March 8, 2012Let 'The Lorax' Be Your Guide
"I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees," opens the self-named "guardian of the trees" and hero of the film version of Dr. Seuss's 1971 classic children's book, The Lorax, setting up the story of what went so wrong in a town as bright, happy, yet as plastic as Thneedville.
On the surface all seems well in Thneedville, yet there is not one living plant or tree inhabiting it. Generations of residents haven't known what they're missing until a boy named Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) first learns a real, live sapling is the way to a special girl's heart.
As Ted seeks to find what, exactly, did happen to trees, those ancient objects of lore, the story's villain, and now shunned Once-ler, gives him the town's history and how an object he invented, the Thneed (a shapeless, forgettable, thing that could be substituted for any commercial product today) corrupted nature. Through it all, Ted learns trees have a much bigger purpose than for just getting the girl.
The Lorax descends from the sky whenever a tree is chopped down. His heavenly form stands as our collective conscience - to not lightly choose industry when pitted against nature.
The plastic, commercialized industry bemoaned as the story's premise is ironically part of the film itself: marketers cleverly released The Lorax on what would have been Theodor Seuss Geisel's 108th birthday, which has also been turned into "I Love Reading Day" in our nation's schools in recent years. No wonder viewers are flocking to theatres to see it.
Still, 41 years since the picture book's release, the conservation themes are just as relevant today. Unlike other kids' films of late that aim for heavy, environmental messages, like Happy Feet 2, the lessons in The Lorax are simple and uncontroversial: 1) Plant a tree. 2) Don't cut trees down unnecessarily.
The movie is filled with bright colors, even brighter music, and the look and feel of a Dr. Seuss book. Yet Seuss's use of rhyme and meter, why some call him the Shakespeare of children's books, are acutely absent on the big screen.
There are environmental lessons in The Lorax, but also themes about greed, making amends, and teamwork that won't be lost on kids older than 6. The PG rating is for some mild violence and language.
So all in all, it's worth a see, but do not fret, just save a tree!
Julie Samrick is a stay-at-home mom of 4 young kids and the founder of Kid Focused, a site devoted to children and family issues. Subscribe to the free Kid Focused newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com
Posted by Staff at 10:23 AM