‘The Lorax’ Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated November 27th, 2014 at 3:25 pm,

Dr Seuss The Lorax starring Danny DeVito Zac Efron Ed Helms Taylor Swift and Betty White Review The Lorax Review

The Lorax may be a movie with a message, but it’s not necessarily a bad one, and the film does a good job of conveying it in an at times moving, at times thought-provoking, way.

Universal’s 3D feature film adaption of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is actually the second time the beloved writer’s story has been brought to the screen – the first time being an animated short that premiered on TV back in 1972. In that 40-year span between Lorax adaptations, the issue of environmental preservation has continued to rage, and so the tale is (unfortunately) as relevant today as it was decades ago.

But is a 3D movie rife with musical numbers, slapstick comedy and a “hip” modern edge really the best delivery system for a message to kids about environmental responsibility? Or is the presentation of the message at odds with the message itself?

In this expanded take on Dr. Seuss’ tale we meet Ted (voice of Zac Efron), a resident of “Thneed-Ville,” an encapsulated city of complete artifice, where even the “trees” are mechanical, and fresh air is a commodity sold by diminutive tycoon, Mr. O’Hare (voice of Rob Riggle). Ted likes a girl named Audrey (voice of Taylor Swift) and Audrey wants nothing more than to see a real, live Truffula Tree, and Ted wants nothing more than to be the man who brings it to her. On advice from his Grandma Norma (voice of Betty White), Ted does the unthinkable: he ventures out of the mechanical bubble that is Thneed-Ville into the wastelands to seek out “The Once-ler,” a mysterious figure who Grandma Norma claims is the only man who knows what happened to the trees.

Ted tracks down the Once-ler (voice of Ed Helms) – a grungy shut-in with a few screws loose – and manages to get him to tell the tale of his younger years as a would-be entrepreneur, who came to the valley to harvest Truffula Tree tufts (the furry top of the tree) for an all-purpose invention called a “Thneed” (which looks hilariously like a smaller version the Snuggie). When the young Once-ler topples his first tree, he brings forth The Lorax (voice of Danny DeVito), a guardian spirit of the forest who warns the Once-ler that his desecration of the tree will have grave consequences.

At first the Once-ler heeds the warning, but when the Thneed miraculously becomes a hit, the high-demand and ample profits give the Once-ler all the reason he needs to harvest the Truffula Trees nonstop. As Ted listens to the tale of the Once-ler’s eventual downfall, he quickly realizes that his quest to find a tree may have more importance than simply landing him the girl he likes.

Zac Efron and Taylor Swift in The Lorax The Lorax Review

Zac Efron and Taylor Swift in ‘The Lorax’

The Lorax is a strange mix of (sometimes conflicting) ideas and elements, but it ultimately works as a solid animated feature, which offers a positive message for the juice box crowd to take home. The film starts off looking like any other big-budget animated feature cooked up at a major studio, with kooky cartoon characters, frantic onscreen action to hold the kids’ easily-diverted attention, high-production musical numbers and a toned-down, demographically-friendly version of Dr. Seuss’ often strange imagination. It’s around the middle of the film that the gears shift, and we get into the more adult (and potentially politically-divisive) ruminations on Randian principles of big-business weighed against environmental ethics – with a song titled “How Bad Can I Be?” offering a child-palatable rundown of those conflicting views, which have been debated in socio-political discourse for decades now.

For those worried about the film pushing a political agenda: Dr. Seuss intended the story to be one of environmental awareness, so it’s an unavoidable part of the film’s DNA. The movie stays grounded in its view of the Once-ler and his mistakes; he’s not depicted as a monster, just a misguided guy thinking only of the short-term. The final third of the film wisely invests more effort into preaching environmental responsibility on a personal level, than it does condemning big business or pushing a larger environmental political agenda. If you’re ok with your kids wanting to help plant trees and/or keep their neighborhood clean, then The Lorax is no threat to your values or politics.

The Once Ler in The Lorax The Lorax Review

Ed Helms as The Once-ler in ‘The Lorax’

Visually, The Lorax is a pretty spectacular piece of 3D entertainment. The colors or vibrant and the animation style pays nice homage to the illustrations of Dr. Seuss. If there is one design flaw to speak of, it is the younger version of the Once-ler, who looks like a composite of just about everything and anything market research said a younger demographic responds to in a character. He’s a hipster/rocker/bohemian/nerd, and looks so out of place in a Seussian world that it’s a little distracting. Other than that though, the film is pure eye candy.

As stated, The Lorax may be a movie with a message, but it’s not necessarily a bad one, and the film does a good job of conveying it in an at times moving, at times thought-provoking, way. The fact that it indulges in studio-sanctioned silliness when not being poignant and pointed was a minus for me; but maybe bells and whistles are what’s needed to keep the kids interested long enough to get the lesson.

The Lorax is now playing in 2D and 3D theaters. It is Rated PG for brief mild language.


Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

TAGS: The lorax
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  1. I think The Lorax is important movie story that can be used to teach kids about our environment. One way to teach children to be more sensitive to plants and nature is to have them grow the most sensitive plant of all – the TickleMe Plant. Though it’s not a Truffula tree, what makes the pet TickleMe Plant so magical is that it a real animated plant that reacts by closing its leaves and lowering its branches when you tickle it! Just search TickleMe Plant to see a live video of one in action and to get your own little greenhouse kit to grow one. Every Lorax fan can grow a TickleMe Plant indoors. My students love their Pet TickleMe Plant and we have used them for Dr. Seuss themed parties.

    • I have read that the “tickleme” plant is actually a noxious weed in some environments.. so please be mindful not to make the same mistake the Onceler made by promoting and helping someone profit from something that may be harmful in some environments… cheers

  2. I saw this yesterday and loved every minute of it. The message was NOT overblown or stuffed down anyone’s throat; the characters were well-presented (engaging and entertaining); and the Seussian world was wonderfully depicted and downright beautiful. The 3D was amazing, and even the songs (an element which I often find grating in films) were cute and hilarious AND fitting.

    I’m amused (and saddened) by those who believe it to be nothing more than an “indoctrination film” or a spreading of the “liberal agenda”. Heaven forbid that we entertain our children and ourselves while learning how important the environment which sustains us actually is…

    DAMN YOU, Smokey the Bear, Hootie the Owl, and Single-Tear Native American (from the ’70s) and your clearly COMMUNIST agenda…!

    • Oh, and btw, I saw it on a Saturday afternoon, and there were plenty of kids in attendance. I both saw and heard happy laughter throughout the film. So, there you go…


      • All that proves is that we were in two different theaters with two very different audiences.

        • That’s all I was trying to point out. It was not EVERYONE who was bored or disgruntled while watching the film…despite what some of those who hated the film may wish to assume.

          • “I’m amused (and saddened) by those who believe it to be nothing more than an “indoctrination film” or a spreading of the “liberal agenda”. Heaven forbid that we entertain our children and ourselves while learning how important the environment which sustains us actually is…”

            No, you are offended by those who take a different view of the film than you do. Your condescending attitude towards anyone who didn’t like the film reveals that YOU think everyone should have liked it. I never said everyone was bored, just those I observed in the theater.

            I was surprised at how bad this movie was, as I really enjoyed “Horton Hears a Who”

            • Please, do not speak for me. I do not care if someone did not like the film, as their preference is none of my business. My point was very specifically that there are people who DID enjoy it, in response to all of the negative comments AND that I wonder why they are seeing “indoctrination” instead of just a fun film with a positive message. I said NOTHING about whether anyone should or should not LIKE the film.

              Just because you want to read into my comments something that might deflect the fact YOU are the one feeling offended by the film (and, I would imagine then, by the source material written by Dr. Seuss years ago?) does NOT mean you are right in your assumption.

              You didn’t like it? Fine. I did. You saw a political agenda in it? I did not.

              Case closed.

  3. We had high hopes…but this movie was nothing like the trailers indicated. Worst movie I’ve ever taken my kids to…filled with typical Hollywood stereotypes and story lines, can you say “indoctrination”?…we left after 15 minutes. Even my five year old was saying, “Mom, this movie doesn’t make any sense!”

    • I just have to ask…What Hollywood stereotypes and storylines? You DO know this was a filmed version of a Dr. Seuss story, right? Also, who was the film trying to indoctrinate and into what?

      • If you have to ask, your already part of the flock.

        • Typical response for someone who has no real answer…cute.

          • the movie was trying to indoctrinate the class warfare that is plaguing this country. Its one thing, like i said in my previous comment, that its one thing to put your beliefs out in a movie like Avatar or Green Zone where the audience is more mature and can decipher it themselves, but little kids is a bit over the line.

              • Interesting point there. I never did see that viewpoint. Great point my friend. I was a little bit disappointed with how much emphasis they put on Ted and his struggle with O’Hare instead of the original story which really is about responsibility more than anything. The time they spent on the actual Lorax story was very small it seemed and summed up quickly by the song at the end. I would have preferred them to not sing the song and not even have O’Hare in the movie at all. I do agree with Sallie though because the way they painted rednecks or people from the country was a little offensive. I live in a rural town and that’s not how it is at all, and I know very few rural people that are like that. But I mean again that is one of those things were it would have been just fine without the big musical numbers and all the added material. I guess that’s just the fanboy in me who would like a movie studio actually follow the original content along really well like in LOTR or The Lion, the With, and the Wardrobe. But again thats just me.

  4. This movie was not saying big business was evil??? This movie was great when it was about THE ORIGINAL CONTENT. Only about 40 percent of the movie was from the book and it portrayed the main villain as a greedy short guy who would do anything he could to destroy the tree so he can stay in business. See I agree that yes there is corruption, but this isn’t something you portray to kids at young ages. It made more sense in Avatar because it was age appropriate and the viewers could decipher if they liked it or not as where younger kids can’t. Give this movie some time and we will have many kids running around saying that all big business men are evil with two big sidekicks to do his dirty work for him. I again have no issue with political messages like in Green Zone or Avatar but they are age appropriate. These kids can’t fend for themselves and it becomes indoctrination at that point. I did enjoy Danny De Vito as the Lorax and wish I could have seen more of that instead of Ted.

  5. I loved the movie! <3 It was really cute and I actually loved how the young Once-ler was a normal human. It made the effect stronger I think. Anyways I was bawling in the middle of the movie and then I was crying tears of joy at the end. I absolutely LOVED it. It's my faveorite movie now and I would give it 5 STARS. BTW watch it in 3D :)

  6. 1. Why do both main characters have the same hair style -and- color? Secondly, I would like to see a forgien movie remake this movie instead- who isn’t focused on I suppose “Playing it safe” Which is partly what this movie seemed like it was trying to do.

    Not only should movies like these be trying to take children seriously, but I feel like you can get a kid to laugh by other means than mocking the south. I don’t think you’ll confuse a kid if you say, “Hey, Kid, one day you’ll be the onceler if you don’t try to do something” Which is what I got from the original… I just had really really really high expectations of this movie. And the failed in all ways as a movie and Dr. Suess would have hated this movie more than any of the others made previously.

  7. HAD (i.e. forced ;)) to go see this with my younger sister tonight.
    Waste of an hour and a half (didn’t even get good trailers).
    It’s a good movie for kids up till the age of 10 (and that’s being generous), but it failed to impress me.
    My recommendation: Skip it. Just re-watch something like Toy Story again.

    That said, I have to admit, it did a good job of educating kids about the need for trees and why we should preserve them…

  8. I think the movie was great but graphics were 70% only

  9. loved the movie overall but was quite disappointed that they used Danny DeVito for the voice of the lorax, It just doesnt fit his character.