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The Lorax

With a strong message about the dangers of Greed, The Lorax is a fun, funny film with a big heart and a powerful, timely message. Not the best of the Seuss films, but definitely worth seeing.

Click to visit The Lorax on IMDB!The latest Dr. Seuss book to become an animated film, The Lorax is much more than pro-environment tale. Though the environment is the film’s obvious focus, its message is a deeper morality tale of the dangers of Greed, no matter what you desire.

Both Ted and the Once-ler initially pursue the Truffula trees for thoroughly selfish reasons: Ted because he wants to earn Audrey’s love and the Once-ler so he can earn fame and fortune with his Thneed. (Though interestingly, it appears that he wants fame and fortune to earn his family’s love.)

An excellent observation: Greed is about trying to fill some void in our souls.

The book never showed the Once-ler's face, and the film held to that in present day, until the end. Ultimately, this gives the film a more hopeful feel.Ted can’t receive the last Truffula seed from the Once-ler until he hears the Once-ler’s tragic tale, showcasing the ugly reality of Greed.

In a musical montage, the Once-ler sings "How Bad Can I Be," essentially celebrating his Greed. The song describes the world as "survival of the fittest," arguing that nothing he’s doing is illegal, so it must be okay. That he’s "just doing what comes naturally."

The Lorax‘s presentation of Greed eerily parallels Gordon Gekko’s infamous "Greed is Good" speech from Wall Street: Greed is a natural human impulse and therefore inherently good.

The beauty of the unspoiled Truffula Forest, before the arrival of the Once-ler.The film demonstrates visually the absurdity of this claim. Greed unchecked reduces nature to a "resource" to be consumed without consideration for sustainability. Beauty becomes a commodity: the innate natural beauty of the Truffula tree is replaced by briefly trendy, idiotic, manufactured clothing item – the Thneed.

What's left after the Once-ler kills every last Truffula tree and runs off all the wildlife.And once all the trees are gone and the once lush and beautiful forest is reduced to a foul, smoking wasteland (with a none-to-subtle nod to the recent BP travesty). Rather than face such an ugly reality, the citizens of Thneedville  live behind a wall, buying fresh air (ala Spaceballs) and inhabiting a world made of plastic and artificial sunlight.

It’s hard not to see ourselves reflected in the Thneedvillains:

Lorax-CommercialWe heedlessly consume resources at an unsustainable pace, live in mostly-manufactured cities detached from nature and remain blissfully unaware of the consequences our standard of living have on the larger world.

The Once-ler comes face-to-face with the consequences of his decision when he loses his fortune. Once he has everything, the Lorax asks him:

Is it enough? Did you fill that hole you have in yourself? Or do you still need more?

Ted and Audrey marvel at the beauty of nature.Of course the answer is No. That’s the problem with Greed. It’s never enough. We weren’t made to be filled by stuff. Both the Once-ler and, through his story, Ted, realize they need something nearly ineffable. Audrey had already figured it out: Beauty for beauty’s sake. The power and majesty of the natural world.

The film doesn’t go this far but I will: God created nature to point us back to God.

The natural world is a gift and we have been called to steward it, not exploit it (Genesis 1:28). Christians shouldn’t need a Dr. Seuss book or film to remind us of that.

The famous ending of the The Lorax is just slightly less ambiguously hopeful in the film. Will you be the one who cares enough to change things?The Lorax is a commentary on our culture. On our abuse of the natural world and the consequences of maintaining our unsustainable rate of consumption. And the film’s right…

Unless someone cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

Bottom Line: A fun, funny film with a big heart and a powerful, timely message. Not the best of the Seuss films, but definitely worth seeing!

YOUR TURN: Did you enjoy The Lorax? What did you think of it’s message?

By JR. Forasteros

JR. lives in Dallas, TX with his wife Amanda. In addition to exploring the wonders that are the Lone Star state, JR. is the teaching pastor at Catalyst Community Church, a writer and blogger. His book, Empathy for the Devil, is available from InterVarsity Press. He's haunted by the Batman, who is in turn haunted by the myth of redemptive violence.