A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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.
Like the book, the movie promotes an environmental message about conservation along with themes of courage and integrity. 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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Language includes "stupid" and "dumb."
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Products & Purchases
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.
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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
To those who consider the book as Dr. Seuss' magnum opus, this adaptation of The Lorax 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.)
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.