The Jess Lomas Book Club: The Lorax

The Jess Lomas Book Club: The Lorax

*A weekly feature in which literary connoisseur Jess Lomas examines the upcoming book-to-film adaptations worth keeping an eye on!*

Is anyone else feeling tired today? No, just me? Okay, well, I’m going to take it a little easier this week with a book that will take you hardly any time to read! I really should have discussed this last week, to coincide with the author’s birthday. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

Theodor Seuss Geisel – better known as Dr. Seuss – was born March 2, 1904. He left us in September of 1991, but his library of children’s classics remains. It’s said that every child grows up reading Dr. Seuss but until today I had never read The Lorax, the next Seuss book to get the 3D/CG feature film treatment.

Theodor Geisel was said to adopt the now-famous pen name after being caught drinking during prohibition. In order to continue writing for his college paper, drinking being grounds for dismissal, he decided to go by Dr. Seuss. The drinking would explain a lot, especially this passage from The Lorax:

And, under the trees, I saw Brown Bar-ba-loots
frisking about in their Bar-ba-loot suits
as they played in the shade and ate Truffula fruits.

Dr. Seuss is no stranger to film adaptations with How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Cat in the Hat and more recently Horton Hears a Who! all making it to the big screen. There are also various animated adaptations which can all be viewed on YouTube.

The Lorax will be produced for Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment, and will see the team behind Horton Hears a Who! Reunite, with Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio penning the screenplay and Daurio directing with Chris Renaud (a story artist on Horton).

The Lorax is an environmental story way ahead of its time. Published in 1971, it’s the story of the Lorax, a tree dwelling creature who speaks up against the evil, greedy Once-ler, who starts chopping down all the Truffula trees. “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. And I’m asking you, sir, at the top of my lungs.”

The Lorax is “shortish. And oldish. And brownish. And mossy. And he spoke with a voice that was sharpish and bossy.” In the film he will be voiced by Danny DeVito, which sounds like spot on voice casting if you ask me. Check out a first glimpse of the Lorax below; you have to admit he’s kind of cute.

Screenrant confirmed the following supporting voice actors back in October last year; Ed Helms (The Hangover) will voice the greedy Once-ler, Zac Efron (High School Musical) will play human boy Ted, while Betty White (Golden Girls favourite) will voice Ted’s grandmother. They also confirmed the introduction of two new characters that didn’t appear in the book: O’Hare, an industrialist who sells canned fresh air to humans as the world becomes increasingly polluted, and Audrey, a girl who dreams of seeing a Truffula forest in real life and will, of course, play love interest to Ted. Funny man Rob Riggle (The Other Guys) will voice O’Hare with no word on who will bring Audrey to life yet.

The Lorax will have to tread carefully the line between entertaining and preaching with its environment message, now more pertinent than ever many would say. Where the book’s text says directly what it means:

“But now,” says the Once-ler,
“Now that you’re here,
the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear.
UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It’s not.

It’s not as easy to convey this message on screen without putting off a cinema audience. I’m starting to get visions of Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest, the film that was supposed to speak to a generation of kids who are now in their late twenties or early thirties. It’s fair to say a film doesn’t change the way people live, especially if the message is conveyed by rainforest dwelling fairies or a cute little orange creature with a giant moustache. We can only hope that while the environmental message is present there’s more to this film than ‘Save the trees’.

The Lorax is set for a release date of March 2, 2012 to coincide with the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

Discuss: Your thoughts on The Lorax?

One Response to “The Jess Lomas Book Club: The Lorax”

  1. The Lorax is the best book I have ever read. I have been impressed with the film adaptations of Seuss’s books but after reading your bit about them adding 2 new characters I think its message will be lost. This is a book I read to my children all the time, cause it makes me laugh and it amazes me that even though written in 1971 it is so appropriate for whats happening today. If I were the English PM or Education Secretary I would insist it be part of the cirriculum as I think this would be the nest way to promote the message in the right way. I will watch the movie, but somehow I dont think it will be as good as using my imagination when I read it. Now a film they ought to make is a collection of the short stories from Dr S, like Too many Daves, Sneetches on Beaches etc…now that would be brilliant!!!

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