If you look hard enough in just about any kids movie, you can find deep in the heart of it is a message. Sometimes it’s buried deep beneath a pile of commercial endorsements, fart jokes, special effects, and silly slapstick humor that always seems to appeal to the elementary school crowd. But no matter how deep it’s buried, somewhere there’s a message.
But rarely does a movie come out waving its message on a big bold animated anti-establishment tree-hugging flag. The Lorax does just that. And as a mom, and a member of the human race, I hope there are hundred more movies just like it.
The Lorax of course is based on one of Dr. Seuss’s most well known and boldest books. And though, as movies often do, the movie expands on the story (otherwise it would’ve been a 15 minute film) it never loses the message of the original story, one that, as an adult, I’ve never been able to finish without crying.
The movie follows Ted (Zac Efron), a 12 year old who grows up in a town that has no trees. In fact everything in Ted’s town is plastic and antiseptic. People even buy bottled air. To win over the affection of a neighbor girl (Taylor Swift) who longs to see what a real tree looks like, Ted decides to find her one.
This brings Ted to vast wasteland that exists outside of town where he meets the Once-Ler (Ed Helms) who tells Ted the sad tale of what happened to the trees.
It’s via flashbacks that we hear the tale that we’ll recognize as the Dr. Seuss original (not omitting anything from the book, only adding to). It is here we meet the Lorax who is the keeper of the trees and arrives post haste when the Once-ler arrives in the magical Truffala Tree forest to manufacturer his magnificent new product that everyone must have, thneeds. Of course thneeds can only be made from the beautiful truffala trees, and eventually the Once-ler’s need to make more, more, more costs the forest every single tree.
Thinly veiled analogies for what corporations have been doing to the environment for decades. And of course, fueled by our own need to have more, more, more.
There has been a lot of political controversy surrounding the movie. Right Wing conspiracy theorists have claimed that the movie (and book for that matter) is an attempt to brainwash and indoctrine our children with a liberal agenda. Meanwhile the left wing has come down on the Lorax for not being environmental enough and diminishing the message of anti-consumerism by selling everything from pancakes at IHOP, to Target to SUVs.
But I’m here to tell you a secret… This movie? It’s neither.
What it is is a way to teach your kids that they hold the power to change the world. All the talking heads on TV and on the internet have no power over the message your child will take away from this movie.
The one that Dr. Seuss had intended them to leave with in the first place,
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better. It’s not.”