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The Lorax is a computer-generated family feature film based on the book of the same name by Dr. Seuss. It is the third film by Illumination Entertainment and the second animated film from the team from Despicable Me, as well as the writers from Horton Hears a Who. Danny DeVito voices the Lorax. New characters include Ted (Zac Efron), a teenager in the city of Thneedville who has a crush on his high school classmate Audrey (Taylor Swift), who says that Truffula Trees once populated this area before a city was built over it, and wishes to see them for herself. In an attempt win over her affections, Ted seeks out the home of the Once-ler (Ed Helms), who tells the tale of how he brought down the forest. But once he's discovered leaving town, the O'Hare company that oversees Thneedville wants to ensure Ted stays in the city and ensure nobody discovers the mess outside the city limits.
The film was released in March 2012.
- Zero-Percent Approval Rating: O'Hare gets this near the end of the movie when Ted reveals the corrupt nature of both his business and character. Even his goons turn on him.
O'hare: Let it die, let it die. Let it shrivel up and... Come on, who's with me?
- Abusive Parents: The Once-ler's mother. First, she derails his dreams, which hurt him for a long time. Then she pressured him into breaking his promise for The Lorax. Finally, when his business ultimately fails, she throws him away like garbage.
- Action Mom: Ted's mother during the chase scene.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Young Once-ler, given that we never see his face in the book.
- Adaptation Expansion: The movie expands on the Frame Story with the boy seeking out a tree to impress a girl he's in love with and then we see his struggle to undo the environmental devastation the Once-ler created in the face of his municipal government's opposition. The boy is given the name Ted, and his mom, Grammy Norma, Audrey, and O'Hare (indeed, the entire Thneedville population save for Ted) were never in the book.
- Adorkable: The Once-ler. His facial expressions alone really sealed the deal for a lot of people.
- Affably Evil: The Once-ler is never maliciously evil, he just fails to recognize the consequences of his actions until it's too late.
- All-Star Cast
- All There in the Manual: The forest creatures, except for one easily missed line, are not named in the film, although they are mentioned in the soundtrack album version of "This is the Place". They are named in the book, however.
- Anticipatory Breath Spray: Ted does this before he enters Audrey's house.
- Anti-Villain: The Once-ler.
- Artistic License Geography: Thneedville and the former Truffula forest are treated like the only places left in the world in the main (post-Lorax) story, despite the Once-ler traveling to various locations on his quest for Thneed material and having grown up in a rural area far away enough from Thneedville that his family needed an RV to get there.
- Ascended Extra: The boy who's listening to the Once-ler's story is given a name (Ted) and an expanded role in the film (searching for the trees in order to impress a girl).
- Author Avatar: Audrey is clearly supposed to be producer (and widow of Dr. Seuss) Audrey Geisel and her views. Ted (named after Dr. Seuss) less so.
- Badass Biker: When Ted gets on that scooter, awesomeness ensues.
- Bedmate Reveal: The Once-ler wakes up in his bed...and sees the face of the Lorax yawning next to him. Cue both freaking out.
- Big Bad: O'Hare in Ted's story.
- Big Brother Is Watching: The leaders of the city don't like the idea of anyone trying to leave, and they have cameras everywhere.
- Big Eater: The fat bar-ba-loot naturally seems to have shades of this.
- Billing Displacement: Trailer only. The film's opening credits are actually appropriate, starting with the three characters from the book in order of importance (Danny DeVito as the Lorax, Ed Helms as Once-Ler, and Zac Efron as Ted) and the rest following. The trailer on the other hand plays up Zac Efron and Taylor Swift, gives Danny DeVito an "And Starring", and never mentions Helms at all.
- The Boo Radley: Old man Once-ler.
- Broken Masquerade: Ted discovers the world outside of Thneedville, and O'Hare and his minions stop at nothing to re-conceal it.
- Busby Berkeley Number: The opening "Thneedville" song.
- Canon Foreigner: Ted's family, Audrey, and O'Hare never appeared in the book.
- Cartoon Creature: All of the inhabitants of the Truffula forest.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Many of the animals that inhabit the area the Once-ler finds.
- Cool Old Lady: Ted's grandmother.
- Cool Shades: The Once-ler gets some during "How Bad Can I Be?"
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: O'Hare is the standard type, while the Once-Ler at his worst is more self-deluded about himself than anything else.
- Crap Saccharine World: The town of Thneedville seems like a really nice place. That is, until you see what lies outside the town... In the climax Ted gets the townspeople on his side by exposing it.
- Crowd Song: "Let It Grow"
- Cut Song: They're all on the soundtrack.
- Daydream Surprise: An elaborate squence where Ted daydreams of getting a Truffula Tree for Audrey's birthday. Cue Smooch of Victory and before the lips meet...
Ted's Mom: Tedster, you're kissing the cereal again, hon.
- Deadpan Snarker: Old Once-ler. The younger Once-ler has shades of this.
- Demoted to Extra: The title character. He is more or less a supporting character in the second act of the story, never appears in the main story (except at the end) and his story (the main story of the book) takes a back seat to the story of Author Avatars Ted and Audrey.
- Despair Event Horizon: "Well that's it... The very last one."
- Disney Acid Sequence: The song the Once-Ler sings while he and his family cut down the forest and build their factory.
- Disappeared Dad: Ted and the Once-ler's fathers are never seen or mentioned in the film.
- Parental Abandonment: Neither are both of Audrey's parents.
- Double Entendre: "How Bad Can I Be?" is potentially both a question and a challenge.
- Establishing Character Moment:
- The Once-ler gets this when he arrives in the Truffula Forest. When he unloads the van while singing he carelessly throws everything behind him, barely missing killing anyone; the animals are not amused.
- The Lorax gets one when he's first summoned and looks at the chopped down tree. He mourns for the chopped down tree before going after the Once-ler.
- Even the Dog Is Ashamed: When the Once-ler's mule walks away from him along with the forest critters.
- Everythings Funkier With Disco: The Oak-a-matic has four settings: Summer, Fall, Winter, and Disco!
- Evil Makeover: Once-ler when he becomes "The Once-ler" during the "How Bad Can I Be?" number.
- The Faceless: The Once-ler in the present-day, although not in the flashback sequences. This departs from the book, where you never see his face.
- Freudian Excuse: The Once-ler had a dreary childhood and parents who thought he would never amount to anything; thus his determination to prove himself, even at the expense of the forest.
- Funny Background Event: Quite a few, most of which involve the fish and bar-ba-loots.
- Granola Girl: Audrey has some shades of this; her desire for a natural Truffula tree provides Ted's motivation.
- Green Aesop: Lifted straight from the novel and given extra oomph with the addition of O'Hare and the modern Thneedville.
- Heel Realization: The Once-ler's expression when the last Truffula Tree falls.
- The Hermit: Old man Once-ler.
- Hero of Another Story: Ted and the Once-ler are this to each other.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Ted falls for redheaded beauty Audrey (who's older than him by a few years, mind you) and decides to find out about the fate of the trees for her sake.
- Hope Spot: Although it's subverted by the Foregone Conclusion, in the past, the Once-ler nearly gives up on his Thneeds before he manages to sell one, and later is willing to honor his promise to stop cutting down Truffula Trees before his mother gets greedy and manipulates him into it.
- How We Got Here: The film starts with all the trees gone and most of the film is the Once-ler telling the story of what happened to them.
- Human-Focused Adaptation: The focus is now more on the Boy (Ted) and the Once-ler than the Lorax. Arguably the Once-ler was the main character of the earlier versions too, but in those it's unclear if he is supposed to be human.
- Humans Are Bastards: The Once-ler is human in this adaptation, at least in the flashbacks. Even he didn't start out a bastard, but his parents clearly were and drove him to become one too.
- Identical Stranger: Done for dramatic purposes. The Once-ler looked a lot like Ted in his younger days. Also, the first person to ever get a Thneed looks a lot like Audrey.
- Ignored Epiphany: O'Hare's portion of "Let it Grow":
The things you say just might be true
- Inevitable Waterfall: It makes the practical joke that the Lorax plays on the Once-ler a lot more serious, and brings the two together for a short time.
- Invisible Backup Band: Partially averted during the Once-ler's song, "This Is The Place." The music comes from his electric guitar, without an amp. Lampshaded as he asks the animals what happened to his backup when the music comes to a sudden stop.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Inverted — We mostly see the Onceler in his youth, and it isn't until the end when we see his elderly self.
- Jewish Mother: Ted's mom has this in spades, which would technically make him Ambiguously Jewish.
- Karma Houdini: The Once-ler's family after manipulating him into despoiling the forest, ruining his business and rejecting him afterward. They leave and are never seen from again.
- Kick the Dog: In perhaps the fastest, blink-and-you-miss-it example, in the song "How Bad Could I Be", you see the a bar-ba-loot pick up what looks like one of the last few truffula fruit, and the largest is going to let the small one eat it... only to have Once-ler pick it right out of their hands and eat it in front of them.
- Knight Templar: Young Once-ler after his Face Heel Turn. Bonus points for having a Knight Templar Song while Affably Evil and appearing as an Eldritch Abomination to the animals and the Lorax at the song's end during the Disney Acid Sequence.
- Lego Genetics: A boy turns into a bioluminescent mutant after going into the local swimming pool.
- Literal Ass-Kicking:
The Once-Ler: And don't let the boot hit you on the way out.
- Look Behind You!: The Once-ler pulls this on The Lorax.
- Look on My Works Ye Mighty and Despair
- Lyrical Dissonance: The entire "Thneedville" number is a bouncy and upbeat song about how there is absolutely nothing natural or organic about the city, and their blissful ignorance regarding what happens to the waste.
- Mama Bear: Although not immediately obvious, Ted's mom becomes this in the climax.
- Meaningful Echo: At the beginning of the movie, The Lorax introduces himself: "I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees." In the climax, Ted does the same thing the Lorax does, "I am Ted! I speak for the trees!"
- Meaningful Name: Ted, the actual name of Dr. Seuss. Also Audrey, named after his second wife.
- Melismatic Vocals: The first line of each verse of "Thneedville" is punctuated with a melisma. And of course, "How ba-ah-ah-ad can I be?"
- Mister Big: O'Hare.
- Mood Whiplash: From the song "How Bad Could I Be" to the Polluted Wasteland resulting from the very actions the song was about.
- Motor Mouth: The Lorax, when the Once-ler asks him how his bed got in the river, he says, "Iputyourbedinthewater."
- The Musical: Believe it or not.
- My God, What Have I Done?: As in the original book, the Once-ler once he sees the deforestation. The effect is added when he realizes he's losing all of the friends he made.
- Mythology Gag:
- The Once-ler's gloves are green. His arms were all green in the book and cartoon.
- "Everyone Needs A Thneed" returns with reworked lyrics.
- When the Once-ler was trying to sell Thneeds at the local town, he advertised them being sold for $3.98. This is the price he managed to bargain off with the first man who bought one in the book.
- The box of the toy plane Ted lands in Audrey's house is labeled "Geisel's Gadgets." Geisel is Dr. Seuss's last name.
- Of course, Ted and Audrey share names with Ted and Audrey Geisel, with Ted Geisel being Dr. Seuss' real name and Audrey his wife and the film's executive producer.
- Naked People Are Funny: Averted. There's a quick scene where the Once-ler strips off his pajamas for a change of work clothes in front of the Lorax and the Bar-ba-lots, but it's never commented upon.
- The Napoleon: O'Hare.
- Never Trust a Trailer: Some people had to think that Ted was going to meet the Lorax even though he never did. The fact that the young version of the Once-ler looked strangely like him doesn't help.
- No Name Given: None of the forest creatures are referenced by name during the course of the movie, though the movie's official site seems to give some of the creatures names. In one of the cut songs included on the Soundtrack, "This Is The Place," they're all named & introduced by the Once-ler one at a time as he tries to find material for his Thneed.
- Nothing Can Stop Me Now: The Once-ler tells the Lorax that nothing will stop him from chopping down truffula trees to make more thneeds. Cue the very last tree falling...
Lorax: That's it. The very last one. That may stop you.
- Obliviously Evil: Once-ler during his "How Bad Can I Be" sequence.
- Oh Crap: Ted has one just before he's launched up in the air when he rings the Once-ler's doorbell.
- Only Sane Man: Ted, and the Once-ler before he turned.
- Opening Chorus: "Thneedville"
- Parental Bonus: The non-fiction book Too Big To Fail (about the current global economic crisis) is referenced in one scene. The film's producers seem to be in love with referencing topical news events (see Despicable Me).
- Pragmatic Adaptation: The Once-ler was made human because the producers felt that keeping him as he is in the book would send the wrong message to kids concerning who is responsible for causing environment destruction in that world. Also this film indicts the environmental blight of urban sprawl as well as unchecked industrialization. There's also the fact that trying to film the story exactly would make for a really depressing movie if you didn't have Ted's struggle to put things right.
- Product Placement: Thankfully avoided in the movie itself, but some of the crossmarketing hasn't been without controversy.
- Photo Op with the Dog: Literally, as part of "How Bad Can I Be?"
- Polluted Wasteland: The land surrounding Thneedville is this for a while; the air is full of smog, and unexplained oil-like substances are being leaked (if not deliberately pumped) into the water outside the town.
- Ramprovisation: Ted's attempt to jump over the gorge using a barrel and a board doesn't quite go as planned. Good thing too, because if it did, he wouldn't have had a way back.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Many of the animals in Truffula Valley. Mostly Pipsqueak.
- Rule of Three: The Once-ler spreads his story out and stops in select areas so Ted has to come back another day to hear the rest. It takes three days/visits for him to get the whole story.
- Scenery Porn: The vistas of Thneedville.
- Scenery Gorn: The environmental devastation outside Thneedville.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: The Once-ler's scream when he wakes up and finds the Lorax next to him is really high-pitched.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: The three Humming Fish disappear when it's time to be serious.
- Shout-Out Theme Naming: The main human characters are named Ted (short for Theodore, Dr. Seuss's real name) and Audrey (Dr. Seuss's wife).
- Silent Snarker: Melvin.
- Slasher Smile: Once-ler gives one at the very end of "How Bad Can I Be?"
- Spell My Name with a "The": "The" Once-ler.
- Take That:
- "How Bad Can I Be?" is a musical one against every popular modern excuse for corporate excesses you can think of.
- O'Hare's bottled air business is an obvious jab at the bottled water business.
- O'Hare's advertisement, on the other hand, looks like a jab at beer commercials.
- Tempting Fate: "How Bad Can I Be?" Well, Once-y, since you asked so nicely...
- The Cameo:
- A model of one of Despicable Me's minions can be seen as Ted looks through his drawer for a screw.
- There is also a picture of one on his Converse-looking sneakers, right where the logo should be.
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Ted and Audrey. Justified since he's twelve and she's in high school.
- Trailers Always Spoil: The second trailer tells you the book's ending! This is harmless to the movie itself though--the storyline is expanded to continue after those events.
- Trademark Favorite Food: The Once-ler loves marshmallows and uses them to win over the forest creatures.
- Treachery Cover-Up: The greenery you see in the town? It's plastic to cover up the environmental destruction.
- Undermined by Reality: The film's numerous corporate tie-ins screw up the message quite spectacularly. The Lorax speaks for the trees, and Mazda!
- The Unfavorite: The Once-ler is implied to be this before he sets out to find his fortune. He manages to shake it for a while after becoming a success, but it doesn't take long for his mother to choose his other brothers over him once more. Out loud. To his face.
- The Unmasqued World
- Vanity License Plate: The Once-ler has one on his horse-drawn wagon.
- Villain Song:
- "How Bad Can I Be?"
- O'Hare's section of "Thneedville" (soundtrack version).
- Among the soundtrack's cut songs, "Biggering", a darker Rock Opera-inspired version of "How Bad Can I Be?"
- Vitriolic Best Buds: The Once-ler and the Lorax. When the Thneed fails, they become genuine Heterosexual Life Partners...until the masses come clamoring for Thneeds and even then, he tries to listen to the Lorax and keep his promise, until Mom points out that production is slow thanks to picking the truffs from the trees...then it all goes downhill from there.
- Waistcoat of Style: Young Once-ler sports one.
- Wall Around the World: Thneedville.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Part of the Once-Ler's motivation is to please his fickle mother. Ultimately, she manipulates him and rejects him after she ruins his business and the forest.
Once-Ler's Mother: Son, you have let me down. Brett, you are now my favorite child.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Apparently, "Once-ler" is his actual name. His mom calls him "Once-y." His brothers, on the other hand, are named Brett and Chet, which proves that there ARE normal names...
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: "You wouldn't hit a woman!" "That's a woman?"