Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
Twelve-year-old Ted (voice of Zac Efron) lives on a perfectly manicured street lined with blow-up bushes, battery-operated trees and plastic flowers that never fade. Typical of many tween boys, he’s wildly infatuated with the high school girl that lives in the neighborhood. Like any guy overcome with adolescent yearning, he’s willing to do almost anything to win her affection.
In this case, what Audrey (voice of Taylor Swift) wants more than anything is to see a real tree.
Sneaking outside the shield of Thneed-Ville’s city walls, Ted rides his motorized bike through a stinky, decimated, stump-strewn landscape until he comes to the home of the Once-ler (voice by Ed Helms). Coaxing information out of the hermit with a payment of “15 cents, a nail and the shell of a great, great, great grandfather snail”, Ted discovers the disturbing truth behind the disappearance of the colorful, cotton candy-shaped Truffula tress.
Setting out to make his fortune, The Once-ler had big dreams. But he was no Johnny Appleseed. Instead he allowed himself to be overcome by ambition. And while he cut down the forest in the name of progress, the mysterious Lorax (voice by Danny DeVito), guardian of the trees, stood by needling the boy’s conscience with a mournful look.
Fueling kids’ films with an environmental message isn’t bad. Hopefully if anything, it will inspire the next generation to solve today’s problems. But settling for oversimplified, polarizing answers is unfair. “Plant a tree, save the world” likely won’t cut it when it comes to developing environmentally sustainable solutions for the future.
On the other hand, while the message often feels heavy-handed (and may be as controversial as the book was when it released in 1971), the filmmakers have festooned this tale with stunning 3D animation, idyllic forest creatures and enough side jokes to entertain most kids and adults. And though Dr. Seuss’ gloomy fable of the Lorax falls far short of providing any balanced, real world remedies, with any luck it may encourage families to talk about steps they can personally take to curb their own consumerism and preserve nature in their own backyards.