Few students can say they didn’t grow up on a healthy combination of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” “The Cat in the Hat” and “Horton Hears a Who.” Less well known is his pro-environmental classic, “The Lorax,” which premiered on the big screen March 2, Dr. Suess’ birthday. In its opening weekend, the film surpassed all expectations by bringing in $70.7 million —the highest by any 2012 movie so far and the most ever for a Universal animated movie.
The film necessarily presents a twist on the original story since it’s tough to stretch a children’s picture book into a 90-minute motion picture. The movie follows Ted (Zac Efron), a young boy with a crush on the lovely Audrey (Taylor Swift), who wants nothing more than her very own Truffula tree. There’s only one problem — in Thneedville, the fantastical metropolis where “The Lorax” takes place, nothing grows. Even the trees are made of plastic. O’Hare, the villain who runs Thneedville, sells products bordering on the absurd, such as “the Oakomatic,” and even sponsors an ad for bottled air complete with a reminder “to please breathe responsibly.” It’s up to Ted to beat the evil O’Hare and restore the Truffula trees to Thneedville.
The biggest issue with “The Lorax” is it’s a film without a perfect audience. Young children will love it for its colorful animation and straight-forward plot line, but they’ll miss a lot of the satire criticizing our overly consumerist society. Older, more mature viewers will appreciate Seuss’ wit and thought-provoking themes but will cringe at the cheesy plotline and dreadful musical numbers. “The Lorax” aspires to be another “Wall-E” by blending social and environmental commentary with youth appeal, but that’s where the similarities end.
Going into “The Lorax,” I desperately wanted to love the movie. Taking Dr. Seuss’ genius to the cinema seemed like a logical step. But now, I realize my issue with “The Lorax” had more to do with what was missing: it wasn’t the entertaining picture book I remembered from my childhood. Maybe I’ve outgrown the imagination needed to throw myself into a Seuss book. Or maybe, just maybe, “The Lorax” is a story best suited to the reassuring pages of a children’s picture book — the way Seuss intended it.