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Movie Review

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

MPAA Rating: PG for brief mild language.

Reviewed by: Laura Busch

Better than Average
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Primary Audience:
Kids Teens Adults Family
Family Kids Animation Adventure Adaptation 3D
1 hr. 34 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
March 2, 2012 (wide—3,600+ theaters)
DVD: August 7, 2012
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

enduring power of hope

EARTH’S ENVIRONMENT—Should Christians be concerned about the environment? Answer

What is man’s responsibility to the environment? Answer

reckless capitalism

Why is O’Hare happy with the idea that more factories leads to more bad air that will lead to more people buying his bottled air?

Does a person’s great success in business necessarily mean they will become a mean and greedy tyrant? How can this be avoided?

How might rain forest destruction affect our weather? Answer

Kid Explorers
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Featuring: Danny DeVitoThe Lorax (voice)
Ed HelmsThe Once-ler (voice)
Zac EfronTed (voice)
Taylor Swift … Audrey (voice)
Betty WhiteGrammy Norma (voice)
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Director: Chris Renaud
Kyle Balda (co-director)
Producer: Illumination Entertainment
Universal Pictures
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Distributor: Universal Pictures

Welcome to the town of Thneed-ville, a suburban city that is completely devoid of real trees and fresh air. All of Thneed-ville’s trees are artificial, and all of the fresh air is supplied by “O’Hare Air,” a big company that bottles and sells fresh air to all of the city’s citizens. Twelve year-old Ted (Zac Efron), who lives in Thneed-ville, wants more than anything to win the affection of his friend and crush, Audrey (Taylor Swift). Audrey tells Ted that it has always been her dream to see a real live tree. In hopes of winning Audrey’s love, Ted sets out on a journey to find her a real tree.

Ted’s Grammy (Betty White) tells him he must speak to the reclusive, Once-ler (Ed Helms), an old man who knows what happened to all of the trees that once made up the beautiful Truffala Tree Forest. The grumpy Once-ler explains that he is responsible for the forest’s demise. When the Once-ler was a young man, he discovered the beautiful forest and began to cut down the trees so he could use their brightly colored tufts to make and sell Thneeds, a multi-purpose garment. After he begins cutting down trees, the Once-ler meets the Lorax (Danny DeVito), who is the guardian of the forest. The Lorax tells the Once-ler that he “speaks for the trees,” and that he is destroying the forest creatures’ homes, and he must stop. After hearing the Once-ler’s story, Ted resolves not only to bring Audrey a tree, but to rebuild the Truffala Forest.

Potential viewers should be aware that “The Lorax” has a fairly overt environmental and political message, but this is nothing new. Dr. Suess’ environmental allegory has sparked controversy ever since its publication in 1971. The city of Thneed-ville is presented as a caricature of suburban America, and the story touches upon issues such as ecological responsibility, consumerism, and big business. Most of the allegorical elements of Suess’ story will go over most young viewers’ heads, but it is something that parent’s should be aware of when making their decision to view this film. “The Lorax” does not compare to “Despicable Me,” director, Chris Renaud’s animated hit from last year. Unlike “The Lorax,” “Despicable Me” does not have any subtle political messages. It simply tells an entertaining and heartwarming story with a good moral at the end. From a storytelling standpoint, “The Lorax” is certainly not on par with some of the Disney Pixar classics, such as “Up” and “Finding Nemo,” but it is better than many of the movies targeted at children.

Even though “The Lorax” does not reflect an entirely Biblical worldview, it could, however, serve as a starting point for parents to talk to their children about what God expects of us as stewards of the Earth. It raises an important question: What sort of stance should we as Christians take on environmental issues? This movie also touches upon issues of greed and materialism, which could also give parents a wonderful opportunity to talk to their kids about what the Bible has to say about those issues.

EARTH’S ENVIRONMENT—Should Christians be concerned about the environment? Answer

What is man’s responsibility to the environment? Answer

“The Lorax” is refreshingly clean, especially considering that most animated children’s movies these days are marred by off-color potty humor and, in many cases, sexual double entendres. I am happy to report that the filmmakers do not resort to this type of humor. Some content that may be of concern to some parents include: a scene where Ted imagines that he finds a tree for Audrey’s birthday, and she gives him a brief kiss of gratitude in front of all her party guests (the imaginary kiss is very short and innocent). There is a bit of slapstick violence throughout the movie. Two of the characters mistake the little bears, who reside in the forest, for footballs, and they throw them back and forth a couple times. The portrayal of the desolate and treeless forest is a bit dark and gloomy. Also, a few of the animated characters are briefly shown playing outside in bathing suits (a few of those bathing suits are bikinis).

Director, Chris Renaud’s, film is aesthetically stunning, and it is also showcases some of the best animated 3D that I have seen (and I am not normally a fan of 3D)—though this film does not need to be viewed in 3D for one to appreciate the vivid animation. Young children will enjoy the bright and colorful scenes, the cute animal characters, the adorable singing fish, and the lively choreography that accompanies many of the film’s musical numbers. The vibrant animation and charming characters are some of the best aspects of this movie.

Outside of the film’s environmental message, you are left with a clean movie, especially by today’s standards, with cute characters that are brought to life in a beautifully animated movie. Though “The Lorax” is not perfect, it does have some good conversation starters on topics, such as greed and materialism. Overall, it is an entertaining movie, and is certainly one of the better choices out there for families.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I loved “Dr Seuss” the Lorax.” It was a great movie. The acting was top notch. The musical numbers were pretty cool. I loved every aspect of this film from start to finish. I knew, from seeing Despicable Me, that I was going to like “Dr Seuss” The Lorax,” and my suspicions were right. The film was surprising clean, too. Sure there were some objectionable moments, but not too many as I recall. I recommend this film to anyone who was a fan of “Despicable Me.” Good job Hollywood!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Alexander Malsan, age 21 (USA)
Positive—Just a warning to parents—My movie theater showed a trailer to “ParaNorman” which totally freaked out my kids—1st and 3rd grade. Especially my 1st grader who only watched a second of it before covering her eyes for the remainder. The image stuck in her mind and came back to her when it was time to go to bed. She was crying that she couldn’t stop thinking about it. And this is unusual for my daughter. And I know the movie is rated PG, but they are marketing this film to first graders—her teacher read the book to the class the week of the opening and they made the trees as a craft. I think the movie was fine for her to watch, but the trailer was not!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jessica Simpson, age 42 (USA)
Positive—Dr. Suess’s The Lorax is a great film. While the message may not be as heartfelt as “Horton Hears A Who,” its message is just as important. It’s a message about stewarding the Earth and why that is important. It’s a message about how greed can corrupt you and those around you. It’s a message that has great application for anyone. Above all, the story is one of hope, if we change our ways and do the right thing, blessings will come our way.

Points of concern: The Lorax is a magical creature who appears from the stump of a chopped down tree. There is some very minor violence in the film that should be noted, but it’s more comical than anything. The movie is appropriate for all ages.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Jacob Airey, age 23 (USA)
Positive—I took my six year old daughter to see this, fully expecting to have to endure 80 minutes of eco-babble. I was pleasantly surprised that it was not as bad as I expected. While it does push environmentalism, it doesn’t do so in an outright, obnoxious or radical fashion. As a Christian, I am frequently annoyed by Christian and conservative response to environmentalism, as we are clearly called to be good stewards of the world that God has given us. Having read some of the bad hype on-line, I expected far worse. The movie depicts what happens when we don’t hold people accountable for treating our planet poorly. We should be at the forefront of the conservation movement. That doesn’t mean being radical but following commonsense things like replanting after harvesting wood.

That was probably the one aspect of the movie (and book) that bothered me. Trees are a renewable natural resource that can be harvested, if they are replanted. Cutting trees down was criticized by the Lorax, but he offered no alternative (although the Once-ler demonstrated one alternative briefly, before his greed and desire to please his family took over).

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My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Kevin, age 43 (USA)
Positive—“The Lorax” is a fun family movie! It is entertaining for both kids and adults and didn’t have any rude humor. I showed it for a middle/high school youth group movie night, and it was a hit! I used comparisons from the movie for a salvation message. I compared the beautiful forest that was destroyed to God’s perfect world that is now cursed because of sin. And the Lorax’s UNLESS solution for the forest, to the salvation that comes through faith in Jesus sacrificial death and resurrection. If anyone is interested in this comparison, you can read my article about it at: / Great movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Emma, age 23 (USA)
Positive—This movie was awesome!!! I saw something that hasn’t been seen in a LONG time: teaching someone a lesson in life without using powers or intimidation, that’s what the lorax did. Plus, he also teaches people to care and speak for those who can’t speak for themselves and whom the majority of people could care less about or have no ambition to ACT, even when they care, but just GO with the FLOW and stay quiet. Amazing movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Diana, age 31 (Cote d'Ivoire)
Neutral—My 4 kids were so excited about this movie, we took them to see it without reviewing it, since we liked “Horton hears a Who” so much. “The Lorax” had great vivid animation, which the whole family enjoyed. It’s so sad when moviemakers have to add those agendas, though. It would have been a “keeper,” rather than a one time viewing for us, if it hadn’t been for those two agendas. The first was probably from the global warming folks, and the second was probably from the folks on the left, bashing capitalism and free enterprise. We will be talking to our kids about good stewardship, greed and conservation, as a result.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Sue, age 45 (USA)
Neutral—I enjoy most family movies and animated movies, but this one just did not do much for me. The animation was beautifully done, and it deserves the “better than average” moral rating, for which I am grateful, but this is strictly a children’s movie (although perhaps a bit dark, at times, for small children). There is not enough humor or plot to grab and hold adults and teenagers, and there is so much singing and dancing, that it borders on annoying (I wasn’t expecting a musical).

Weaving another plot line into the original Dr Suess story was a good start, but perhaps it didn’t go far enough. Either take children to “The Lorax” or wait till it comes out on DVD.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Rick, age 47 (USA)
Neutral—I found the movie to be of good quality. My daughters and I took my granddaughter (5). I have to agree with other neutral opinions of it. I agree about the 2 agendas. It did not truthfully show that the lumber industry is really diligent in replacing the trees that they cut down. The LORD calls us to be good stewards of the Earth, yet to not put wildlife above human.

I have to wonder in regard to Exodus 23:29—“I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you.”

It would be nice to see a family with a dad, too, and perhaps more children in a family. So many promote a single parent family and with few children. I thought the grandmother was a cute character, as she reminded me of my late mil who also was a lot sharper than she would let you know!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Vickie, age 60 (USA)
Neutral—I saw this movie with my brother and his 7 year old daughter. I have to agree with the review, which criticized the trailers before the movie—we commented on that also. There were some we thought were inappropriate for the younger kids present. The movie, itself, was just “OKAY”. I love Dr. Seuss, in general, so I wanted to like it, but it seemed boring to me and heavy on the message that we are selfishly destroying the environment for very frivolous reasons. The animation was good and the colors and were classic Dr. Seuss. The story was thin, and the music wasn’t great, in my opinion. This won’t be one of those you would want to get on DVD to watch again. I wasn’t offended by the lorax being the spirit of the forest, as he really didn’t do anything magical, beyond trying to persuade Ted to do the right thing—more of a Jimminy Cricket conscience type of character.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Luke, age 50 (USA)
Neutral—I have watched “The Lorax” by Universal Studios in full many times and was impressed with the wholesomeness and cleanness of the movie. As I watched it with the kids for the 10th time, I was disturbed to realize that this seemingly wholesome movie had snuck in a few choice words. The first incident… When the Once-ler is trying to sell his thneed in the town square, and the little girl takes his guitar, there is a reference to his private parts. The second incident happens as Ted is avoiding Mr. O’Hare by getting on the elevator. … The O’Hare founder is exasperated and says “damn it”. Wow… Even though we need to protect our environment, so that future generations will have natural resources, we also need to protect our children from undue influences that will also impact our futures with the moral fiber that our children will have in the future. Bad language disdain: I can not show this in my classroom at school or have kids’ night and show this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Priscilla, age 35 (USA)
Neutral—I saw this movie in theaters and received it recently as a birthday gift. Watching it over again, I did notice things I don’t agree with. One: The two men who were trying to sell bottled air to Mr. O”hare had many homosexual tones to it. Most obvious was them sharing a large beverage, each having their own straw in the bowl/cup, as the stared kindly at each other right before Mr. O”hare’s workers ran into them. Two: Although, Audrey’s check kiss to Ted was a better alternative, especially for a child’s movie, it was unnecessary. I nice hug and smile would have done the trick, as well. Don’t get me wrong, “The Lorax” has a good final lesson—that when people stand up for things they believe in, things happen. It’s good to be ourselves and stand up for what is right. Mr. Once-ler even showed us that he held guilt for his actions and made it better.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Megan, age 19 (USA)
Negative—I am troubled that this movie is going to be placed in the minds of thousands of children. The way the “green” environment anthem is placed in this movie, I thought it would have been written by Al Gore, and produced by the Obama administration. It sends a message to kids that progress is bad, and business is evil, instead of teaching them that we are to be good stewards of this planet. I am all for cute stories to teach children the things they should know when it comes to the environment, but this movie shoved the false belief in the government’s green environmental mind controls down our throats…

Now, this generation will have a thought planted by the government that business is bad, and that we should all hug a tree. Pathetic to say the least!!! I would not recommend this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Stagerlee B., age 33 (USA)
Negative—My family and I saw this movie last night and noticed three things that immediately jumped out:

1. The Lorax character played a “tree god” that appeared from the heavens to save the trees—seemed to be in lieu of the God of the Universe.

2. The “Once-Ler” character’s immediate family was portrayed with a “Texas” accent and appeared to be mimicking an ignorant Midwest white family that has absolutely no regard for the environment—offensive, if you happen to be from that region.

3. Too political for me and the family, with respect to trying to portray how bad “big business” is and how morally superior the green movement is.

Not sure how we could live if we don’t utilize trees for building structures, such as the houses all of us live in, including the environmentalists. In conclusion, I had to spend some time on the ride home explaining that there is a good balance between utilizing resources that God gave us on Earth and ensuring that we need to be careful to replenish these resources, at the same time.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Michael Crivello, age 42 (USA)
Negative—From the trailers, didn’t realize that the movie would be somewhat of a musical. Didn’t care for most of the songs sung by the characters, especially the rock-themed songs by the “Once-ler” character (one being a bit too over-the-top, maybe even scary for younger kids). The Once-ler’s family was VERY negative, and mean… very mean. And nowhere in the book does it show that or does it say anything about the boy’s family (the character voiced by Zac Efron), so why was the decision made to have only a mother (this happens too much in the film industry) no father. Being Catholic, I didn’t appreciate that there was a nun thrown in the mix of CRAZED people… totally unnecessary and odd to say the least! Left the theater feeling as though we WASTED our money AND our time.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—M.D., age 45 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—“The Lorax” was a really good movie. The only objectionable content was that Lorax was a god. It teaches kids that we need to protect the environment. I personally thought it was a cute movie and is a must see.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Sarah, age 10 (USA)
Positive—“The Lorax” is entertaining, educational and enlightening. The creators of this movie take Dr. Seuss’s book, The Lorax and transform it into a magnificent movie. This movie is about a boy named Ted who is in search of a real tree to fulfill his friend, Audrey’s greatest wish to see a real tree since his town is all electronic. In his journey, he meets the Once-ler, a greedy old man who knows about the trees. The Once-ler tells him about the Lorax, a mystical creature who proclaimed himself as the speaker for the trees. The Lorax is an orange, furry creature with a huge mustache that spreads from cheek to cheek.

I liked most of the movie, except that there isn’t much action… The animation is great, and the movie has vivid colors and modern plot elements. I loved the cute, brightly colored animated creatures, such as the Humming Fish, Brown Bar-ba-loots, Swomee Swans, and the Lorax.

The moral of the movie is to take a stand for nature. Another lesson that I learned was one person can make a difference. Ted convinces all the people of Thneed-ville that they should change the way they live. Together, everyone can change the world. This magnificent movie is great for the family to watch. I think kids 4 and up can watch “The Lorax.” This movie will convince kids to beautify and conserve their environment and celebrate the Lorax’s message, which is: Stand up for the Earth.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jeremy Hsiao, age 9 (USA)
Positive—Just bought The Lorax and it’s REALLY GOOD!!! LOVE IT!!! I LOVE the environmental message! We should be taking care of the Earth, but we destroyed it… Good film to teach about taking care of the Earth… Other great film like this is “Wall-e”… This is one of my favourite movies this year, next to “Brave” and “Ice Age 4”.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Andre, age 16 (Canada)
Positive—The Lorax movie was awesome and very enjoyable with friends and family! I like how it starts in the beginning; it’s very calm, with a very good type of an introduction. Then it starts to get exciting, with more adventures and mystery of this movie. Talks about trees, life, and more! The movie has a good sense of humor within me. It felt just… awesome!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Eve, age 12 (Fiji)
Neutral—My family watched “The Lorax” last week. It was entertaining for my brother (6) and my little sister (age 4), however I (11) got bored in the middle. I also didn’t like the catchy song sung by the Once-ler, called “How Bad Can I Be?”, which starts like this: “How ba-a -ad can I be? I’m just doing what comes naturally. How ba- a- ad can I be? I’m just following my destiny.” (My mum says that anything that comes naturally is always someones selfish desire.) And the song gets creepy when he starts singing “Who cares if a few trees are dying!” My mum was also shocked when she heard my four year old sister singing it; I had trouble stopping the habit of humming it.

However, on a positive note, it had a happy ending in which all the animals come back. Bottom-line: “The Lorax” is not a bad movie, I would just recommend you discuss the song “How Bad Can I Be?” with your kids, and tell them why not to sing it. I also think that the film suits a younger audience.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Hannah, age 11 (Australia)

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