Subscribe to The Horn Book

I speak for…

…Dr. Seuss. Well, someone has to, because Illumination Entertainment and Universal Studios, creators of the new movie The Lorax (March 2012; PG), certainly don’t. The basic elements of Dr. Seuss’s classic tale remain: there’s a Lorax, for example, and sure, he speaks for the trees. The Once-ler is there, and he did cut down truffula trees for ubiquitous “thneeds” long ago. And eventually, as in the 1971 book, the Once-ler intones, “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Yet somehow, these few pieces fail to add up to anything resembling the sum of their parts in the book. Instead of greed, the Once-ler is motivated by the wish to please his difficult mother. He is remorseful: he plants a seed and, in the final moments, actually hugs the Lorax apologetically and all is forgiven. Protagonist Ted and his gratuitous love interest, Audrey (perhaps the only real nod to Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, and his wife Audrey), must protect the one remaining truffula seed through a series of slapstick-ish capers that borrow the idea from Wall-E, but with none of that film’s subtlety and power.

Even the music is grating. Simplistic and preachy songs with titles such as “Let It Grow” (complete with gospel, hand-clapping refrains) and “I Love Nature” (seriously?) bring the people of Thneed-ville together and even persuade the evil O’Hare, the movie’s new villain, of the seed’s worth. Side note: how is there even dirt to plant the seed? The entire town is made of plastic.

The Lorax film has taken Seuss’s message and “adapted” it beyond recognition to those of us who love the book. Of course, this isn’t news. But it would have been nice if it could have been executed a little, well, better. Will this diluted environmental message (and Ted’s desire to woo Audrey) be what today’s children will think of when they think of The Lorax?



About Rebecca Kirshenbaum

Rebecca Kirshenbaum is a current editorial intern at The Horn Book, Inc.



  1. Huzzah! Yet another example of why it is a good idea to read the book before seeing the movie. Whether “The Lorax” or “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” or even “Harry Potter” my kids have always preferred the book over Hollywood’s movie interpretation. The padding and distortions only detract from the book’s original message in this case.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind