The Lorax

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Lorax Movie Poster Image
Dr. Seuss classic is cute, but watch for product tie-ins.
  • PG
  • 2012
  • 94 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 73 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 89 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 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 & Representations

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

What 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.

User Reviews

Adult Written bystuffing13 March 4, 2012

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 we... Continue reading
Adult Written bybaltimore joe silk March 4, 2012

Junk Food for your Eyes and Ears

This movie is not for children who can't already recognize that attitudes expressed in a film may not be appropriate or representative of real life. But ev... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old May 31, 2013

Great movie, no worry!!

Great family movie, however for children under 6 some moments could be a little scary. I watched this movie with my younger cousin who is 5, and she was slightl... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byminniemousegal March 2, 2012

Great movie...nomatter how old your are!

I saw this movie with one of my friends and we both loved it even though we're teenagers! The movie had great rolemodels,cute graphics and was overall an a... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE LORAX takes place in the town of Thneedville, where 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?

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.)

Talk to your kids 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?

  • How do the characters in The Lorax demonstrate courage and integrity? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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For kids who love Dr. Seuss

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