Monday, April 23, 2012

NEW PAL FOR KIDS?



Is the LORAX what KIDS need -- not another Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, or a Muppet. but a grandfatherly, orange, fat-tummied hero?

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, (published in 1971), is a big hit movie.

If you haven't seen the film, here's the plot, according to IMDb (International Movie Data Base: "Twelve-year-old boy searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world."


The boy's a gooney, sweet-faced, innocent but handsome kid. She's a prettier, gooney, sweet-faced but sassy, red head.

The girl loves nature and so does the boy, and that brings them together. They see that the forest's getting destroyed by the guy who's the big employer, and the richest guy (the "Once-ler") in town. He's destroying the Truffula trees -- turning them into saleable goods.

No wonder audiences have been flocking to see this movie. It's got environment, jobs, politics, and the selfish rich employer. AND it's selling these issues in TV-commercial style, repeating over and over the idea that nature is being ravaged by industrial greed.

Plus, the movie's got star's voices -- Ted , the boy (Zac Efron); Audrey, the girl, (Taylor Swift); Ted's grammy (Betty White); rich "Once-ler" (Ed Helms), AND the gruff Lorax (Danny DeVito).

No doubt about it -- it's a real-life story. The "Once-ler" was once a young man with a great money-making idea. He's been using the trees for manufacturing "thneeds" (I guess that's threads?) for snuggies. He's built up the local economy and created lots of jobs -- actually -- the Once-ler is a great business man. But, the forest is ruined. The Truffula trees are gone forever unless ... unless ...

Unless the Lorax, who fixes things, can maybe save them. AND the Lorax does. The old ruined forest is restored, made into a new synthetic Threedville, a gorgeous wonderland.

Critics have praised this movie. Parents and kids love it. And the producers are raking in the money. LORAX T-shirts, toys and CD's have been selling like hot cakes.

But ... Well ... It makes me sad. We are feeding our youngest generation comic book cartoon-concepts of -- well -- just about everything.

I keep thinking of Olive Beaupre Miller's books, that my oldest sister had in her attic room.


Six precious books ...

"No no, Emily, you mustn't touch."

I could only "read" on special occasions when my sister was there, making sure I wasn't going to wrinkle or dog-ear any pages.

The pages, and pages of illustrations filled my mind ...

Still fill my mind -- kings, queens. princesses, beggars, witches, goblins, animals, bats, birds, lions, forests, mountains, skies, castles, so many wondrous visions ...

Oh sure, I looked at comics -- I liked the "Dragon Lady," "Smiling Jack," and "Orphan Annie," but even now, when I draw, or write, in my mind I see those illustrations -- that castle ...

I climb and climb and search, and keep finding more marvelous amazing doors and windows in that castle ...

Enjoy Dr. Seuss' Lorax. Enjoy the lavishly disney-ated LORAX film. But gee -- please find a way to show the kids the castle ...

(The illustrations were by Milo Winter, Maginal Wright Enright, Donn P. Crane. Bert Elliott, Portia Jacob and Dorothy Hoff.)

7 comments:

Maureen Jacobs said...

Kids today need to read books. Big books with words. My oldest is required, by us, to read 2 hours a day. Not comic books, not magazines, but books. He read Tolkien at 7 and is now 10 and very smart. I don't wish to sound like I am bragging, however, everyone who reads is smart. Reading opens up a plethora of worlds to the reader. Classics and modern books generate so much in the young mind.

Not to discount movies, but they miss many of the nuances that the book entails. We have a rule in the house, you must read the book before watching the movie.

I, for one, love the movies. Cinema also takes us to the ends of the world and back. But to really grasp the true pleasure of a story, you must read one. Have yourself your own mini movie in your head. It is much more of an intimate experience.

I will definitely see this movie with my youngest, but don't forget the power of reading.

Maureen Jacobs

Love & Light to both you and JC

A.S. Washington said...

I think kids need the LORAX and not another mickey mouse or bugs bunny, they've already got them rehashed and reused. They've got enough mindless animated entertainment that's just the good old fashioned good guy vs bad guy drama that really means nothing to the world.

Cartoons like the LORAX focus on issues affecting the world today which is good. For younger children, much will go over their heads and they wont understand the significance of what they're watching. But a 10 to 12 year old will better grasp it. They know that dad or mom got laid off because of big business, or that money makers don't always care about the environment, and it may make them want to do something. When entertainment also educates, it's the best thing. Because our country, our world is in a tailspin toward oblivion if things keep going the way they do. The sad part is, so many writers of old 20-70 years ago foresaw a lot of what is going on today. Directors are bringing these things more and more to light.

While of course making a quick buck.

Anonymous said...

The Lorax is another wonderful Disney kid movie. It does have everything in it to be a success story. But, I think it is like all the rest and will end up to be another fad and be replaced by another movie. I would rather see and read to my children the good old stand by stories that have lasted all these years, like the ones Em mentions and refers to....those have a magic that lasts forever in everyone's hearts.....kam

Kaye Francis said...

On the plus side of for the Lorax, did the book and subsequent movie come from 'an honest point of view'?
* * *
Is it a critical time globally to really seek what is an equitable balance between nature, use of resources, job creation and all of that?
* * *
Now, in general ~ about cartoon movies, cartoon television networks (FOX is it) while there is indeed artistry involved, doesn't it really cut out having to pay actors other than voice overs? Does it not make the circle of expenditured payouts in fact smaller, so the producers can make more money?
* * *
I am about the only one I knew that has only seen maybe an episode or two of The Simpsons. We have multi-generations of cartoon watchers, many of them adults. That worries me, it's like 'pulling teeth' to get my Grandson to watch any movie with me with human beings in it and no cartoon characters.
I have tried watching his favorites with him. I can't explain what they are (like Ninja adventures or something). I have to leave the room, I have to walk away, I can't enjoy them at all. One reason is while they don't use exactly bad language ~ often the cartoon characters are grossly disrepectful and snarky. Characters reflect bad manners and behavior that is considered 'the norm' by the watchers (grandson) who then reflects that bad attitude back to me during regular home hours at times. You know that doesn't 'fly' with me.
* * *
Getting back to the Lorax, Ima very happy the female lead is a sweet faced sassy red head. That reminds me of an Emily I know!
* * *
Very high quality 'read and put your thinking cap on' blog post Ms. Em. Much love to you and your John Cullum and FAMILY. I'm @grammakaye on twitter.

Michael Smith said...

Personally, I have no real problem with anyone utilising "ed-u-tainment" A term coined by Joss Whedon & Ben Edlund to a wonderfully comic effect in Angel season 5 episode 14 - Smile Time. If the message is positive and not too drenched in saccharine sweet tones, I feel like it is a worth while endeavour. Unfortunately, it seems that EVERYONE AND THEIR DOG want to do "message" films, television programs, and books.

As to the books of your childhood? Tomorrows children will probably never get to read an "old fashioned" book. They will most likely read anything on a Kindle or equivalent. Most of my most cherished memories are if my mother reading to me and teaching me what the words meant. Equally cherished are the memories of reading books to my daughter. Books have weight, substance, and smell. This is part of what makes them special. Sorry, I got off on my "I hate Kindle's rant"

Another great article (I know, I know. They're called blogs now-a-days)I am so glad I found these.

@MikesFilmTalk

ep vaughn said...

Now I know what a LORAX is. At least the story triumphs good over evil. Very little of today's entertainment does that.

My wife claims she learned all about opera as a child by watching Bugs Bunny. I still come in and find her watching him from time to time.

Carola said...

I treasured My Bookhouse books as a child. My mother hid them so well (or perhaps gave them to someone), that I could never find them after she died. I have replaced four of them at second-hand book-sales. Now I have to decide where to give them.

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