Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is no stranger to controversy. When the original book came out, the lumber industry took exception, saying Geisel was being unfair to the logging industry, which they said worked to be responsible through efficiencies and re-seeding efforts. They even came out with their own version of the book called The Truax. Now that the newest version of the movie is out, opening this Friday, there are more controversies to be voiced, including the promotion of everything from Mazda to IHOP pancakes to Pottery Barn Kids furniture.
But really, I never noticed that stuff. What I did notice…and what I take exception to… were the two overriding themes:
Teenage Hormones and Corporate Greed.
Wait. Isn’t The Lorax about conservation? Isn’t it about protection our environment? I was expecting some tree loving, green colored, flower hugging messages.
Instead, I got: Boy has a crush on girl. Girl wants a real tree. Boy goes to find one, and learns about how corporate greed has created a wasteland of polluted air and ravaged landscape. Rich, corporate villain who runs town feels threatened by boy and sends his henchmen to bully him. There’s some running around in a chase scene as greedy villain tries to stop boy and girl from planting the last remaining seed. In the end, good triumphs evil and the seed gets planted. The end. Expect to see shades of the BP oil spill, some cliches (bad guys wear the black hats) and overstated environmental silliness (like glowing children).
Okay – that does sound a little cynical. There are also some bright spots: a great grandma character played by Betty White. You can’t really beat Betty White. There’s toe-tapping music and good singing, after all, it’s Zac Efron and Taylor Swift. The 3D is really good – some features really pop off the screen. And the storyline is quite entertaining. Really. You just have to get past thinking it’s going to be true to the original Seuss tale.
The Lorax is rated PG, and I’m confuzzled about that. Maybe because there’s one cuss word (damn – which you’ll likely miss), some bullying and the love interest. Really, it’s appropriate for any age.
And, at the end of the day, if you do decide to go see this movie, you will find lots of wonderful messages to share with your children. You can still talk about how important it is not to destroy our environment. You can talk about how important it is to buy responsibly from responsible businesses. And you can talk about the philosophical basis of caring about who we are and how we are all connected.
Be sure to listen for some real gems in the movie. Here are my three favorite lines from the movie (and the one from the book). Do you know which comes from which?
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better. It’s not.”
“This is not what it’s about. It’s about what it can become.”
“It’s not just a seed any more than you are just a boy.”
If you do go, let me know what you think!