The Lorax

Let me be honest. I bought The Lorax because there was an edition that came with a fake orange mustache. I thought it was funny, which it was. But when the amusement ended (after wearing it for all of two minutes), I decided that I should probably watch the film. Although I love Dr. Seuss stories- Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas- The Lorax was not one that I was truly familiar with.

In a town called Thneedville, where everything is fake and made from plastic, there lives a young boy named Ted (Zach Efron). Ted will try to find any excuse to be near Audrey (Taylor Swift), the girl of his dreams. So when she tells him that more than anything, she wants to see a real, living Truffula tree, Ted is determined to make her wish come true. The only problem is that he doesn't know where to find one.

While confiding in his grandma (Betty White) about his new mission, she tells him that he must find the Once-ler (Ed Helms). He's the one who knows what happened to the trees. "Far outside of town, where the grass never grows, and the wind smells slow and sour when it blows, and no birds ever sing excepting old crows. That's the place where the Once-ler lives." Without a moment to lose, Ted hops on his motor scooter and makes his way out of town.

When he arrives at the home of the mysterious hermit, Ted discovers that the Once-ler is not very welcoming. Perched several stories up, the Once-ler peeks through boarded-up windows at the nuisance, bellowing questions below. Sending down a hose, with a funnel at the end, he eventually tells Ted what happened to all the Truffula trees.

When the Once-ler was a young, ambitious businessman, he came upon a forest with bright colored Truffula trees as far as the eye could see. The trees had beautiful foliage: "The touch of their tufts was much softer than silk. And they had the sweet smell of fresh butterfly milk." The Once-ler knew that these trees would be the perfect textile for his new invention, the Thneed.

As soon as the Once-ler chopped down a tree, out from the stump appeared a short, fuzzy, orange fellow with a giant, yellow mustache (Danny DeVito). As if in mourning, the little orange creature and the other inhabitants of the forest placed a circle of rocks around the stump. Spotting the axe wielder, he approached the Once-ler. "I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees." He tried to warn the young entrepreneur to leave the trees alone but was simply ignored.

The Once-ler's business started to grow and the Truffula trees were quickly slashed. The Lorax attempted to warn the Once-ler again that everyone needs the trees, but it was no use. The Once-ler's greed was becoming too great; the Thneed industry was getting bigger and bigger and killing more and more trees. The Brown Bar-ba-loots no longer had enough fruit from the Truffula trees to eat, the Swomee-Swans couldn't sing because the air was so polluted, and the Humming-Fishes' water was too contaminated from the Thneed factories to swim. The Lorax had to send all the animals away to find new homes.

Then, when the last Truffula tree was chopped down, the Once-ler was no longer in business. He was left with nothing but a vacant empire of buildings in the middle of a vast, empty and gloomy land. In that moment without another word, the saddened Lorax grabbed his hind end and floated to the sky. In the place where the first Truffula tree was chopped down, "Unless" was written in stone.

So ends the sad and regretful tale of the Once-ler and the extinction of the trees. Ted's story, however, was just beginning. The Once-ler believes that Ted may be the one that can restore the forest. "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not." He drops the last Truffula seed into Ted's hands and charges him with making people care about trees again. It won't be easy, especially since the people of Thneedville have become content with their plastic lives. Can he be the hero for the future of trees? Can he make Audrey's wish to see a real Truffula tree come true?

I thought The Lorax was okay. The original story was expanded to make it feature film length and musical numbers were added to appeal to a younger audience (though they weren't the catchiest tunes). The movie did make me long to plant a sapling and go to the National Arbor Day website to make a donation. It's amazing how a children's book (or even its movie adaptation) can remind us of the importance of having a healthy environment. Even though this movie didn't become one of my favorite animated films, it did make me a little more conscious about my carbon footprint and that makes it worthwhile. The Lorax is available to special order at your local Slackers or you can get it through iTunes here.

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