“DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX” — Voices by Danny DeVito, Betty White, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift; PG (brief mild language); in general release
Have we learned nothing from the dinosaurs? It’s time we take responsibility for our actions.
So what spurs this outburst in a review about a film based on a Dr. Seuss book?
It stems from the central themes of two movies: the first, “Jurassic Park,” and the second, “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.” Although these two films are not going to be on the same screen anytime soon, they do share a message.
The animated film “The Lorax” opens in the town of Thneedville, a quiet place where everything is peaceful and nothing natural is growing.
All the trees and bushes are plastic or metal, some have mood lighting and others are inflatable. Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) is 12 and is trying to win the heart of Audrey (voiced by Taylor Swift), the girl of his dreams. Audrey shows him a painting of trees that she has done, and tells him that she would marry the guy who shows her a real tree. Ted is off to find one — and fast.
Grammy Norma (Betty White) tells Ted that he must go talk to the Once-ler (Ed Helms) in order to understand about trees.
Ted finds a way out of town and goes to speak with the Once-ler, who tells him the story of how he cut down trees to make Thneeds, a wonderful invention that everyone needed. Once he started cutting down trees, the Lorax (Danny DeVito) showed up to stop him.
Once Ted gets back into town, he is stopped by Mr. O’Hare. He sells the air that keeps Thneedville looking as clean and feeling as fresh as it does.
Someone going outside the wall could be harmful to the city and his business. Ted keeps going to visit the Once-ler, though, to learn more about trees and how he can get one.
So what message could possibly be shared by this animated film and “Jurassic Park”? It’s a very simple one stated by Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) in “Jurassic Park,” when he says: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
The sentiment that we must think about our actions is the central message of “The Lorax.” Admittedly, that message does come from an environmental spin in the film, but it is still valid.
This film’s environmental angle comes from the book, so don’t be surprised by it. At least it is presented right from the start of the movie, unlike other animated films that have a fun story and then hit you with the environmental message (i.e., “Happy Feet”).
All in all, “The Lorax” is a fun film. Kids will like it and there are enough little gags to make the adults laugh, too. The fish and the bears have some funny moments. The main thing for parents to worry about is some mild language in the film. Most of that comes from someone threatening another person, nothing in the way of swearing. There is one punch thrown in the film, but it is kind of comedic. This film is done by Illumination Entertainment, the same folks who made “Despicable Me.” The animation in “The Lorax” is not quite as good as that, but the movie still looks great and is funny.
Parents, taking your kids to this film could be either a very nice teaching moment, or just a fun trip to the movies. Of course, if you don’t go to “The Lorax,” you could always scare them with “Jurassic Park.” It’s your choice.
“The Lorax” is rated PG for some brief mild language; running time: 94 minutes.
Shawn O'Neill is the Family Man Movie Reviewer on BYU Radio. His reviews can be heard on BYURadio.org and on SiriusXM Channel 143.