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When a new family film comes out based on a ‘classic’ children’s book, you sometimes wonder if it will be a good interpretation or a butcher job. And, in the case of some films the bet it on for whether they can take what would normally fill under 30 minutes and make it into a feature length film. The Lorax is one such movie that we put into our player with a little trepidation.
Thankfully, they have done a fantastic job of taking the Dr. Seuss Classic story, The Lorax, and exploding the story to look beyond what happens in the original book.
The Lorax Story Line
Ted Wiggins is a 12 year old boy living in the walled city, Thneedville, where everything is artificial and the air is ‘imported’ by O’Hare. He has a crush on a girl, Audrey, who confesses she’d love to see a REAL tree. Chatting with his grandmother, Ted learns about the Once-ler who lives outside the city and can be asked to tell his about trees and where he might find one so long as Ted can “pay fifteen cents, a nail and a shell of great-great-great grandfather snail.”
Ted soon comes to learn that his bright and cheery town is really sitting amid a wasteland with a difficult journey to where the Once-ler lives. And, he ends up having to make multiple visits at the Once’-ler will not tell his story all in one sitting. Some of those subsequent visits require Ted to be a bit crafty in how to leave the city while under the watchful eye of Mr. O’Hare.
The story the Once-ler tells is quite familiar for Dr. Seuss fans. He came as a young man to the pristine area and discovered that the Truffula Tree forest is the ideal place to harvest the fur like tops of the trees to make his soon to be popular Thneeds, which is a ‘multi-use’ product as it can be used for a variety of things. Upon chopping down the first Truffula tree (much to the shock of the animal population watching), he meets the Lorax ~ protector of the forest.
The Lorax tries to sway the Once-ler’s actions so that he doesn’t clear cut the forest just to harvest the raw materials for making Thneeds. But, once the Thneeds become popular and money is to be made, greed takes hold and before he even realizes what he has done, the Once-ler has clear cut all the trees leaving behind nothing but devastation and pollution from his factories.
The Lorax and animals all depart leaving the Once-ler alone with the repercussions of his poor decisions. The near by city of Thneedville is not such a great place to be any longer. Yet, a young maintenance man, Aloysius O’Hare, has the idea to bring clear air to the town which will improve their quality of life as well as make him rich.
Now, when the Lorax departed, he left the Once-ler with a stone engraved with the single word “Unless.” It isn’t until he’s retold his story to Ted that he has his epiphany. He entrusts Ted with the lone Truffula seed which has Ted embarking on the journey to not only plant the seed where all can see, but to expose the truth to his community.
Like most Hollywood films, the Lorax ends positively with the long chase scenes ending with O’Hare being put aside in the hopes of producing FREE air from trees. And, the animals and Lorax make the long journey home.
Our Thoughts about The Lorax
Overall, the family really enjoyed this movie. Even Mr. O, who often disappears when the boys and I watch an animated film, stayed in the room and was chuckling at different points with the rest of us. Some of the irony (e.g. selling bottled air to people as they’ll pay for anything in a bottle) went over the younger kids heads, but provided that touch to keep the adults interested. The actors supplying voices for the different characters did a great job, especially Danny DeVito as the Lorax. (Somehow I can envision him pulling the kind of prank the Lorax pulls on Ted to try and scare him away.)
The one aspect that didn’t get an all around thumbs up was with regard to the music. Some of the a more modern style selections was given a thumbs down by the boys, though.
But, all in all, it’s a family friendly film which even our 3 year old wanted to watch. And, the environmental message of taking care of our environment came through without being force fed upon the audience.
This post has been submitted for inclusion in The Christian Home Issue 96 hosted here. As the featured columnist for the Movies and Music category, you can be looking forward to weekly posts on what we are watching or music we’ve enjoyed. Feel free to leave suggestions for me as well that are family friendly or uplifting for adults. While I have movies and some music selections in mind, I’m always on the lookout for other great choices.