‘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. You used one paragraph twice.

    • Bill,

      Thanks, saw that and fixed it.


  2. Not sure about this… Let’s just fast-forward to Despicable Me 2, already!

  3. “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.”

    Kofi – I will hold you to this as I am seeing it with my daughter tomorrow.
    Actually if it gets too enviropreachy my daughter (10) may ask to walk out. :)

    • My wife, daughter and I liked the movie. I am glad I knew about the message going in as that helped ease me into it. Overall it was fun. But my daughter won’t be getting the DVD. Multiple viewings could sway her to believe all corporations are bad and making money by being inventive is a sin.

  4. Thanks for the good review, and though you may not have meant it that way,I have to object to your portrayal of environmental concern as a “political” issue. Concern for the environment is an ethical, moral, aesthetic, and ultimately practical issue, but not a partisan one. Please don’t be drawn into the mantra that everything these days must be branded as either a “liberal” or a “conservative” issue. After all, conservation was born of conservative thinkers, and the founders were very suspicious of corporate greed.

    • Yay! Someone in the comments making sense!

      It just boggles my mind how people can be so quick to denounce something as caring for the environment as some “filthy liberal agenda”

      Now, I haven’t seen the movie yet, and I know I hate movies that get too “preachy”. Still, I swear the same people criticizing the Lorax for its horrible LIBERAL agenda (oooh how EVIL) would probably look at Mary Poppins (just watched it the other day) as liberal propaganda making a mockery of the hard working business man even though it’s hardly the point or intention at all :/

    • I agree, also remember the idea of National Parks came from Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican.

  5. I love the original Lorax cartoon, and I feel that it still carries a very powerful enviornmental message that over time has grown more relevant than ever. It’s high time the Lorax has made his triumphant return.

  6. And whats wrong with a little message in a movie
    especially making this world a better place to live:)

  7. I am not against the message of the film but I refuse to take lessons from corporations, I am against the people behind the film trying to give me lessons. I wonder if they did something for the environment during the filming.

  8. I you’re worried about the message: read the book first! It is one of my favorite Seuss books–in fact, I like it so much I’m afraid to watch the film!

  9. good review, boy just when I thought we could escape politics for one moment it’s still creeping in, one of these days we will go back to the day when we could disagree and still get along long enough to solve our problems ans save our world from the evil doers, oh wait that only happens in make believe again still good review and I am not giving up my hope for mankind even in real life!

  10. Dr Seuss wrote this story over 40 years ago and it’s more relevant today than it was back then.
    A really cool story about the planet we all share and the dangers man poses to it.
    The Lorax will be #1 this weekend and will endure for many generations to come.
    What a refreshing change from that piece of trash , propaganda Acts Of Valor.
    Happy Birthday, Dr Seuss. You’ll always be seen as a true visionary.

  11. I took my six year old boy to this. We both were glued the entire movie. The 3D was outstanding!

    Carl Baltes
    Fort Wayne Indiana

  12. I just saw the movie with my kid and let me tell you if I ever regret spending money on a stupid movie this is it. What i stupid piece of garbage!
    This is not a movie with a message, this is indoctrination. This grabage won’t last too long………..Have a good day :)~

  13. hahaha little and cute cat said “that’s woman”when he saw her. i guess this movie very funny and my style animation. if it is possible i would want to enter this scene

  14. Hollywood the Lorax is nothing more then the trisection save the planet film.
    it seems to punch a demanding look at wood cutters being connected to big money greed.
    is it greed to have fire wood. is it greed to build a chicken house. as for the polluted air I can not
    say much about that. but if you want to know look up who made it and change it then stop blaming and start pointing fingers at the one responsible for the mass. and tell them to clean it up.

  15. Seems that between my fears about what I read of this movie combined with the lackluster critic reviews, I was justified in my opinion.

    I will refrain from commenting further though as I’m not willing to waste my money on this. So a review to see the specifics will have to wait 3 months for redbox.

  16. I took my three grandsons to see the Lorax last night, ages 7, 9 and 9. Total waste of money. They were bored to the point we left before the movie ended. This movie was nothing more than liberal political indoctrination claptrap.
    I wish I had read a review before wasting the money.

  17. This movie sends an important environmental message and is critical of corporate greed and exploitation of finite resources. Anyone who can’t appreciate that is selfish and does’nt care that we consume at an unsustainable rate.

    • The movie attempts to advance the great eco hoax.
      Got news for you, your posting on a site brought to you by a greedy corporation, employing greedy workers who selfishly pay their taxes and feed their children. Jim Jones would have loved you.

      • @John

        Oh please.

        This movie did NOT try to get you to vote for Al Gore or believe in climate change. Its message was simple: Gotta be conscious of the environment, kids – plant trees. THE END. It’s not about business WORKERS who make a wage to feed their family – in fact, that depiction is in NO way connected to the Once-ler or his tale. The Once-ler destroyed an entire ecosystem in order to make the real-world equivalent of Snuggies – and felt indifferent about it. You are taking that depiction and stretching it into something it’s not.

        I feel like political partisanship has killed basic common sense and sensibility…

        • Kofi…beautifully said.


  18. Yah, OK. Whose Al Gore?

  19. We just came from watching this. It was a nice little film and the message really didn’t bother me (except for a couple of scenes that showed a kid glowing because he took a swim in a pool). Like Kofi said, it really didn’t come down hard on corporations being modest, only going overboard with destruction/excessive use of natural resources. I would give it 3/5.

  20. I saw the movie yesterday with my best friend. We are both 19 years old and thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the movie. I grew up with Dr. Seuss and love watching movie adaptations of his work.

    I didn’t read this review until after the movie, but all I know is that I recommend it.

  21. Ok went this weekend with my Daughter and this was just a Political agenda movie, what happen to making Kids movies just that a Kids movie without all of the political Agenda

    • And what agenda was that, Charlie?

  22. Just a warning to parents — My movie theater showed a trailer to ParaNorman which totally freaked out my kids — 1st and 3rd grade. Especially my 1st grader who only watched a second of it before covering her eyes for the remainder. The image stuck in her mind and came back to her when it was time to go to bed. She was crying that she couldn’t stop thinking about it.

    And I know the movie is rated PG, but they are marketing this film to first graders — her teacher read the book to the class the week of the opening and they made the trees as a craft. I think the movie was fine for her to watch, but the trailer was not!

    • Surely that’s not as bad as the horrible brainwashing of liberal ideas affecting our children! Right, RIGHT!?!?

      I kid, I kid. That’s seriously awful. I hope they recover soon :(

  23. Today, my seven year old son convinced me to see THE LORAX. I had not read the book and was not interested. I am telling everyone I know, if you only see one movie in your lifetime, see THE LORAX ( especially in 3D ). I will be buying the DVD the day it arrives in stores.

    The word UNLESS will now be posted in several places within our home.

  24. I do want to see this movie I love the good Dr. But if you want to go deep about the Lorax approving this movie. No he wouldn’t. It was rendered on computers, on a render farm that is composed of thousands of power hungry CPUs. Although they my be modern “Green” chips, and they are almost exactly the same types in everyone’s computers. They have to be housed in large (sometimes small) buildings. Building need lots of electricity to run the A.C. for the employees not to mention the RF’s X amount of CPUs that require cooling and airflow. Then just for the sake of being ridiculous… The employees usually have a computer to do their work. The place must be lighted, each person needs food or water everyday. They each live somewhere that requires all of the same electrical power. They own t.v sets and more computers at home, not to mention the amount of food consumed in the home. Then they have to drive to work everyday and that requires gasoline that was pumped and refined. The car was built using billions of tons of mined metal that was shipped from the mine to the location of the metal manufacturer and then turned into a car. The sheer amounts of energy to create this movie, show it at thousands of theaters around the globe. Then press millions of DVDs Blurays that need to be shipped and watched on millions of TV sets. All this is possible by burning of sort of fuel, diesel, natural gas, coal, to make electricity. The amounts of sheer energy involved with making this is enormous. I say all of this while using a computer that is connected to the internet which is one of the most power hungry things on the planet. I feel like a hippy just thinking about it.

  25. Movies are about going to the extreme be it extreme action, extreme drama or extreme comedy; nobody pays $10 a head to see real life re-created on a big screen.

    Sociopolitical issues are often composed of extreme opposites with a few people sitting at various places between to two ends.

    Combining these 2, movies and sociopolitical issues is not a good idea because one is meant to be fantasy and the other reality. Mixing an environmental message into a movie causes the message to feel pushed and not simply said by those who are on the opposite end of the debate.

    Movies should be fun and entertaining and not a vehicle for an sociopolitical issue no matter what it is.

  26. Get your heads out of your bottoms and just enjoy the movie. Go green!!!!

    • And the Kool Aide continues to flow.

  27. Disappointed in this movie, nothing but a 90 minute environmental infomercial in cartoon form. At various times throughout the movie the theater full of kids grew noticeably restless and bored.