“Read it!” my daughter emphatically stated as she looked up at me with her big brown eyes, pointing to the colorful new book that sat inside my suitcase. Every time I go on a trip, my children
tear apart peruse through my suitcase, in hopes of finding something fun from my time away. I hadn’t even had a moment to unpack my cosmetic case when they found the book and other goodies I brought back from my time spent covering the soon-to-be released 3D animated film The Lorax.
On March 2nd, which would have been Dr. Seuss’ 108th birthday, Universal Pictures will release the computer animated film, adapted from the book which was released more than 40 years ago. Without fail, my children always reach for a Dr. Seuss book at bedtime, thus you can imagine the excitement and anticipation they’ve been exhibiting as we near the film’s release.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” -The Lorax
The very first time I read the book, I could not stop thinking about how forward thinking Dr. Seuss was. His timeless message about the importance of conservation could not be more relevant, given the current plight of our environment.
The book follows the story of a boy who has traveled to “the far end of town” in hopes that a being called the Once-ler can provide insight on what has happened to the trees. After receiving payment, the Once-ler tells the young boy how he happened upon the forest of Truffula Trees, in all of their beauty. Captivated by these trees, the Once-ler chops one down to knit a “Thneed”, a highly versatile and necessary garment. As soon as the first tree has fallen, The Lorax, an advocate for “the trees,” appears from out of the tree stump. The Once-ler, who cannot see past his own ambition and greed, ignores The Lorax and chops down tree after tree. Bearlike creatures known as Bar-ba-loots are forced to find food outside of the forest, the Swomee Swans are unable to sing because of the smoke that is being emitted from the Once-ler’s factory, and the Humming Fish can no longer hum because their waters are being polluted with a “goo” that is being dumped into the ponds by the machines used to make the “Thneeds.” I remember the first time I read the book, thinking, this is what we’re doing…right now…to our air, water, and wildlife. As the story goes, the Once-ler chops down the very last tree, resulting in the cessation of his “Thneed” business. As the Lorax departs the once Truffula Tree-laden forest, he leaves behind a small pile of rocks inscribed with the words “Unless.” It isn’t until many years later, as the Once-ler is recalling his encounter with the Lorax, that he finally realizes the meaning of that single six letter word. He proceeds to toss the boy the very last Truffula seed, entrusting and empowering him to make a difference…to plant a seed…to grow a forest. The message is profound…
The film, which opens in theaters nationwide on March 2nd, is an inspirational, musical adaptation of this beloved book. To preserve the integrity of Dr. Seuss’ book, the filmmakers/screenwriters decided to explore what might have happened before and after the young boy’s visit with the Once-ler, as opposed to rewriting the story. Filling in these gaps was not an easy feat, as they “[wanted] to stay true to the material and honor it.” The book has such an important legacy and message and it was imperative that the team “find a way to tell the story in a way that [honored] the underlying work Dr. Seuss created.”
Unlike the book, the film expands on the young boys reasons for seeking out the Once-ler. Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) is a 12 year old boy in search of a real Truffula Tree to win the affection of Audrey, his dream girl (voiced by Taylor Swift). He ventures outside of Thneedville, a city which is completely artificial), on a journey to find the Once-ler, who he believes can help him bring home a tree for Audrey. Inspired by the young boy, the Once-ler sheds light on the isolated city of Thneedville. With the last Truffula seed in hand, Ted sets out to inspire his town to take care of “the trees.”
The film, with it’s colorful, immersive 3D world, brings Dr. Seuss’ beloved story of The Lorax to life on the big screen. The filmmakers broach the topic of conservation in a way that is meaningful to adults and children alike. Despite the seriousness and importance of the underlying message, the film is upbeat and lively and I found myself tapping my feet to the musical score.
Many years from now, the message will still be as powerful as it is today. With my own children, I plan to utilize the film as a way to reinforce some of the environmental principles my husband and I have already been instilling within them. I recommend that parents read the book with their children prior to seeing the film so that they have a basic understanding of the story.
The Lorax boasts an incredibly talented cast which includes Danny DeVito (The Lorax), Zac Efron (Ted), Ed Helms (The Once-ler), Taylor Swift (Audrey), Rob Riggle (Mr. O’Hare) and Betty White (Grammy Norma). See it in theaters March 2nd, 2012.
No compensation was received for this post. I was invited to The Lorax Press Junket, courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures