for the planet. As for us, we started growing a bean on a wet cotton pad the day after we saw the movie. It’s sitting on our window sill. “It’s just like in The Lorax!” exclaimed my girls. Try it at home, kids love hands-on experiments.

 

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