Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax premieres today. I got an opportunity to attend a preview for Washington, DC area bloggers and journalists last Friday with my 9-year old and 4-year old, both whom liked it and were alert and attentive throughout the entire one and half hour 3D movie experience.
They thoroughly enjoyed the dance and song numbers, in particular, but they also got the message behind the movie which is based on one of the less popular Dr. Seuss books, but one which environmentalists love for its anti-corporate, pro-ecology and environment messages.
I could appreciate it too, actually.
My family and I live in a National Arbor Day Tree City – which means years ago our town became officially recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a place where trees are abundant and protected. We aren’t allowed to do much to disturb our trees and if we have plans to build something that requires trees being moved, we have to go before our town council.
It has been a curse and blessing living among the trees. In the summer, we can have lunch outside in our backyard without fear of overheating because the plentiful 50 feet tall trees that line our yard keep us well shaded. We also get to appreciate the beauty of the changing seasons, especially in the fall when the foliage come in. The robust colors are mesmerizing, especially the leaves of the Japanese maple that sits in our front yard that turn crimson red. It’s a visual treat to see each day in Autumn.
|Taylor Swift voices Audrey|
But, alas, our old town has above ground utility cables and power lines that run through the trees. Thus, during wild thunderstorms and snow storms, our town is inevitably one of those that suffer from a lot of damage, and outages when power lines are cut down by our trees. We can barely plant vegetables or anything else in our yards because the trees shade the sun from shining through.
Despite that, the kids know the importance trees have for our own human life and existence.
In science class, my 9 year old has learned of photosynthesis. They’ve taken field trips to recycling plants and know that we recycle in the home and try to impart wisdom about ecology and the importance of being environmentally friendly. So they get it. Sort of.
The Lorax however, helped them get it even more, and in a different way. Through the power of 3D-CGI (computer graphics interface) animation, Universal Studios and Illumination Entertainment brought to life the decades-old tale of a mythical creature The Lorax (Danny DeVito) who descends down from the heavens to stop an enterprising lad, The Once-ler, from chopping down all the beautiful Tuffula trees that are abundant in a sprawling area he discovers. The Once-ler used the silk-like tufts of the trees to spin and sell his invention, the all-purpose thneed, to residents in a town. After the Once-ler succeeds in growing rich off of selling the thneeds, he eventually uses up the last one. Disappointed in the mess and greedy man he had become, he traps himself in a far away dark fortress to repent for his crime of polluting the town and enabling a corrupt seller of clean air to create a town of Thneedville where everything is plastic and trees are manufactured. Fast forward years when a young resident of the town, Ted (Zac Efron) trying to impress a young girl Audrey (Taylor Swift),ventures to visit the Once-Ler to learn of the history of trees. Ted becomes empowered to return to the town to replant the last Tuffula seed and start things all over again.
Betty White plays Ted’s adorable and cunning Granny Norma who does her part pretending to be inept to help Ted leave the bolted shut down town and visit the Once-ler to get the key to bringing real trees back to the town.
Stringent environmentalists and some critics got up in arms because they didn’t feel Dr. Seuss’s book was done justice and they were upset over the fact that a Mazda SUV was one of the sponsors of the movie – with SUVs being thought of as gas-guzzling anti-environmental as you can get. I won’t get into the the fact that there are more fuel-economic SUVs on the market and SUVs have usefulness in trucking a lot of people around actually lessening the number of people and cars on the road. But they miss the point that the film does have educational value. Also, the story of The Lorax has been determined to be too depressing for kids. I’d think those who criticized the studios for brightening up the tale and Hollywood-izing it would appreciate that it probably needed a little of that to help kids get the message.
This presentation of The Lorax drove home Dr. Seuss’ simple message about the importance of understanding the finiteness of earth’s resources and of valuing the environment over consumerism through memorable song and dance numbers, vibrant likeable characters and an action-packed story line.
No doubt, The Lorax could easily be used as a tool for parents wanting to teach their young children, from pre-school to high school age, the slightly more complex lesson about the significance of supporting practices, policies and laws that protect our natural resources and limit pollution. The film was widely entertaining and instructive at the same time! Not a lot of movies are able to be both, but The Lorax did an excellent job delivering that!
I recommend it!
It’s in theaters today, the 108th birthday of Dr. Seuss who died at the ripe age of 87 back in 1991.
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!
Check out the preview below: