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  • Writer's pictureBryce Chismire

The Lorax - Arbor Day Review (in Rhyme)

Updated: May 30, 2023

Let’s pick up where we left off. Is that OK?

Last week, I reviewed Princess Mononoke,

a film that glorifies nature, condemns war,

and is famed for its themes, artistry, and gore.

Then, as I sat evaluating its story,

I felt twinkles of a certain glory

concerning wisdom and blindness in the woods

like my past came back with familiar goods.



What I felt took me way back to Gram’s house,

which was a duplex but modest as a mouse.

Whosever left side it was, she had the right side,

and I remember it feeling bright inside.

She was a constant smoker, I can tell,

but unlike most people, I didn’t mind the smell.

And I remember her being pleasant and nice,

since her attitude always left me enticed.

Meanwhile, I had fun in the lounge room upstairs,

where the railing allowed me to peek downstairs.

In front of me, with the bathroom on my left,

and on my right, a wooden desk nearly bereft

of light apart from the lights shone through the window,

lay a TV screen with adventures on which to go.

Beneath it were a few videocassettes

That I rewatched and enjoyed with no regrets.

Among them was Rudy, who rose into fame,

since my father went to college at Notre Dame.

There was also “It’s Not Easy Being Green”,

a Muppet sing-along with lyrics on the screen.

And then, there’s this, also a sing-along tape,

except its crucial moments left my mouth agape.

Revisiting it, The Lorax, just by an inch,

is my favorite Seuss story next to the Grinch.


The special starts with a boy from decrepit lands

visiting the Onceler, who, besides his hands,

you never see throughout the entire thing.

He remembered a time when the lands used to sing

with humble wildlife, including brown Bar-Ba-Loots

who lived out and about in their Bar-Ba-Loot suits,

the pretty Swomee Swans, and the Humming Fish.

But what fulfilled the Onceler’s most dire wish

was the tufts of the curvy Truffula Trees.

Relishing its soft texture, as he did please,

the Onceler chopped down a tree under the need

to create a product with its tufts called a Thneed,

to use for anything and almost everything.

Once produced, the Thneed would’ve been fit for a king

and used as accessories, clothing, even food.

The Lorax, however, thought this was not good,

because the Onceler’s pride and ambition laid waste

to the forest as he made the Thneeds in haste.

He profited off of them day by day

as the affected wildlife wandered away.

Disturbed, the Lorax expressed his pleas, then his jeers,

to the Onceler as they kept falling on deaf ears.

Would the Lorax get his warning across?

Or would the Onceler’s greed lead to a greater loss?


As is known of Dr. Seuss’ stories, they entail

a certain crispness and whimsy in each detail.

But their meat’s in the writing, for Seuss’ sense of rhyme

made his tales some of the most beloved of all time.

And yet, The Lorax carries juicier meat here

for its topics are more mature than they appear.

This time, Dr. Seuss played his hand on pollution,

and his finesse strengthened its sense of solution.


The reason? To start with, the characters shone bright.

With each turn of events, be it triumph or plight,

The Lorax and the Onceler were both heard,

Not one or the other, leaving the lines more blurred.


Here, I can hear the Onceler’s side of the story

even as his moves felt more predatory.

You see, I learned that, underneath his showy flair,

he pondered whether his steps to success were fair.

While part of it came from The Lorax’s intrusions,

his questions to himself still bore disillusion.

The song “Why Are You a Onceler?” showcased this

notwithstanding his reversion, which wasn’t amiss.

One thing I like about him not showing his face

is that he could’ve been anyone from any place.

And no, I’m not using the new film as reference.

This ‘Lorax’ would always be my preference.

In short, I sensed dynamics from this “bad guy”,

making him feel real for a Seuss foe. Oh, my!



The Lorax, who speaks for the trees, looked cutely wise

while his consistency might pale to doubtful eyes.

But regarding breakthroughs, he felt far from alone

since he had a soliloquy of his own.

He tried to grasp the mayhem that unfolded

while trying to keep his home from being molded.

Even when it looked like it was to be in vain,

his commitment to life values cleansed like rain.

I have always heard of Mother Nature,

but I admire how he’s like Father Nature.

Something about him as a personification

paints an intriguing stance on urbanization.

For me, his consistency made him a trooper

’cause his reprimands and persistence felt super.


However, The Lorax and Onceler’s discussions

drummed throughout the special like percussion.

As I mentioned, the moral lines became blurry

as each characters’ issues made them both worry.

The constant debates they shared with each other

touched on one crucial subject after another,

being curious for kids but weighty for adults,

and The Lorax’s a tour de force as a result.

For example, when the Lorax complained

about his friends and of the forest being drained,

usually, you’d abide by him all the way.

But then, the Onceler gives him this response:


Well, what do you want? I should shut down my factory? Fire 100,000 workers? Is that good economics? Is that sound for the country?


Touché!


Even the Lorax thought he had a good point.

Their convictions became slightly muddled at this point,

which made them more relevant. So they didn’t disappoint.


But in my opinion – and it’d make my point swell –

this line by The Lorax aged...too well.

They say I’m old-fashioned and live in the past,

but sometimes, I think progress progresses too fast!


See, before you watch ‘children’s’ media and hate,

see if there’s something in them to evaluate.

‘Adult’ could be ‘childish.’ ‘Childlike’ could be ‘mature’.

Open your mind more, and you’ll enjoy more for sure.


But their disputes aren’t all that’s worth a look.

One thing the special expanded on from the book

was the Onceler’s influence because of the Thneed.

Let’s start with how he began the trend at full speed.

First, he called his brothers, uncles, and aunts

to join his workforce, on which they took that chance.

So, it began as a family business before

it spread out and became a major corps.

Soon after, the Thneeds became hot best sellers,

as arranged by the Onceler and his fellers.

In a way, it makes him feel like Steve Jobs,

whose Apple products forged a following that throbs.

The Onceler, with his influence, was in the zone

down to ‘Thneed’ being ‘carved in everlasting stone’.

His mark was everywhere, even on the outskirts,

merchandise, and consumers. To the Lorax, this hurts.



But it’s not just him. With Thneeds being the bee’s knees,

special attention to the Truffula trees

could’ve been considered one of the top priorities.

Those who cared could’ve exercised their authority

to oversee the development of the Thneed

and tend to its source if that’s what all people need.

However, because of the rapid pace

on which the Onceler had the products in place,

plus the time it takes a Truffula tree to grow –

The Lorax said at least twenty years; he should know –

such progression would’ve jeopardized his company

just as much as it would every Truffula tree.

If the resources for the Thneed became tired,

so, too, would’ve the legacy the Thneed inspired.


Also, some parts of the Onceler community

did things that make them faultier than they may be.

During “Everybody Need a Thneed” ’s praises,

the Thneed was said to be used in places

as a canary’s natural nest, even though

it was harvested by force from nature. So...

Plus, the Lorax went to the Thneed headquarters

when behind him came another transporter

with “Sanitation is Beautiful” on it.

It carried garbage, and it dumped them bit by bit

in rivers below, where the Humming Fish grew.

In other words, they expressed hypocrisy, too.



Speaking of, for the sake of examination,

Let’s shift our attention to the animation.

As I said about this special earlier,

it embodied Dr. Seuss’ swirlier,

more imaginative drawings and whimsy

onto the locations and characters since he

mastered them throughout the books, anyway.

But here’s how they’re pretty, besides the display.

The half-hour length gave ‘Lorax’ more to attach,

so it afforded zany locations to match.

They look like something you’d identify

with Dr. Seuss and his artwork on the fly.

Being co-producer of this special paid off,

and Seuss laid his creative thumbprint here quite oft.


The colors and atmosphere are also spot-on.

The Truffula forest, before it was trod on,

expressed a splash of color down to its wildlife,

making them look cheerful and free from strife.

On the other hand, the Onceler, oh so perky,

his affiliates and brand looked dim and murky,

to hit home how they’re all kinds of jerky.


Their intrusion was reflected in the backgrounds

once the forest was soiled, and their greed knew no bounds.

The scenery was bright and full of color

before it slowly became smoggy and duller.

This counts as a warning of what would happen

if your life goals leave your surroundings misshapen.



To be honest, judging from their green ‘skin’,

I thought the Onceler, his horde of fans, and his kin

happened to be the same species as the Grinch,

but some details kept this from being a cinch.

For instance, the special does star human beings,

like the boy and the unseen, so there’re some leans.

Plus, the book shows that the Onceler wore gloves,

as showcased when he stashed his payment in his ‘snuvvs’.

Whether the Onceler’s identity’s conventional,

his ambiguity’s properly intentional.


The voice of both the Onceler and the Lorax

was Bob Holt. With his vocal range, his acts

showed stunning variation between both parts.

With the Lorax, he felt humble, spoke from the heart,

and excelled in his desperation as things crumbled.

With the Onceler, he sometimes spoke in grumbles

but excelled in his professionalism and mirth.

Plus, he played both roles to each other. His worth

was clear as his devotion to them was unearthed.



They’re no “Welcome Christmas” or, I ought,

“You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” by a long shot,

but the songs in this special weren’t too shabby.

There wasn’t a single song that left me crabby.

It also helps that, like The Grinch’s songs, they were penned

by Dr. Seuss himself. Such a fruitful trend!


The first song of the special, “Under the Trees”,

introduced the wildlife to me with ease.

Its bouncy tunes had me dancing along

as I relished their conditions through the song.


“To the Onceler’s House We Go” was just a riot.

As it introduced the Onceler’s family, the disquiet

was felt through their littering and reckless driving

despite the upbeat rhythms on which it’s thriving.


The song “Why Are You a Onceler?”, once again,

had the Onceler assess where he stood now and then.


A barbershop quartet-like choir sang their acclaim

quite nicely of the Onceler and his ‘good name’,

touching upon his origins as they transpired,

as did how he and the Thneed’s fame spread like wildfire.


As the Bar-Ba-Loots, Swomee Swans, and Humming Fish

Departed for greener pastures per their wish,

Each species had an accompanying song

as they went further on and became gone.

The Humming Fish’s song felt a tad too upbeat,

but the Swomee Swans’ song felt sad with solemn meat.


But the song that burrowed in my head like a seed

is “Everybody Do-Do-Do-Do Need a Thneed.”

It sounded like it came from a commercial,

but its excitable mood had quite the rehearsal.

Its rhythms kept me hooked from beginning to end,

and its artistic integrity I commend.

It showed The Lorax being subject to slapstick,

but does it suit or dampen the song? Take your pick.


For all the gripes over the new Lorax’s songs,

as their modern melodies were met with yawns,

these songs were no different, with or without wrongs,

for they all carried a 70s flavoring.

Still, their execution is worth savoring

on account of the lyrics by Dr. Seuss,

making the songs more likely to seduce.



That reminds me, one thing I am amused

by about the Onceler’s cohorts is how they used

separate last names from the name Onceler

yet still carried the same rhymes as Onceler.

For example, Funceler? O’Schmunsler? Yuneceler?

Such suspicious rhyme schemes make me ponder,

are they friends, distant relatives, or responders?


You know, while my mind is still fresh on the rhymes,

this special infused instances sometimes

where the characters spoke like normal,

but it sounded more informal than abnormal.

If anything, it makes them sound more refreshing

compared to the films, which struggled from their meshing.


The only part of ‘The Lorax’ on which I stump

is the schloppity-schlopp and gluppity-glup.

I feel like they’re there just to drive away

the Humming Fish and send them on their way.

But I wonder, were these the firm’s compressed waste?

Or were they just randomly jumbled slime and paste?


Without giving anything away, I’ll admit

that the way this special ended would hit

you harder than most family specials would.

But in the context of ‘The Lorax,’ that’s good.

It showed how there would be consequences

to your actions unless you come to your senses.

I guess the “Thneed” carved in everlasting stone must

carry as much value as Ozymandias’ bust.

Yet, even in the face of catastrophe,

it showed how a beacon of hope could set you free.



In fact, let’s look at how it played a role in hope.

It got old fast, but that’s thanks to the uphill slope.

As the Humming Fish got trashed and vacated,

One said what the Lorax did in the book and stated,


I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie.


What followed in real life was quite cheery.

In the 70s, Lake Erie had a reputation

as one of the most polluted lakes in the nation.

By the 80s, however, it had undergone

a cleaning project that left its toxins gone.

In light of this, Dr. Seuss wisely removed

that line from the book, leaving his Ohio fans moved.

The line’s still present in the special, as I said,

but it doesn’t diminish what you just read.


In light of everything you just read before it,

it’s a given. The Lorax? I adore it.

Its colorful visuals and rhymes amaze each child

while sneaking in topics that leave adults beguiled.

I enjoyed the special the story became,

but when I read the book, I loved that, too, all the same.


This is the tale of he who speaks for the trees.

Track this down and check it out. It’s a breeze.


My Rating

A



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