Mama Mary is the host of the her own blog The Mama Mary Show, a freelance writer, author of Dead Dads Club, a mom to two spunky little girls and an a over-zealous GLEEk.

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Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax – A Timely Classic on Page and Screen

Original book The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

I am the Lorax, I speak for the tree

In 1971, the same year that the grass roots environmental group Greenpeace was established, Ted Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, came out with his message-laden yet endearing book called The Lorax. Under the guise of rhyming schemes, a bright color palette (that was a departure from his previous books) and cutesy characters like Bar-ba-loots and Humming Fish, Dr. Seuss helped open up a generation’s eyes to the severe consequences of not protecting our environment. Deep themes of greed, regret and redemption also played into this thought-provoking children’s book and helped pave the way for the environmental movement that was just about to surge.

Not only was he a clever wordsmith and talented artist, but Ted Geisel was also a passionate activist who wanted to make a difference. And he did. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the very next year, the United States passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.

Now, over forty years later, the messages of The Lorax are still relevant, if not more-so, and the film making team of Christopher Melandandri and Chris Renaud (Despicable Me & Horton Hears A Who), have out done themselves by bringing this Seuss masterpiece to the big screen and reigniting the spark behind its message.

With guidance and supervision from Ted Geisel’s widow, Audrey, The Lorax filmmakers were able to stay true to the imagery and magical quality of the book while also coming up with back, middle and end story lines. The writing team of Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio ingeniously filled in the gaps, creating a perfectly plastic Thneedville filled with happy, clueless locals breathing in manufactured air. They also found a way of explaining how the little boy, named Ted & played by Zac Efron, ended up at the base of the Once-ler’s crooked Lerkim asking about the lifted Lorax.

Movie review of Dr Seuss The Lorax

You won't see the Once-ler. Don't knock on his door. He stays in his Lerkim on top of his store.

 

From the very first flicker film, projected in 3-D, I felt a part of this colorful, fantasy world. And, being a lover of all things Broadway, I almost did a hitch-kick in my chair when no more than five minutes into the movie, the townfolk of Thneedville burst into a musical number that could stand up to the likes of Sondheim and Gershwin.

There was nothing in the trailers or the marketing materials to clue me in to the musical aspect of the movie, and with five musical numbers in the film, I would say it’s a big part of the movie, also one of the most enjoyable. In the press junket interview, we asked the filmmakers about why they incorporated so much music. They explained that since The Lorax is somewhat of a somber tale, “the music felt like a way to deliver that message . . . and keep it entertaining and light so the audience doesn’t turn off.” Big kudos to them because that is precisely how it came across. The music turned the dark & heavy into light and airy, allowing the audience to introspectively think about the message without feeling like we were being beaten over the head.

To round out this fantastically fun film, was the perfectly-cast cast of voices. There could be no one better in the world than Danny DeVito for the role of the curmudgeonly, loveable Lorax, and not just because of the resemblance, though that helps. DeVito’s voice has a certain quality to it that commands attention, gets you to laugh and then keeps you holding on for what’s going to happen next. He’s a genius in his own height, I mean right.

Ed Helms of The Office and Hangover fame, plays both the young and the old Once-ler with a deft balance of sweet and bitter. You want to love him and you want to hate him, all in the same breath, which is a huge testament to his novice voice-over skills. And? He gets to show off his banjo playing skills in this movie. Score!

In order to tell the backstory of how Ted ends up at the base of Once-ler’s home, the filmmakers developed a love interest, aptly named Audrey, who is played by the uber-sweet Taylor Swift. I was disappointed that Taylor didn’t have her own song in the film, but her talking voice is as much like butter as her singing voice so audiences are going to fall in love with her even more, if that’s even possible.

Ted’s rabble-rousing Granny Norma, played to perfection by the spunky Betty White, is a highlight of the film. With her Truffula Tuft hair do and removable dentures, she is a scene stealer to be sure. She also helps save the day by helping Ted sneak out of Thneedville to track down the creepy Once-ler. After the film opens, I won’t be surprised to see a “We Want Ganny Norma to Host Saturday Night Live” Facebook page making headlines.

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax movie

My new favorite comedic character actor is Rob Riggle who plays the greedy, villian O’Hare. You may not recognize his name, yet, as his credits have been mostly supporting roles, like Officer Franklin in The Hangover and Randy in Step Brothers, but this funny guy will be a household name in no time. His character is a bit reminiscent of the stumpy, grumpy Lord Faarquad in Shrek, and represents the evil side of consumerism and capitalism. His hair alone will make you laugh.

This ninety-four minute animated escapade is sure to delight the entire family. There is action, comedy (both for kids and adults), romance, adventure, music and of course, a message. I left the theatre with a kick in my step and a renewed vigilance towards being green.

 

I give this film 4 ½  out of 5 fist pumps!

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Side note: Though the film is mild and very kid-friendly, it received a PG rating, probably because the chase scenes with O’Hare’s thugs are a bit intense, as is the messaging, but overall, it’s a fun, family-friendly film.

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GIVE-AWAY ALERT!

The awesome folks at Universal have given us a Lorax prize-pack to giveaway to one luck winner. To enter, please leave a comment telling me one way that you and your family stay green. Contest ends on Wednesday, February 29th at 11:59 pm PST. Winner will be announced on Thursday, March 1st.

Prize-Pack includes:

  • $50 Fandango Gift Card
  • T-shirt
  • Water Bottle
  • Lunch Bag
  • Seedling
  • Activity Sheet
  • Truffula Tree Pencils

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Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax opens in theaters on Friday, March 2nd. Here’s a sneak peek.

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Disclosure: I received a complimentary stay at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, a Superbowl party and a free lunch at the press junket in exchange for this post. All opinions are mine, though Danny DeVito was very intimidating in his interview. Just Kidding. More on Danny later this week. Stay tuned.

WINNER!

Congratulations to our giveaway winner, Lauri!  This contest is now closed.

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  7. Kristen M. 03/01/2012 at 12:47 am

    We support local, sustainable agriculture by shopping the farmers market and subscribing to an organic farm CSA. We also garden at home, compost our food waste, and recycle.

  8. Sisifo 03/01/2012 at 12:18 am

    We made bags out of our old t-shirts so we don’t use the plastic ones at the grocery store! Also, we buy local eggs and take our empty cartons with us and give them back so they can be re-used.
    When wrapping presents, we try to use newspaper or some other kind of paper around the house (junk mail, etc.) My kids get to color and decorate it so it’s a bit more personalized as well.

  9. Charity S 02/29/2012 at 11:19 pm

    We only use natural products in our home.

  10. Maria Vojnovic 02/29/2012 at 10:22 pm

    At home,
    I recycle all paper, glass, plastic & use energy efficient light bulbs to name a few of the basics.

    At work,
    I have started a recycling program for all of our documents. The program itself actually costs us money but since it’s good for the environment, we do it!

  11. Strange Animals 02/28/2012 at 6:51 am

    Hi there, many thanks for the article. I disagree with your views in part, but overall, although overall I believe you’ve made some valid points. I shall read more if you make the decision to speak further on the topic.

  12. Mattie 02/28/2012 at 12:15 am

    We put anything that can be recycled in the recycling can. I use reusable grocery bags (which are tons better than the other kinds.) We love to go camping and we always pack our trash out.

  13. Jen 02/27/2012 at 10:15 pm

    We recycle and try to re-purpose as much as possible!

  14. Nancy Schmieder 02/26/2012 at 7:38 pm

    We recycle, use reusable bags when shopping, cook from bulk products, grow some fruit and vegetables, use natural cleaners, utilize hand-me-down clothing and other pre-used items, use cloth diapers, and more! Thank you 🙂

  15. marina 02/26/2012 at 4:07 pm

    Every Sat my Hubs and dottie take the plastic, paper and cardboard to the recycling center.Its amazing how our trash can is now only 1/3rds full at the end of the week!

  16. Heather 02/26/2012 at 1:57 pm

    We use tupperware lunch containers, have a composter, use our cardboard boxes as containers and organizers, draw on the back of paper, make crafts out of plastic containers, and of course, recycle.
    We can’t wait to go see this movie!

  17. Jessica F 02/23/2012 at 9:44 pm

    We always bring reusable bags to the grocery store!

  18. Laura 02/23/2012 at 3:47 pm

    Our community and school are both very active recyclers – and we participate and support both. We also have solar panels – which we love 🙂

  19. Ashley F 02/23/2012 at 1:49 pm

    We recycle, use reusable bags and water bottles, don’t use paper plates, we use eco friedly cleaners, we do hand me downs and we donate what we don’t need.

  20. Anjelica 02/23/2012 at 1:08 pm

    Thank you for your great review, my “earth and animal loving hippie” daughter wants to have her birthday party watching this movie with her friends. As an activist, she stands up for what is right and raises money and awareness for her parties towards charity, and what better way to spread the “love of the earth” message than a Dr. Seuss favorite! Like many families, we have a long way to go before we are perfectly green, but we are trying. Each Earth Day we adopt a new habit in the home to help make the world a little cleaner for our future. This has led to pitching the plastic cups, and only drinking out of stainless steel, glass and mugs. We also much to neighbors’ dismay, refuse to fertilize our yard adding any harsh chemicals where children can play, and we greenly fertilize our plants recycling coffee grounds we brew at home and egg shells. We now use vinegar to clean. We eat organic. We walk to our local parks and concerts, and avoid using the car whenever possible by carpooling too. My daughter is planting her first organic garden this spring, and is even incorporating it into her science fair experiment next year observing whether coffee grounds, egg shells, etc works best at growing healthy, thriving plants. We recycle ink cartridges and cans. We hand down clothing, books and toys to friends who need it most, and donate to Goodwill. We hang laundry to dry on our shower rods. We pick up trash that’s not ours left by littering, and properly dispose of it. My daughter collected money in lieu of gifts last year to donate to a paralyzed dog at the Humane Society. The list goes on with the many small changes we have made, but if everyone made small changes in the world, we would see big change for our future generations. Can’t wait to see how much more this movie will inspire us all to be even better, I know my 8 year old will be budding with new ideas to hug the “green” even tighter. Thank you!

  21. Elena 02/23/2012 at 12:48 pm

    We recycle and take shorter showers

  22. Victoria @obSEUSSed 02/23/2012 at 12:04 pm

    I enjoyed your in-depth review. It is the most real (mom perspective) view I’ve seen. I’m excited about the musical numbers and can’t wait to take my kids to see it. Our family goes green by donating to (and shopping at) thrift stores, recycling paper/plastic and books (donating them) and planting a garden each summer.

  23. Laura 02/23/2012 at 10:42 am

    We recycle like mad. Sam saves the cold water that gets wasted down the drain when waiting for hot water. He then waters our trees with it. Whenever we take a bath in the giant whirlpool tub in the master bath, Sam syphons the water out the window and waters the trees!

  24. Yvonne 02/23/2012 at 10:14 am

    We do a few things: my kids know where we put the recyclable stuff, I try to teach them the importance of not wasting water (very rough concept for a 3 and 5 yo who like to play with water ), we also bring our own bags to the grocery and again I try to teach my kids to turn off the lights when they leave the room to conserve electricity. All small things I guess but we try to do our part.

  25. Soha Molina 02/23/2012 at 12:34 am

    We recycle

  26. SD Deals and Steals Kate 02/23/2012 at 12:26 am

    we bring our own reusable bags to the store, make our own cleaners, buy from bulk bins (saves money AND better for the environment w less packaging!), buy organics as often as budget allows, and use energy efficient appliances. We also like to take advantage of ‘hand me downs’ and offer items on freecycle as often as possible – keep stuff out of the landfill =)

    *crossing fingers* great giveaway!!

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  28. Theresa 02/22/2012 at 4:35 pm

    My kids have learned to put the recycling in the bin. We hang our clothes out on the line, except in winter. Clothing is passed down as much as possible, especially with 7 kids! We compost all of our scraps to the garden as well. If things can be reused, then they are 🙂

  29. Destiny 02/22/2012 at 3:34 pm

    My girls are so excited to see this movie! We go green by walking to school, recycling and making our own home cleaners.

  30. Terumi 02/22/2012 at 11:19 am

    We recycle, try to buy locally where we can and bring bags to the grocery store. Just little things, but we try;)

  31. CoolPlaygroundMommy 02/22/2012 at 10:33 am

    We try to stay green by recycling and turning off lights that aren’t in use.

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  33. Rachael Werth 02/22/2012 at 9:23 am

    We recycle and I buy used clothing for my girls!

  34. Rachael Werth 02/22/2012 at 9:22 am

    We stay green by recycling as much as we possibly can!

  35. Karen Greenberg 02/22/2012 at 7:56 am

    One small way my family stays green is by reusing plastic grocery bags. We use them as trash liners, to pick up after dogs, to pack lunches in a pinch, etc. This way I save money, too!

  36. Lauri fultz 02/22/2012 at 1:24 am

    We walk to and from my sons school, buy organic, use our reusable bags, fill our recycling bin, grow some veggies etc. Most importantly we talk to our kids about how important it is to reduce reuse and recycle.

  37. Ami Jordan 02/22/2012 at 12:54 am

    We recycle, and try to re-use anything possible. I use reusable bags to shop as well.

  38. Becky 02/22/2012 at 12:40 am

    We use the city recycling program, reusable grocery bags and make art projects with repurposed materials.

  39. Patricia Wojnar Crowley 02/21/2012 at 11:45 pm

    We stay green by hanging our clothes out to dry in the summertime!

  40. Janette 02/21/2012 at 10:56 pm

    We take all of our bottles, cans, papers and cardboard boxes to the recycling bins at my daughter’s elementary school.

  41. Jana Sterling Graber 02/21/2012 at 10:45 pm

    We grow our own food and participate in the local CSA.

  42. Ellie A. 02/21/2012 at 10:40 pm

    For us we recycle so we have our bins & try to re purpose items it can get interesting around here that is for sure!

  43. Amber Kemp 02/21/2012 at 10:27 pm

    My family and I stay green by using our reusable grocery bags on our shopping trips, and we also use a Brita water pitcher with reusable water bottles to cut back on our plastic waste. :o) Awesome giveaway-thank you for the chance!

  44. melissa atkinson 02/21/2012 at 2:58 pm

    I cannot wait to take my two-year-old to see this! As far as staying green we recycle just about everything that can be. My recycle bin usually full by the time mid-week rolls around leaving us no room until monday!

  45. Amy Eberhart 02/21/2012 at 2:54 pm

    Can’t wait to see this movie with my boys!!! Oh and we stay green by recycling and growing our own vegetables! We also buy organic meat, fruit and vegetables as much as possible! I also teach my boys to turn off lights and tv’s when done using them.

  46. Vixen 02/21/2012 at 12:32 pm

    Oh I am so looking forward to taking the grands to see this, especially now that I know there is so much music!. We are the recycling power house of our neighborhood. We don’t just toss it in the blue bin, we separate it and turn it in for cash. Saving the planet helped keep me fed when times were tough,lol.

  47. Ali 02/21/2012 at 12:18 pm

    We accept and buy secondhand goods, and offer them to others when we no longer need them (this applies to clothing, furniture, toys, books, EVERYTHING). We are definitely a “Reduce, Re-use, Recycle” family!

  48. Danielle 02/21/2012 at 12:01 pm

    One thing we do to stay green is use green cleaning solutions like vinegar, baking soda and tea tree oil.