The Lorax: A Movie Vs. Book Review

2 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack,

Since The Lorax appeared on Netflix Instant last month, our family has watched it enough times that you now request Mommy and I to sing the Thneedville song as your nightly lullaby.

Needless to say, it is currently our family’s favorite movie!

Granted, The Lorax movie is based on the 1971 Dr. Seuss book.

You should note that when talking about a movie based on a book, the cliche response you’re supposed to give is, “The book was so much better than the movie!”

To be honest, I’m a visual person, so I pretty much always prefer the movie over the book.

Unsurprisingly, I prefer the 2012 movie version of The Lorax over the 1971 book version it is based on. However, my reason isn’t simply because of the impressive 3-D animation. A lot of it is just that I prefer comedy over tragedy…

I had an art professor in college who explained the difference between tragedy and comedy this way:

In a tragedy, the beloved main character is removed or rejected from his society. In a comedy, an outcast is accepted by his society and becomes the beloved main character.

By that definition, the book version of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is a tragedy.

The story ends with the Lorax literally kicking himself out of the city, after the Once-ler and his family cut down all the Truffula trees and all the sick and dying animals are forced to migrate elsewhere.

But in the movie version, the Lorax returns because the Once-ler shares the last Truffula seed with a boy named Ted, who decides to plant it in the middle of the city. Therefore, the movie is a comedy.

If the exact story line of the book version were simply stretched out into a 90 minute format, that would be one dark and depressing kids’ movie.

So instead, the movie version of The Lorax basically serves as the sequel to the book, with the original story line intertwined as a sort of dual plot.

The movie begins a couple of generations after where the book leaves off, with this hilarious over-the-top musical intro; which again, is the lullaby you request each night:


It’s interesting to me that the people of Thneedville are very happy to live in their plastic version of reality, where there are no living trees or plants. The city is essentially owned by a zillionaire named Aloysius O’Hare, who sells them fresh air; which they seem to be grateful for.

Whereas the book was a warning against the depletion of natural resources and the pollution of our environment, the movie focuses more on the bizarre aftermath, which is consumerism based on convenience over what is natural and healthy.

Though it’s probably easily overlooked, I think this is one of the most interesting and subtle lines of the Thneedville song:

“We thank the Lord for all we’ve got, including this brand-new parking lot!”

The people of Thneedville are dependent on resources which are manufactured and processed, while they seem oblivious to and far-removed from the natural resources that God provided for them in the first place… which are actually located outside of their city, like plants that produce fresh air.

That’s not to say parking lots are evil, but the movie is clearly a parable of modern day America; especially in regards to not questioning where our products come from.

To think, there are now clever mainstream food brands like Chobani and Annie’s Homegrown which are making it clear to the consumer on their labeling that their products contain only natural ingredients; no artificial colors or flavors derived from animal bi-products or petroleum. Little Remedies is the same way with their children’s medicine.

It’s a mix between sad and funny that it’s so normal for me to expect products to be fake now, unless otherwise labeled so.

I feel that ultimately, The Lorax movie challenges viewers to decide for themselves if and how they are being represented as residents of Thneedville.

The movie is not simply about “going green” or saving trees. Its message is focused on returning to a version of life that is based on what is real, natural, and non-toxic.

Thneedville’s citizens had to decide whether to allow the last Truffula seed to be planted or to keep depending on having to buy fresh air.

Turns out, that’s a decision we have to make for ourselves everyday, in some form or another.





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