The Lorax – Living in an entirely artificial and plastic world may seem perfect but it’s not quite enough for Ted who is on a mission to impress Audrey, a girl who is desperate to see a real tree. On his clandestine visits outside the walls of Thneedville, he finds a deserted wasteland and a mysterious stranger in an isolated house who tells a tale of greed and regret. Seeming to be the only hope for the inhabitants of Thneedville to see any form of nature, Ted must figure out how to bring the trees back to the world.

The Lorax (2012) – Director: Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda

Is The Lorax appropriate for kids?

Rating: U

Running Length: 86 mins

Starring: Danny DeVito, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift

Genre: Animated


Based on the prolific children’s author, Dr. Seuss’ story of a mystical creature who protects the natural world and the humans who destroy it with a mixture of greed, insecurity and wilful ignorance, ‘The Lorax’ may be colourful but it sets a tone of darkness with humanity’s need to use any and all resources to the nth degree. In the books, the Once-ler wasn’t given facial features, instead being defined by his green arms and yellow eyes but he is fully formed as an ordinary young man in the movie, highlighting how easy it is for any one of us to fall into the same trap he does. He is desperate to please his family who are only interested in success and money. This unending need for approval drives his ambition to its devastating conclusion and the Lorax quickly becomes overwhelmed by The Once-ler’s deforestation machines showing that words and warnings are rarely enough to curb man’s obsession to succeed.

While it may be fantastical, much of the story is very relatable, especially for kids who will like the cute animals and then be upset by their plight; once this is highlighted, they may even begin to see this being mirrored in the real world, on a much larger scale. Clearly unused to his words going unheeded, The Lorax is at a loss as to what to do when The Once-ler simply refuses to stop production of his Thneed’s which require the beautiful foliage of the Trufulla trees; with the trees becoming rarer, the animals struggle to maintain their lives and are eventually forced to leave. With this being the theme of the movie, there is an undercurrent of helplessness and sadness for a large proportion of the movie and older kids in particular are bound to pick up on it.

While the above comments may portray a negative feel for ‘The Lorax’, it is by no means a bad movie. The bright colours will no doubt attract younger viewers and its unusually strong message of environmentalism isn’t necessarily one to shy away from, however it may be a lot to expect kids to fully understand the tone of melancholy that permeates. Having said that, this is a classic tale, beloved by kids for decades and therefore many going into this movie will know exactly what to expect.


When Ted first leaves Thneedville, he finds a desolate wasteland just outside the walls of the city. Thousands of tree stumps are dotted over the landscape for miles around and the air is heavily polluted, making Ted cough. He finds a lone imposing, crooked house which is inhabited by a mysterious recluse. Ted suddenly finds himself dragged into the air by a mechanised arm which moves very quickly and is shown mostly in extreme close-up. The recluse is a man who lives in the shadows, only his eyes and gloved hands are seen. Much of this could be a frightening for younger kids.

The recluse tells his story of being a young man who turns up in the land which was once a beautiful and rich forest. Upon his arrival, he starts rummaging through his luggage, throwing objects behind him which hit or narrowly miss animals who have gathered around. He chops down a tree which shocks and scares the animals; a sombre vigil is later held for the felled tree which is accompanied by sad music.

The Lorax, a creature whose duty it is to protect the forest, attempts to remove the newcomer by setting his bed adrift on a stream while he sleeps. It then becomes apparent that a little bear is also on the bed and the stream get very choppy as the two float along and some fish hum a funeral march as they drift by.

The man, who goes by the name ‘Once-ler’ has an overbearing family who are completely uninterested in anything but success and money. Once-ler’s mother pushes him to make his thneed invention on a large-scale without a second’s though as to the consequences for the environment. Once-ler doesn’t need much persuasion an begins production immediately. Once-ler’s brothers take great delight in chopping down the trees and use the animals like playthings, one picks up a little bear and throws it high and far as an American football player would throw a ball, the bear is shown to land nicely in a tree and is not harmed.

During his destruction of the forest, the fish are seen to struggle to live as their water begins to be covered in oil and a family of bears look forlornly at what appears to be the last piece of fruit but Once-ler snatches it from them and consumes it despite not needing it as they do. He asks ‘Who cares if a few trees are dying?’ and in a stylised scene, he becomes huge and menacing.


With its bright visuals, cuddly animals and over-the-top style, ‘The Lorax’ is definitely a kids’ film but with a rather harsh message of environmentalism, may cause unexpected upset for some kids. This movie should be appropriate for all ages but some reassurance may be required for those who are sensitive to the suffering of animals.

  • Violence: 1/5 (some cruelty to animals)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (the plight of the animals could be upsetting for kids)
  • Fear Factor: 1/5 (the mayor of Thneedville, Mr O’Hare uses fear and intimidation to keep people in check, he has cameras everywhere and has large, imposing henchmen)
  • Sexual Content: 0/5
  • Bad Language: 0/5
  • Dialogue: 1/5 (someone is called a ‘weirdo’, when chopping down trees, a character gleefully says ‘take that you stupid tree!’)
  • Other Notes: Deals with themes of environmentalism, industrialisation, capitalism, questioning the status quo,  the natural world, greed, regret, ignorance, the consequences of humanity’s need to consume, hope and redemption.

Words by Laura Record

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