Western Animation: The Lorax
The Dutch posterThe Lorax
is a computer-animated
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, Aloysius O'Hare (Rob Riggle) and his air 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.
- 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.
- 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 Animals Are Domesticated
- 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.
Buy, sell, trade, squash
Pork, fat, cut, smash
Gold, yen, mark, pound
Short, coal, oil, war
- Ambiguously Gay/CampStraight: The Once-ler
- Ambition Is Evil: The Once-ler was ambitious from the start, but success led to his desire for more and more until he became corrupted by it.
- An Aesop: Over-industrialization is a terrible thing.
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not.
- Anticipatory Breath Spray: Ted does this before he enters Audrey's house.
- Anti-Villain: The Once-ler.
- Appeal to Inherent Nature: The chorus of the Once-ler's Villain Song begins with the line "How ba-a-a-ad can I be? I'm just doing what comes naturally."
- Artistic License – Geography / World Limited to the Plot: 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).
- The Atoner: The Once-ler.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Once-ler at the end of "How Bad Can I Be?"
- 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 Bad: O'Hare in Ted's story.
- The Once-ler ends up being this in his own 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.
- 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 Aesop: The movie is critical of corporations and against pollution... While the film itself had several tie-in promotions with several corporate properties, including products that are known to have hostile effects against the environment.
- 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.
- Card-Carrying Villain: When the antagonist bursts out into a rendition of "Let It Die", it's safe to say that subtlety is out the window.
- Cartoon Creature: All of the inhabitants of the Truffula forest.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Many of the animals that inhabit the area the Once-ler finds.
- 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.
- Conspicuous Gloves: The Once-ler dons elbow-length green gloves from the moment his business takes off to the end of the movie, as a Shout-Out to the original character.
- 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.
- Crapsaccharine 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.
- 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.
- Crowd Song: "Let It Grow" and "Thneedville"
- Cut Song: There are a few on the soundtrack, as well as some alternate versions of "Thneedville" and "Everybody Needs a Thneed."
- Daydream Surprise: An elaborate sequence 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.
- Deliberately Cute Child: 3-year-old Marie, even earning a big aww from the crowd.
- 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?!.
- 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'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.
- Parental Abandonment: Neither are both of Audrey's parents.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: It's difficult not to want to be in the Once-ler's shoes during "How Bad Can I Be". Though he's brought back to earth hard in the following scene.
- 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.
- Everything's Funkier with Disco: The Oak-a-matic has four settings: summer, fall, winter, and disco!
- Evil Laugh: O'Hare.
- 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.
- Flat Character: O'Hare. There's a reason he's been compared to a Captain Planet villain. Though this does give us a rather funny moment in the final musical number where he seems about ready to change his ways....then says "Naaah! Just kidding!", remaining a Flat Character to the end.
- 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.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: The Once-ler, in his flashback.
- 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.
- Greek Chorus: The Humming Fish occasionally show this in the Once-ler's flashbacks, at one point, they start resembling the mice from Babe.
- 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.
- Hereditary Hairstyle: Ted's mother and Grammy Norma. The only difference between them is color (Justified, due to Grammy's age).
- 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.
- Hipster: The Once-ler, depressingly in this incarnation.
- 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 the Real Monsters: 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
It could be time to start anew
And maybe change my point of view...
Nah! I say let it die!
- 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.
- Played with: Once-ler and Pipsqueak only face relatively passable rapids at first, and once they clear those... They see the huge roaring waterfall the trope normally deals with.
- 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.
- It's All My Fault: The Once-ler. "They're all gone...It's because of me..."
- 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.
- Last Note Nightmare: HOW BAD CAN THIS POSSIBLY BEEEEEEEE?!?!
- LEGO Genetics: A boy turns into a bioluminescent mutant after going into the local polluted swimming pool.
- Literal Ass Kicking:
The Once-Ler: And don't let the boot hit you on the way out.
Ted: The boot?
- Little Boy Seeks Big Girl: 12-year-old Ted's crush for high school girl Audrey.
- 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.
- 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: "My name is Ted Wiggins, and I speak for the trees!"
- A visual example with those two characters is the ring of stones that they placed around trees.
- Meaningful Name: Ted, the actual name of Dr. Seuss. Also Audrey, named after his second wife.
- The Once-ler, as in the original.
- 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?"
- Metaphorically True: The Once-ler promises the Lorax he won't cut down any more trees. And he doesn't. He gets others to do it for him.
- Mister Big: O'Hare.
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: The elderly Once-Ler.
- Moment Killer: Ted and Audrey nearly kiss, but Ted's mother yells, "We don't have time for that!"
- 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.
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. [beat] Nah, I say let it die! Let it die! Let it shrivel up- who's with me?
3-Year-Old Marie: Nobody.
Delivery Guy: You greedy dirtbag!
- 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.
- 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 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.
- Non Indeicative Name: The Humming Fish don't actually hum; they sing a capella. Also, they're amphibians, not fish per se.
- Not Good with People: The Once-ler ironically seems to be more comfortable around the animals than other people.
- 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.
- Oddly Small Organization: Once-ler's Thneed Company only seems to ever have his family as its workers despite how big it gets.
- O'Hare's company seems to follow this trope as well, with the only employees being O'Hare himself, his two goons, and the one delivery man. This is especially noticeable in the climax, where O'Hare feels the need to join the chase himself.
- Offscreen Teleportation: After the Once-ler tells the Lorax that he's not going anywhere, he walks into his house and shuts the door only to discover the Lorax standing there.
- Oh, Crap: Ted has one just before he's launched up in the air when he rings the Once-ler's doorbell.
- Opening Chorus: "Thneedville"
- The Outside World: The film has Ted wanting to go to the Outside World to find a real live tree for a girl he likes. However, he finds that the outside is a really bleak and dark Crapsack World.
- 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."
- Made worse by the fact that he had a legitimate Pet the Dog moment earlier with the very same animal.
- 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.
- 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.
- He also ends up wearing a pink thneed scarf.
- 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.
- Sanity Slippage: The Once-ler gets more committed to "biggering" the more the Lorax calls him out on the effects of his operations. It isn't until the last tree falls that he comes to his senses.
- Sanity Slippage Song: The Cut Song "Once-ler's Traveling Madness" is one of these.
Look, it's some circling birds
I bet you that they're going to eat our corpses
And then the worms will come out of the ground
And then some other little critter's gonna come and
Make furniture out of our bones
And sit on it, and have lovely dinners
AND THIS WHOLE THING WILL BE A DISASTER
- 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. He does this when the forest animals attack him, as well.
- The man who's having a bath when Ted drives into his house to get out of the city.
- One plot point regards a salesman selling canned air, in actual soda cans.
- Thneed-Ville is a lot like the Village in The Prisoner.
- The trees on the ski course are from Lego sets.
- The Humming Fish hum the Mission Impossible theme when the Lorax and the Barbaloots carry Once-ler's bed to the river.
- Audrey's design is reminicent of Pontoffel Pock of Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You?/And his Magic Piano.
- 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' 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.
- Start of Darkness: The song "How Bad Can I Be" demonstrates Once-ler's Face-Heel Turn as he justifies his actions to himself.
- 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.
- 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.
- The advertisement proposed to O'Hare, 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 (in keeping, since both movies come from Universal and Illumination Entertainment).
- 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. (Incidentally, Taylor Swift really is taller than Zac Efron, though not to quite the same extent.)
- 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 Protagonist: The Once-ler, as in the original book. Of course, he's more sympathetic here.
- Villain Song:
- "How Bad Can I Be?"
- 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.
- Vocal Dissonance: Does Ted even sound close to a twelve-year-old?
- Waistcoat of Style: Young Once-ler sports one.
- Wall Around the World: Thneedville.
- We Used to Be Friends: After "How Bad Can I Be", the Lorax asks the Once-ler if his presence makes him remember the promise he broke and the person he used to be. Once-ler doesn't take this well.
- "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.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Once-ler.
- 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...
- It seems his real name is Wuncler. The only time we actually see his name written is during How Bad Can I Be?, and Once-ler seems like a nickname that stuck.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl:
Once-ler: "You wouldn't hit a woman!"
The Lorax: "That's a woman?"