Ted (Zac Effron) lives in Thneedville, a city that no one leaves. Bottled air is sold throughout the city to combat the pollution. Ted is hoping to gain the affection of Audrey (Taylor Swift). All she wants is a living tree instead of the technological ones. Ted decides this is his one opportunity. His crazy grandma (Betty White) tells him about the Once-ler (Ed Helms), a man who knows how to get a tree.
The boy sneaks out of the city and goes to find the Once-ler. Outside the Thneedville is a wasteland. There are no plants left. Ted finds the Once-ler’s house and cautiously rings the doorbell. The Once-ler starts the tale of how when he was young he was looking to make a name for himself, to prove to his family that he wasn’t worthless. He was looking to make a Thneed. He comes across the Truffula tree, whose “leaves” would be perfect.
Halfway through the story, the Once-ler tells Ted to come back tomorrow for the end of the story. Reluctantly, Ted leaves. The greedy Mayor O’Hare (Rob Riggle) – and founder of O’Hare Air – finds out that Ted snuck out of Thneedville and “encourages” him to forget his quest. Ted, ignoring Mr. O’Hare’s request, sneaks out again the next day.
The Once-ler tells Ted how he cut down a tree to get the tree’s leaves. The Lorax (Danny DeVito), a mythical creature who “speaks for the trees” appears. The Lorax begs the Once-ler to not cut down any more trees. The Once-ler agrees and continues making his Thneeds. When the Thneeds start to really sell, he calls his family in to help him with production. They persuade him to chop down all the trees to speed up collection. His greed forces him to go along with the family. The only thing that stops his production is when the last tree is cut down.
If Ted were to bring a live Truffula tree back into the city, it would jeopardize the mayor’s stranglehold on Thneedville, and thus, his fortune. Mayor O’Hare will stop at nothing to protect his fortune.
I’ve never read The Lorax. Something tells me that to sell the movie in this more modern age, some very creative liberties were taken. I’m guessing the gist of the message is the same, it’s just not told as Seussian. For starters, it doesn’t rhyme as much as I expected.
I had heard back when the movie was released that it was very preachy in terms of environmental issues. This meant that I would probably agree with most of it. Not that I’m an extremist tree-hugger, or anything. But I do believe in taking care of our environment. I recycle everything and disturb as little as possible. So maybe I’m a bit biased when I say I didn’t find it preachy at all. I was reminded of a similar message about mass-consumption that was told to kids in Wall-E. It presented a good message in a tidy little package that kids can digest. It speaks to them on their level.
It’s a cute film with a message. A message that you can’t avoid in the movie, but it doesn’t become obnoxious. My biggest take-away from The Lorax is that I need to read the book. I’m curious how much of the story remained the same.