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 12-year-old boy in the city of Thneedville who has a crush on a high school girl, 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.
The film provides examples of:
0% 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?
3-year Old Marie: Nobody.
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.
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.
Agony of the Feet: This happens to the Lorax on a DVD special feature that lets viewers watch the characters playing with things from the Once-ler's cart. If the viewer selects the cart to get more items, then the Lorax kicks it to make the items appear, then wanders off the edge of the screen, clutching his foot in agony.
All There in the Manual: The bar-ba-loots (brown forest critters), 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" and on DVD special features. They are named in the book, however, along with the Swomee Swans and Humming Fish.
During the end of How Bad Can I Be, The Once-lers' family provide a backup chorus. It sounds like generic chanting, but the official soundtrack reveals lyrics that were apparently censored.
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.
Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: O'Hare drops a "damn it" to express his frustration during the climax. Given how out of tone it is with the rest of the movie and that just an annoyed look would have sufficed there it seem quite obvious why they put it in.
Bad Ass 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 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.
Big "NO!": O'Hare has his as the residents of Thneedville banish him with a rocket helmet as comeuppance for his greed.
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.
Bittersweet Ending: The townspeople don't really learn any lesson, they simply continue to blindly follow whoever makes an impression on them (not to mention how they don't have a mayor or canned air salesman anymore!), the Once-ler gets redemption from the Lorax, but he can't get his life back, and never really discovers his "full potential", instead he just fixes what he broke, and Ted's ending was neutral. The only character that really ends up with a truly good ending is "nature", if you want to count that.
That depends on how you look at it. The townspeople definitely learn one thing, and that's the fact that not everything is as perfect as they thought it was now that they've seen how bad things were this whole time just outside their city. It's also implied that they helped to restore the environment after the seed was planted in Thneedville, so maybe they did have an epiphany about nature's natural beauty and that having an artificial city isn't such a good thing after all. As for Ted, considering he both helped the Once-ler correct his mistakes and the implication that he and Audrey finally got together, which were his two main goals, his ending qualifies as being a positive one too.
Black and Gray Morality: The Once-ler is made far more sympathetic. In the animated special, he's not outright bad, but he is ignorant, careless, and greedy. In the film, he's really only cutting down trees by pressure from his family who aren't sympathetic in the least, until the "How Bad Can I Be" number, where he becomes much less likable. The film's other main antagonist, however, is on-par with a Captain Planet villain. Thus we have Once-ler (Gray) and O'Hare (Black).
Of course, the good guys are pretty much good.
Brains and Brawn: Once-ler's brothers are a threat because they can't tell a difference between a bear and a football. Once-ler's mother is a threat because she can.
Broken Masquerade: Ted discovers the world outside of Thneedville, and O'Hare and his minions stop at nothing to re-conceal it.
The Coconut Effect: When the rock hits one side of the Onceler's bed before it goes over the waterfall, there is a "sproing" sound as if tension has been released (like a diving board) - but there was never any tension in the bed - the rock simply landed on the opposite side, sending him off as if it was a seesaw.
The entire idea of Thneedville is a big Take That at modernization and industrialization. Thneedville is literally perfect, serene, and is entirely self sufficient. Although the air is almost completely polluted, leading to the Big Bad gaining his fortune by selling air. The world outside is dead and decaying, there are the huge, rusted logging machines that Once-ler used to destroy the forests, and the only sign of any life outside of Thneedville is the Once-ler himself, in the tower that he seems to have stayed in since his business failed. Crapsaccharine indeed.
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.
Descent Into Darkness Song: The Once-ler's Villain Song seems fine and dandy for most of the song. That is until he starts talking about not caring if the trees are dying, while you see him destroying said trees with the soundwaves from his guitar and carelessly hacking down every tree left and right while the forest creatures run for their lives. Not only does the song get so much darker, his voice gets a distinct malevolent echo at the end.
Biggering extends the whole descent into darkness. At the end, it sounds like the Once-Ler descended also into madness.
The Once-ler: Who cares if some THINGS are dying?!.
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's father and grandfather are never seen or mentioned in the film.
It's also never made clear if the man with the Once-Ler is his Father or Uncle. However, since the Once-Ler is supposed to be like Ted (in a sense), it might be his Uncle, so both Ted and the Once-Ler would have missing Fathers.
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.
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.
Failed a Spot Check: The Once-ler is completely oblivious to the arrival of the Lorax, despite storm clouds darkening the forest, accompanied with thunder and lightning, and lightning striking the stump itself. The Lorax lampshades this.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The "How Bad Can I Be?" song segment shows obviously unpleasant and horrid things happen to the environment and those that live within it while the lyrics constantly try to convince us that it's all for the greater good and is completely understandable.
Mama Bear: Although not immediately obvious, Ted's mom becomes this in the climax.
Man Hug: There is a particularly emotional one near the end of the movie between the Lorax and the Once-ler.
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!"
A visual example with those two characters is the ring of stones that they placed around trees.
O'Hare: My name's O'Hare, I'm one of you! I live in Thneedville too. The things you say just might be true. It might be time to start anew. Nah, I say let it die! Let it die! Let it shrivel up- who's with me?
Never My Fault: Once-ler's mother pins all the blame for the Thneed business failing on him.
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.
The TV spots for the DVD release include as little footage of Ted's story as possible.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If O'Hare would've kept his mouth shut after he sang the first part of his song during the Let It Grow song, he probably would've been allowed to stay as mayor even if his air company went bankrupt.
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.
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).
Pet the Dog: Exploited."How ba-a-a-ad can I be? Just look at me pettin' this puppy."
Plot Hole: If there weren't any trees in Thneedville, then how was the town still inhabitable? Especially seeing how trees are needed to create oxygen.
Not to mention, where exactly is O' Hare getting the synthetic oxygen?
It was briefly explained by a billboard in the background during the sales pitch scene. The billboard illustrates the cycle of selling air, breathing air, filtering air, selling it again. Presumably he just filters the air, pumps the pollutants out of the city, and sells the cleaned air to the public again. This is more Artistic License - Chemistry than a Plot Hole.
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.
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.
Putting on the Reich: During "How Bad Can I Be?", the Once-ler's Family marches as an army behind him, swinging their hatchets like in a rifle drill.
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.
Real Men Wear Pink: While sewing his first thneed, Once-ler insists to himself that there's nothing unmanly about knitting.
Stealth Pun: Towards the end of the Disney Acid Sequence during "How Bad Can I Be?", the Once-ler is flattening truffula trees with the soundwaves from his electric guitar. In other words, he's using his axe as an axe.
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.
O'Hare's section of "Thneedville" (soundtrack version). It's a shame that part was cut, as it sums things up so nicely.
Everyone 'round here works for me I sell them something they should get for free We live in perfect harmony!
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.