Story

Dr Seuss’ The Lorax is the animated movie version of the well-loved children’s book written by Dr Seuss in the 1970s. It’s the story of Ted (voiced by Zac Efron), a 12-year-old boy living in the treeless world of Kneedsville. When the girl of his dreams, Audrey (Taylor Swift), wishes for a real tree Ted makes it his mission to find one and win her love. His journey takes him beyond the walls of Kneedsville and into a land that has been badly damaged by the world’s consumerism. No living creatures exist there – except for one. This is the Once-ler (voiced by Ed Helms), who lives in the pollution as a punishment for his early mistakes.

The Once-ler isn’t impressed by Ted’s desire to find a real tree. Instead, the Once-ler tells Ted the story of his youth, his obsession with the Truffala tree and the end of his friendship with the Lorax, the guardian of the forest.

Themes

Environmental disaster; consumerism; some mild cruelty towards children

Violence

This movie has some violence. For example:

  • The Once-ler has a donkey who is upset that the Once-ler is cutting down the trees. The donkey kicks him.
  • There is some verbal violence when the Once-ler’s parents make fun of him. They talk about having favourite children, and they say the Once-ler is useless.
  • When the Lorax interferes with the Once-ler’s plans, the Once-ler threatens to belt the Lorax into the ground.
  • Two big burly bodyguards approach Ted and threaten him if he goes beyond the walls of Kneedsville again.
  • The Lorax is woken unexpectedly by the Once-ler and punches him in the face.
  • The bodyguards chase Ted, Audrey and Ted’s grandmother. The three of them come close to danger, but no-one is hurt.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years, particularly in the 3D version. For example:

  • The scenes beyond the walls of Kneesville are dark, desolate and scary.
  • Ted finds the Once-ler in the bare lands beyond the city. The Once-ler’s house is crooked, dark and scary. Seen through crooked blinds, the Once-ler has yellow eyes and long hairy fingers, which make him scary. Later in the movie he seems less scary than he did at first.
  • The mayor watches Ted through cameras set up around the city. Objects seem to be watching Ted, which can be a little spooky.
  • The Once-ler and a baby animal go down the river rapids on a bed. Suspense is built up throughout the scene, and they almost go over a waterfall and drown. They’re saved at the last minute. 

From 5-8

Most children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above. 

From 8-13

This movie should be OK for this age group. 

Over 13

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

None of concern 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern 

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • An advertisement shows a woman standing provocatively showing her bottom.
  • Audrey and Ted share two brief kisses. 

Product placement

There is no product placement of concern in the movie itself, but there is plenty of associated merchandise on the market. This conflicts with the movie’s anti-consumerist message. 

Coarse language

This movie has some mild coarse language and put-downs that children might imitate. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

This movie version of the classic Dr Seuss story tells us what happens when consumerism and deforestation get out of control – unless people who care take a stand and make a difference. The movie might be rather scary for children under five years, particularly in the 3D version, and might also lack interest for this age group.

The main messages from this movie are about conserving our natural world and the dangers of materialism.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • caring for the natural world we live in
  • standing up for what you believe in
  • anti-consumerism.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about questions such as these:

  • What happened to the Once-ler when he began to get successful? Could he have had a successful business and still looked after the environment? How?
  • The Lorax was the guardian of the forest. Who looks after the forest in our world? Why is it important for people to care about trees and the forest?