Now on DVD
The Most Recent Big Screen Adaptation of Dr. Seuss
A Children's Classic
I'm a fan of Dr. Seuss. I grew up with his books and read some of them over and over to my kids. Still, as much as his work is a part of my childhood memories and those I've made with my family, on March 2, 2012, the 108th birthday of Dr. Seuss, I was not excited to see this film. It had everything to do with my being a world weary grown up at the end of a long work week. Luckily, my ten year old would not take no for an answer and she dragged me to the theater on opening night to watch The Lorax.
If you are not familiar with Dr. Seuss's childrens books, you have been living under a rock. Born in 1904 in Springfield, Massachussetts, Theodor Seuss Geisel wrote and illustrated forty six children's books. Seuss's signature style was characterized by the enchanting worlds he created through his illustrations, word play and rhyme (my favorite!). Signifying his importance as a writer who encouraged children's literacy through his creative work, Geisel's birthday has been proclaimed National Read Across America day in the U.S.  Among his best works (Green Eggs and Ham, Horton Hears a Who!, The Cat in the Hat, and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas!), The Lorax figures large as an anti-industrialization, pro-environmental fable with nature personified in the actual character of the Lorax and greed represented by the Once-ler.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
For both adults and children, it is easy to spot the allegorical nature of the film adaptation of The Lorax. The film's message may be heavy handed but it follows Seuss's original trajectory in the book faithfully plus there's some wonderful animation, songs and humor to enjoy along the way. Some differences in the film are a few embellishments of the plot. The boy who seeks out the Once-ler at the outset of the story has a name: Ted. He is trying to get a tree for the girl he likes, Audrey. (Yes, astute fans of Seuss, you'll probably notice that Ted is a variation of Theodor, the author's first name, and Audrey is the name of his surviving widow. Pretty cool subtext going on in the movie!) And while The Lorax book ends with the Once-ler giving the seed to the boy, the film's ending is a bit more complicated with some corporate greed and lots of singing thrown in. Another addition in the film is that the Once-ler's face is exposed (both as young man and old) while it was never shown in the book or in an earlier television adaptation of it. These are all changes that do not compromise the message of the original book.
Quite possibly a character in itself is the animation. We did not see it in 3D as our local theater Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lorax_teaser_poster.jpgdoesn't have that technology but, if we'd had the chance, I would have gladly paid extra to see it in 3D. The Lorax is a feast for the eyes. The valley full of Truffula trees is gorgeous. I wanted to reach out and touch the fluffy trees. The animals, adorable stooges of the Lorax, are engaging sources of The Funny in the film. Ted's animated family members and Mr. O'Hare are gloriously flawed and (therefore) seem real. The songs were pretty catchy and had me thinking about buying the soundtrack-- in particular the finale song, "Let it Grow" and its variation, "Let it Grow (Celebrate the World)", during the closing credits are pretty fabulous ear worms.
All in all, The Lorax is a faithful film adaptation of the children's book with additions to the original story that only reinforce its message. Entertaining for both children and adults, The Lorax offers something for everyone. Go see it for yourself. On a scale of one to ten with ten being the best score, I give The Lorax an eight. You can see what both critics and movie goers are saying about the film over at Rotten Tomatoes.
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