Don’t Buy the Gluppity-Glupp About The Lorax

by Belinda Munoz on March 7, 2012

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SNIVEL AND SNEER

Has cynicism gotten the best of us?

Or perhaps it’s hipsterism gone awry that is to blame.

I’m referring to the poor reviews the movie version of Dr. Seuss’s classic The Lorax, directed by Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda, written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, has garnered since it was released recently.

The New York Times refers to the film as “…a noisy, useless piece of junk…” and “…loud and hysterical”.

NPR says, ” the movie is broad and raucous and rather campy, and the songs, among them an ironic celebration of capitalism, barely pass muster”.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune posits this, “for a message film about conservation, the bulk of the movie is inert filler.”

THUMBS WHAT?

Critics who dole out negative reviews would rather show off their clever, linguistic chops than elucidate the readers as to why every parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle who has a school-age child, grandchild, niece or nephew might want to hit the theaters and don those 3D shades. Is it because they secretly know that what they do is parasitic in nature and it’s incumbent upon them to create an aura of credibility around their work any way they can? Does putting someone else’s work down bring their status up on the food chain? Isn’t it just a little suspect that critics dealing in the print and radio business have so much to say about filmmaking?

I can only hope that artists, creators and doers will continue to forge ahead on their often solitary path while keeping in mind what Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”

EIGHT REASONS TO SEE THE LORAX

Anyway, back to The Lorax. Here’s why I think the film is worth seeing:

To feel hopeful. This movie will make you feel hopeful because despite all the schloppity-schlopp we continue to tolerate in the media, despite the loud, clanging voice of climate deniers, somebody bothered to deliver Dr. Seuss’s message of environmental stewardship in a format that engages modern children. Isn’t this a message we can all, at the very least, appreciate passing on to our children and their children?

To share a magical experience with a child. The songs are sweet, the colors are vivid and the children will be captivated to watch one of their beloved books come to life.

To dare to imagine. Many critics point their thumbs down at the additional characters introduced in the film that are clearly not part of Dr. Seuss’s original work. But is it so bad to improvise and embellish a work of art that is largely based on imagination? A film is obviously a different medium compared to a book and the book version will remain a book, undiluted and untouched. If we’re at a point where we look down on imagination under the guise of “preserving a classic” or for any other reason, then perhaps it’s time to inhale the scent of the Truffula tufts.

To remember that actions have consequences. In the film as in the book, the Once-ler chops down all the Truffula trees until there is nothing left to chop. What follows is a mass exodus of the Once-ler’s family, the Brown Bar-ba-loots and the Lorax himself. We feel a deep feeling of isolation that descends upon the Once-ler as these dwellers move on in search of a friendlier environment.

To compel us to make good on our promises. The Lorax gives the Once-ler a second chance despite his obvious money-grubbing ambitions when he first arrives in the land of the Truffula trees. The Once-ler makes a prototype of his invention called a Thneed, a product that functions as a shirt, a hat, a sock, a glove, etc. When the orders pour in at lightning speed, the Once-ler breaks his promise and devastates the town with smog and gluppity-glupp until the very last Truffula tree is chopped down.

To see the colors and the grays and to stop looking for black and white purist motives among those who are doing something good. The boy, who in the book is unnamed but in the movie is called Ted, receives the last Truffula seed from the Once-ler after a few visits from his town, the walled-in Thneedville. His determination to plant a tree is fueled not by an overwhelming desire to green Thneedville but rather to win over the affection of a girl named Audrey. The end result of successfully re-planting Truffula trees from the very last seed trumps any questionable, hormonally-driven motives that may have inspired Ted.

To acknowledge what we are and what we pretend to be. Let’s not pretend we don’t live in a capitalistic society. There is much profiteering going on no matter how much a book, a song or a story condemns buying and selling. And any critic or viewer that points out the cross-promotional opportunism around this film is missing the point of the story.

To stop neglecting our role in protecting our environment. Those of us who are fortunate to live in homes know what to do to keep our household running smoothly. We hire cleaners, gardeners, plumbers, etc. to help with necessary upkeep. Why, then, would we not do all that we can to keep the earth healthy, clean and cared for properly? Those who insist on politicizing environmental concerns may be forgetting that, at the moment, science and technology have not yet enabled us to move to an alternate planet if and when we reach the point when the earth has finally had enough of us. To quote the famous line from the story, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Whichever way the tree leans, this film is appropriate and great fun for children even if their chaperones might snivel at the preposterousness of inhaling bottled air or sneer at Ted’s snowboarding grandma.

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What good movies have you seen lately?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anisi from Santa Fe March 7, 2012 at 11:49 am

Thank you Belinda! I never go see children’s movies but I think I will bring my niece to see this one if she hasn’t already. And a big I AGREE about critics. Sounds like they’re wrong again about this one.

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2 Talon March 7, 2012 at 4:20 pm

I have to admit that I ignore reviews and prefer to make up my own mind once I’ve seen or read something. Certainly there has to be some value in a film about the necessity to care for the planet and all the flora and fauna that sustain our life…seems we overlook that too often. And I don’t think it’s ever too early for children to learn about the environment and the role they play in it.

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3 ayala March 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Thank you, Belinda…I plan to take Daniel to see it 🙂

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4 Sara March 8, 2012 at 9:00 am

Belinda,

I haven’t seen this film yet, but given it’s Dr. Seuss…how I could I miss it? I used to love reading these books to my kids. The tongue twisting words and fun characters all played with my imagination, as much as they did with my girl’s imaginations!

As a lover of movies, but especially those with hopeful messages and happy endings, I’ve found you can’t rely on critics or even Rotten Tomatoes. I’ve seen movies I’ve loved that got very low ratings and movies I hated with high ratings. I’ve learned what I like and make my choices based on that, not the critics.

A movie you might like, even though it kind of goes against what I just said above, is “The Whistleblower.” It’s a 2010 movie, but it definitely made me stop and think. It’s supposedly based on a true story and a scary one!

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5 Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri March 12, 2012 at 12:12 pm

We plan on taking our daughter to see this movie. We are all fans of Dr. Seuss.
Critics don’t always get it right and I agree that sometimes they just want to exercise their own linguistic chops.

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6 Madeleine Begun Kane March 12, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Thanks for your interesting review and perspective!

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7 Jack@TheJackB March 14, 2012 at 1:09 am

The Lorax is my favorite Dr. Seuss story- can’t imagine not seeing it.

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