The Lorax

  • Review Date: March 2, 2012
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2012

Common Sense Media says

Dr. Seuss classic is cute, but watch for product tie-ins.
  • Review Date: March 2, 2012
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2012

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

The Lorax teaches a valuable lesson about the importance of the natural world and protecting natural resources. The idea of "unless" is pivotal to the story -- that Earth will continue to be polluted and destroyed "unless" people like Ted and Audrey stand up for it.

Positive messages

Like the book, the movie promotes an environmental message about conservation. It also suggests the danger of giving into materialistic impulses that can damage the environment. The movie will make kids think about where their stuff comes from, whether having too much stuff is a good thing, and what the consequences of their actions might be. Unfortunately kids may be confused by these positive messages once they realize how many product tie-ins are associated with the movie (see "Consumerism" section).

Positive role models

At first Ted is driven purely by his feelings for Audrey, but then he decides to learn the story of the Lorax and the Truffula trees for himself and to help his entire town; ultimately he turns out to be a brave guy who stands up for what's right. The Once-ler redeems the greedy acts of his past. Audrey and Grandma subvert the conventional idea that having plastic trees -- plastic everything -- is better than real nature. On the negative side, the Once-ler breaks his promise and allows his family to convince him to chop down all the trees to make a profit.

Violence & scariness

The Once-ler employs a huge machine attached to axes to chop down the Truffula trees. At one point, the Once-ler and a baby Barbaloot are floating on a mattress toward a waterfall, but neither is injured. A few characters are hit in the face with various objects (marshmallows, a hammer), but there's no lasting harm.

Sexy stuff

Ted has a crush on Audrey; at the end of the movie, they share a brief kiss. He also imagines kissing her earlier in the film.

Language

Language includes "stupid" and "dumb."

Consumerism

Although the film (and story) itself espouses the same ecologically friendly themes as Dr. Seuss' book, the studio has agreed to more than 70 merchandise tie-ins, from the standard stuffed animals and figurines to the more egregious IHOP pancake platter and Mazda SUV promotions (the latter has included school events in which kids are urged to ask their parents to test-drive the vehicle). Many social critics have slammed the studio for taking Seuss' anti-consumerist message and turning it into an opportunity for the Lorax to promote various products.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss' beloved tale of THE LORAX is age-appropriate for younger kids; there's little scary stuff, and the pro-environmental message is a positive one. The main issue here is really the movie's huge number of consumerist tie-ins -- at least 70 different marketing promotions. For an anti-materialism story to advertise so many products to kids and their parents sends a particularly confusing message. Still, the movie itself -- like the original story -- promotes conservation and protecting the environment. Kids will leave the film wanting to do more to help the natural world ... too bad that take-away will be diluted by the onslaught of available merchandise with the Lorax's bright-orange image on it.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In the town of Thneedville, there are no real trees, or grass, or nature to speak of -- everything is plastic and fake. When young Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) discovers that what his crush, Audrey (Taylor Swift), wants more than anything is to see a real tree, he sets out to find one for her. Advised by his grandmother (Betty White), Ted leaves Thneedville in search of the reclusive Once-ler (Ed Helms), who tells him the story of The Lorax (Danny DeVito). As Ted learns more about the history of the Truffula Trees that the Once-ler chopped down, his life is Thneedville is challenged by the town's bigwig, Mr. O'Hare (Rob Riggle), who profits from the manufactured air that the citizens have been taught to buy and breathe. But if Ted exposes the truth to the people of Thneedville, they'll realize nature isn't the dirty inconvenience they've been taught to believe.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

To those who consider THE LORAX Dr. Seuss' magnum opus, this adaptation will be at least somewhat a relief (unlike the miserable The Cat in the Hat). It's light and sweet and frames the original story in an easy-to-understand plot about a boy who wants to impress his tree-obsessed crush. The star-studded voice cast does a fine job (the main characters are even named after Dr. Seuss -- Theodore Geisel -- and his widow, Audrey), and the songs are all upbeat, if not Randy Newman-memorable. If it weren't an adaptation, The Lorax would make for a fun, message-filled movie with a charming set of characters.

The problem is that passionate lovers of The Lorax will expect more; they'll hope for a movie as timeless and important as Seuss' subversive commentary on the perils of conspicuous consumption and forsaking the environment to benefit the almighty dollar. But the studio has already marred that idea with its constant parading of various Lorax-approved products. Having the Lorax shill for an SUV or themed breakfasts is counter to the spirit of the story -- which, at least in the movie, promotes a return to nature. Kids will surely delight in The Lorax, but teens and parents savvy enough to recognize the irony of big-studio consumerism may wonder whether Dr. Seuss would have approved at all. (If you're looking for another take on the tale, try the excellent 1970s adaptation -- it's shorter, but it doesn't have the pesky tie-ins to worry about.)

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about The Lorax's messages. What does it want viewers to take away from the story? What are some ways that parents and kids can make a difference to the environment?

  • What made kids want to see this movie -- the story or all the product tie-ins? Do kids want a product because The Lorax is on it? How do kids feel about the fact that one of their favorite characters is being used to sell products that might not be good for the Earth?

  • What are your favorite Dr. Seuss stories? Which ones were best translated into movies? Are there any other Dr. Seuss books you'd like to see adapted?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 2, 2012
DVD release date:August 7, 2012
Cast:Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Taylor Swift, Zac Efron
Director:Chris Renaud
Studio:Universal Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Book characters, Science and nature
Run time:94 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:brief mild language

This review of The Lorax was written by

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  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
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  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bystuffing13 March 4, 2012
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

I wish I knew

The movie was cute and not too far out of the realm of the book. However, based on what I read from this site's review, I formed the opinion that there weren't really any scary moments. I chose to take my 4 year old and even though she tells me now that it wasn't scary, there were quite a few moments that she ended up in my lap or covering her eyes; thunder and lightning before the lorax shows up, when the onceler first looks through the window, and some of the intimidation moments from the bottled air guy - I'm sure there were more. Nothing lasted long and everything ends well, but if you have a sensitive child, there may be a moment or two with their face in your shoulder. The SCARIEST part was actually one of the previews for a movie called "ParaNorman". It's a cartoonish movie about a kids who sees dead people. As you can imagine, his dead friends are not all nice looking and the preview was quite scary!

Parent Written bylogicaldad March 3, 2012
AGE
5
QUALITY
 

disapointing.

I just came back from watching this movie with my 5 year old kid. I will have lots of explaining to do. The movie go to an over reach attempt to demonize business man or the use of natural resources. I hope my kid does not feel guilty for sitting on a wooden chair as it's made of the corpse of a murdered tree. This kind of movie as they are highly political and never offer a constructive message as to using the planets resources responsibly (i.e. trees). Message in this movie is that you cut a tree you are a murderer.

What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Parent Written bykoj1 March 3, 2012
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Disappointed!

Disappointing! It was too long, the first half was too slow, and those with an adopted child need to be aware of an insensitive comment on the theme.

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