Christopher raced to the kitchen once we got home from seeing “The Lorax” Friday afternoon, eager to make a batch of homemade lemonade using lemons from our backyard. James strolled through the kitchen, commenting on the lovely citrus aroma. “Thank the trees,” Christopher told him. Spoken like a true lover of the Lorax.
“The Lorax” was released on Friday, which would have been Theodor Seuss Giesel’s 108th birthday were people inclined to live so long. Many a tree outlived Dr. Seuss, something I suspect would please him very much. Alas — many a plastic outlived him too.
“The Lorax” imagines a perfect world in which Mr. O’Hare sells the people clean air. Even trees are part of the artificial fare. Over dinner one night, a little boy named Ted watches unimpressed as his mother uses the remote control to take the latest model purchased for their backyard through three neon seasons plus a fourth ala disco.
But Ted’s got real trees on the brain, after learning from a girl up the street that it’s the only thing she truly wants for her birthday. Despite his mother’s insistence that real trees are useless, Ted’s Grammy Norma is game — telling him where to begin the search.
Seems there’s a whole other world outside of town. Once filled with trees topped by colorful foliage, it’s now desolate and dark with dirty air. The animals that once called the habitat home are gone, and just a single soul named Once-ler remains.
Once-ler shares the story of the Lorax, whose job it is to speak for the trees. But O’Hare isn’t pleased, and pursues Ted during his quest. If townsfolk remember that trees make air for free, they’ll have no need for his product. Seems there’s a single seed that can repopulate the forest, but O’Hare is out to destroy it.
Unlike movies that treat environmental themes as subtext, “The Lorax” is transparent from the start. We need trees, but trees need us too. Hence the heavy ecology vibe throughout both the film and corollary materials like children’s activities on the movie’s website. Like the Lorax, it’s our job to speak for the trees — for all of nature, really, if we’re to assure both its survival and our own.
Most of “The Lorax” features colors found in plastic aquarium fare, so you’ll find a bit of irony there. But the characters, including a trio of singing fish and a wide-eyed baby bear, are charming. And the music is a delight. As the credits rolled, several kids ran to the front of the theater and started dancing in front of the screen — reaching up to try and touch each feathery tree that flashed above them.
They’re a generation already converted, I suppose, for whom this film is a simple affirmation of faith never questioned. It won’t change many minds among more mature viewers. But at least they’re happy to watch the little ones get up and dance.
Note: Click here to visit Seussville online, here to learn more about “The Lorax” and here to explore the “Do Not Destroy: Trees, Art and Jewish Thought” exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.
Coming up: Get creative!