Movie review: ‘The Lorax’ puts everyone on the hook

"The Lorax" movie poster

In case your Facebook feeds haven’t notified you yet, Dr.Seuss’ story of “The Lorax” has been released in a full length feature film.

Based on the 1971 illustrated children’s book, the film follows the same basic plot: a harrowing warning against overconsumption and a lack of environmental conscious. It shows its main character Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) living in an artificial town functioning on the principle, “If you bottle it, they will buy it.” Everyone has stopped caring about the consequences of their actions because they are blocked off from the outside world. The town has stopped caring about the birds and the bees and the truffula trees. All have lost their inhibitions except for one person: Ted’s crush, Audrey (voiced by Taylor Swift). It’s after this discovery that Ted makes it his personal mission to find a tree seed and gift it to Audrey. His grandmother (voiced by Betty White) tells him he must go beyond the bounds of the plastic town and speak to the Once-ler (voiced by Ed Helms), a man that saw the town rise and fall and also the man to blame for it all.

Herein lies the key difference between the pastel colored children’s book and the new brightly colored film from the creators of “Despicable Me.” The greed stricken Once-ler, the personification of the evils of industrialization, is portrayed as a human being. This is what makes the movie better. They took the creepy creature-like green lanky arms and made them that of a recluse old man insistent on wearing his working gloves.

“The minute you make the Once-ler a monster, you allow the audience to interpret that the problem is caused by somebody who is different from me, and it ceases to be a story that is about all of us,” Producer Christopher Meledandri said. “And so it takes you off the hook.”

Without the mirror effect, The Lorax (voiced by Danny DeVito) is just a protagonist shaming a faceless monster. Perhaps this approach to a story filled with tragedy and unfortunate truth will resonate more with its young audience. Although “The Lorax” wasn’t released as close to Earth Day (Apr. 22) as one would expect, its message is still a prominent one, with a line that bounces around your thoughts as the Once-ler recites: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”