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Western Animation / The Lorax (2012)

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The 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! (2008). Danny DeVito voices the Lorax. New characters include Ted (Zac Efron), a 12-year-old boy living in the synthetic 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 to win over her affection, Ted seeks out the home of the Once-ler (Ed Helms), who tells the regretful 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 that Ted stays in the city and nobody discovers the wasteland outside the limits.

The film was released worldwide on March 2, 2012 (coincidentally on which would've been the 108th birthday of the original author).

The Lorax provides examples of:

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  • 0% Approval Rating:
    • After completely despoiling the ecosystem, Once-ler is abandoned by the forest animals, his family, and the Lorax.
    • O'Hare, the Ultimate Authority Mayor, due to his company running everything, 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.
      Cy: (singing) You greedy dirtbag!
  • Abusive Parents: The Once-ler's mother. First, she derails his dreams, which hurt him for a long time. Then she pressures him into breaking his promise for the Lorax. Finally, when his business ultimately fails, she throws him away like garbage.
  • Acting Out a Daydream: When Ted imagines himself kissing Audrey, he actually kisses the cereal box. Ms. Wiggins implies that this has happened before.
  • Action Mom: Ted's mother during the chase scene.
  • Actionized Adaptation: The film adds action scenes that weren't present in either the book or the TV special, like the Lorax and the woodland creatures having to rescue the Once-ler from his bed falling off a waterfall, or Ted having to fight against O'Hare chasing him during the climax.
  • Actor Allusion: One of the fishes hums the theme to Mission: Impossible III. Coincidentally, Arturo Mercado Jr. (the young Once-ler's Latin American VA) voiced Ethan Hunt in that film.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The Once-ler's face was never revealed in the book or the movie, and it's unknown if he is even human (given his spindly green arms and yellow eyes, plus the fact that most of Dr. Seuss's characters are weird creatures), although he does say he "speaks for men" and talks about "human opportunities". In the movie, he's fully seen and his younger self is a pretty human.
  • 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.
  • Affably Evil: The Once-ler isn't maliciously evil; he just fails to recognize the consequences of his actions until it's too late.
  • Air Quotes: The Once-ler does this when being confronted by Lorax about cutting down all the Truffula trees.
    Once-ler: Look, if you've got a problem with what I'm doing, why haven't you used your, quote-unquote, "powers" to stop me?
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Once-ler wrecked the environment with his self-centered greed. But his regret over his actions, being abandoned by everyone (including his own family), and being left alone in broken wasteland is a not a fun fate.
  • All Animals Are Domesticated: The native animals of the Truffula forest that the Once-ler encounters are all friendly, only being initially wary of the Once-ler.
  • All There in the Manual: During the end of "How Bad Can I Be", the Once-ler's family provide a backup chorus. It sounds like generic chanting, but the official soundtrack reveals lyrics that were muffled.
    Buy, sell, trade, squash
    Pork, fat, cut, smash
    Gold, yen, mark, pound
    Short, coal, oil, war
  • All There in the Script: 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 in the DVD special features. They are named in the book and special, however, along with the Swomee Swans and Humming Fish.
  • Ambition Is Evil: The Once-ler is ambitious from the start, but success leads to his desire for more and more until he becomes corrupted by it.
  • Animal Lover: The Lorax often hangs out with the forest animals and describes them as "nature's innocent creatures".
  • Animal Motifs: In the song "Biggering" The Lorax gives Greed itself one of these describing it as a small pet that when fed will only get hungrier because the little pet known as "Greed" has a parasitic worm inside that itself is always demanding more food but can never be full no matter what, and the worm's name? Pride.
  • 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."
  • Armor-Piercing Response: The Lorax gives one to the Once-ler when the Once-ler claims that nothing is going to stop him from turning Truffula trees into Thneeds. The Lorax simply directs the Once-ler's attention to his own machines chopping down the last Truffula tree, and sadly declares, "Well, that's it. The very last one. That may stop you." The Once-ler is forced to finally take a good long look at how much damage he has caused, after it's far too late to stop it.
  • Artificial Outdoors Display: Thneedville run by O'Hare looks lush and clean... but then you see that the "trees" are all fakes, the "grass-filled ground" conceals actual soil beneath it, O'Hare is selling air to the citizens, and most of all, the bright blue sky is just a painting on a giant wall. Which Ted, the hero of the story, later breaks, to reveal to the other citizens the real world out there: a desolate ground with gray cloudy sky with no signs of life in sight.
  • 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, who is atoning for the destruction of nature in the pursuit of his Thneed business.
  • 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" as Ted escapes in an elevator during the climax. Given how out-of-tone it is with the rest of the movie and that just a frustrated growl would have sufficed there, it seems quite obvious this is why they put it in.
  • 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.
  • Better with Non-Human Company: The Once-ler ironically seems to be more comfortable around the animals than other people.
  • Big Bad:
    • O'Hare in Ted's story.
    • The Once-ler 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 yells "No!" when the residents of Thneedville banish him with a rocket helmet as comeuppance for his greed.
  • 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 is neutral. The only character that really ends up with a truly good ending is "nature", if you want to count that. On the other hand, though, if the townspeople did learn anything, it'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. Oh, and Audrey herself got to not only see a living tree as she'd wished, but to contribute to their reintroduction.
  • 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).
  • Blatant Lies: Once-ler tells one after chopping down a tree:
    Lorax: Did you chop down this tree?
    Once-ler: [gasps] What's that?! [as the Lorax turns to look, Once-ler quickly drops the axe handle on a Barbaloot, who is clearly too small to lift/carry it] I think he did it.
  • Bookends:
    • The first song, "Thneedville", and the last song, "Let it Grow", are both Crowd Songs. To further this, the first line of "Thneedville" - "In Thneedville, it's a brand new dawn" - is repeated as an echo at the very end of "Let it Grow".
    • The Once-ler's tale ends with the Lorax shaking his head in disappointment before magically lifting himself away from the fully corrupted Once-ler. Ted's tale ends with the Lorax magically un-lifting himself before the fully redeemed Once-ler and nodding his head in approval.
  • 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.
  • Busby Berkeley Number: The opening "Thneedville" song.
  • 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.
  • Canon Foreigner: Ted's family, Audrey, Marie, Wesley, Dan, Rose, Cy, O'Hare, among many others, never appeared in the book nor the 1972 animated short.
  • 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.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The Once-ler's axe. It is the implement he uses when he first ventures down his dark destructive path (by chopping down the first tree) and it is likewise the implement he uses when he is redeemed (by cutting down the boards enforcing his self-imposed exile).
  • The Coconut Effect: When the rock hits one side of the Once-ler'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 were a seesaw.
  • Comical Nap Drool: During the scene where all the animals invade the Once-ler's cottage, one of the Bar-Ba-Loots is sleeping on the light fixture right above the Once-ler, and drops of its drool fall right on his face.
  • 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.note 
  • Crowd Song: "Let It Grow", "Everybody Needs a Thneed" and "Thneedville".
  • Dark Reprise: Twice.
    • When the Lorax leaves, the beginning of the music sounds like the song sang by the Humming Fish when the Once-ler first arrived to the forest.
    • A more intense instrumental version of “Thneedville” plays when O’Hare is chasing Ted, Audrey, and Grammy.
  • 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.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The title character. He is more or less a supporting character in the second act of the story; he 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.
  • Defacement Insult: O'Hare gets back at Ted for defying his order not to go back outside Thneedville (and possibly bringing back trees) by painting over Audrey's tree mural with gray paint and writing "Courtesy of O'Hare, Inc." where it once was.
  • Deliberately Cute Child: 3-year-old Marie, even earning a big aww from the crowd.
  • 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. And then "Biggering" extends the whole descent into darkness, to the point where at the end, it sounds like the Once-Ler also descended into madness.
    The Once-ler: Who cares if some THINGS are dying?!.
  • Despair Event Horizon: "Well that's it... The very last one.", after the last truffula tree is cut down.
  • 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 never made clear if the old man in the Once-ler's family is his Father or Uncle. However, since the Once-ler is supposed to be like Ted (in a sense), and the original book says he called his uncles, brothers, and aunts, it might be his uncle, so both Ted and the Once-ler would have missing fathers.
  • Dope Slap: One of the fish dope-slaps another fish after it touches the stump and the storm preceding the Lorax starts.
  • Double Entendre: "How Bad Can I Be?" is potentially both a question and a challenge.
  • Dream Ville: Thneedville initially seems like an idyllic Seussian city, but it is not all that appears on the surface. The trees are made in factories (and out of plastic), requiring 96 batteries to operate, pollution is rampant and bad enough that Wesley taking a swim resulted in him getting a permanent Sickly Green Glow, and residents who want fresh air have to buy it from the O'Hare company.
  • Earth Song: The movie's climax ends with a song where the entirety of Thneedville agree to let the Truffula tree seed grow in the song "Let It Grow."
  • Easily Forgiven: The Once-ler. At the end, when he helps an attempt to regrow trees, the Lorax returns and tells him "you done good."
  • Ecocidal Antagonist: The film has two examples, the first being the Once-ler who zigzags the trope. While he's portrayed sympathetically and is not as overtly evil as the film's main villain, but was recklessly selfish in the past, as shown during his Villain Song, "How Bad Can I Be?", that he more or less embraced this trope and makes it clear that he cares more about profits than the well-being of the forest. The second one is Mr. O'Hare, who is the main Big Bad and plays the trope completely straight. Furthermore, O'Hare does business by making everyone pay for artificial air instead of getting air from the trees for free.
    The Once-ler: Who cares if a few trees are dying?!
  • 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.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: After the Once-ler's entire business goes under, a young O'Hare is working on cleaning the area. His co-worker looks at the old advertisement board for Thneeds and sarcastically wonders what the next big idea is going to be. He then coughs due to the horrible air quality, which gives O'Hare an idea to create an air business.
  • Even the Dog Is Ashamed:
    • Melvin, the Once-ler's mule who has been with him since they arrived in the forest, walks away from him along with the forest critters in their exile and refuses to return to the Once-ler because of his actions.
    • As an additional Gut Punch, Pipsqueak, the Bar-ba-loot who the Once-ler befriended with marshmallows, sadly refuses to return to him.
  • "Everybody Helps Out" Denouement: The movie ends with the musical number "Let it Grow," where the population of Thneedville agrees to start helping the environment after realizing what a horrible state it's in. The shot of the Lorax's home at the end suggests they've succeeded.
  • Evil Makeover: The Once-ler gets this treatment during the "How Bad Can I Be?" number.
  • Expy: Aloysius O'Hare is pretty much identical to Lord Farquaad in both height and haircut, but as a Corrupt Corporate Executive instead of a medieval noble.
  • The Faceless: Present-day Once-ler is this, until the final scene (and also not in the flashback sequences). This departs from the book, in which his face is never seen.
  • 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.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: The Lorax is in the Once-ler's room to deliver a dramatic warning. He does this and attempts to open the door and walk out... only to be unable to reach the door handle. The Once-ler helps him, and the Lorax tries warning him again.
  • Fix Fic: The amount of time devoted to things that weren't part of the source material, the way a large portion of the original story was abridged into a single song sequence, and the fully resolved happy ending in place of a thought-provoking question-mark ending make it like one to an extent.
  • Food Coma: Some bar-ba-loots and the Lorax himself are seen looking groggy after eating nine servings of pancakes.
  • 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.
  • Gasp of Life: The Once-ler shoots upright and gasps after the Lorax revives him via a Magical Defibrillator made out of two Bar-ba-loots.
  • Glass Smack and Slide: When villain O'Hare, flying with one of his goon thanks to rocket headgear, slams into a delivery truck driven by another of his goon, he gets squished on the windshield and, as he's sliding down, yells "You're fired!"
  • Granola Girl: Audrey has some shades of this; her desire for a natural Truffula tree provides Ted's motivation.
  • Gratuitous Disco Sequence: The Oak-a-matic has four settings: summer, fall, winter, and disco!
  • 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.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: At the beginning of Audrey's party throwback.
  • Hereditary Hairstyle: Ted's mother and Grammy Norma. The only difference between them is color (justified, due to Grammy's age).
  • Hero of Another Story: Ted and the Once-ler are this to each other.
  • Hipster: The Once-ler, 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.
  • Hurt Foot Hop: 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 hops off the screen, clutching his foot in agony. This is a reference to the 1972 TV special, in which the same thing happens to the Lorax when he kicks the Once-ler's Super Axe Hacker, which "whacks off four Truffula trees in one smacker!"
  • 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 laments that the trees are gone because of his past actions.
    Ted: So, this is really all your fault. You destroyed everything.
  • 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:
  • LEGO Genetics: A boy turns into a bioluminescent mutant after going into the local polluted swimming pool.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Once-ler was changed from a blatant greedy villain (albeit one who came to regret his misdeeds) to a naive and sympathetic anti-hero. The musical numbers and expanded plot distract from the original main plot of the Once-ler destroying the environment. The original book ended on a dark and pessimistic tone. In the original book, it was uncertain whether or not the Lorax would return, the forest of Truffula trees would regrow, and the Once-ler's destruction would be reversed. Meanwhile, the film decided to go straight for a happy ending.
  • Literal Ass-Kicking:
    The Once-ler: And don't let the boot hit you on the way out.
    Ted: The boot?
  • Look Behind You: The Once-ler pulls this on the Lorax.
  • 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. In the presence of Mr. O'Hair, the woman is practically trembling and clearly wants to make a good impression. The moment she sees him threatening her son, she insults the guy to his face and demands he leave.
  • Man Hug: There is a particularly emotional one near the end of the movie between the Lorax and the Once-ler.
  • Mechanical Animals: One of O'Hare's surveillance tactics is a robot cat with cameras in its eyes that meows when it's alerted.
  • 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, also with the Lorax and Ted, is the ring of stones that they placed around trees.
    • When the older Once-ler finally steps out of his house he is revealed to have grown bushy eyebrows and a big moustache, like the Lorax's. The Lorax even tells him "nice moustache".
  • Meaningful Name:
  • 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."
  • Mr. Fanservice: The Once-ler, of the pretty boy variation. He did a lot off shaking his butt and hips, bending over, and allowing his legs to be open at the audience. He once crawled across a table, as well as stripped down partially on screen.
  • 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. Even more so when he realizes he's losing all of the friends he made.
    • O'Hare pretends he's remorseful over how he's monopolized air and made his town such a thinly-veiled polluted crapsack. He then tries to get the crowd to let the Truffula die. It only makes the town want to plant the tree more.
      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. And maybe change my point of view... [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 is trying to sell Thneeds at the local town, he advertises 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.
    • "How Bad Can I Be" is basically a short musical summary of the main plot of the 1972 special. It even features the words "schloppity schlop" and "smogulous smoke".
  • Named by the Adaptation: Ted isn't named in the book, due to its Second-Person Narration.
  • The Napoleon: O'Hare is about three times shorter than Ted and very grumpy.
  • Nature vs. Technology: The film has a Green Aesop, with the truffula forest portrayed as an idyllic paradise, and the sci-fi type machines portrayed as nasty pollutants.
  • Never My Fault: Even though it was her original idea to deceive and manipulate him into cutting and chopping down all the trees to speed things up a bit, the 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 and introduced by the Once-ler one at a time as he tries to find material for his Thneed.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Humming Fish don't actually hum; they sing a capella.
  • Nothing Can Stop Us 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 only employs 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.
  • One-Wheeled Wonder: Ted's scooter has only one wheel, looking like a big ball. This doesn't stop him from doing impressive stunts with it.
  • Opening Chorus: "Thneedville"
  • Ostrich Head Hiding: When the Lorax first arrives, a bunch of birds plunge their heads into the ground and a bear tries to do likewise but its head just rebounds off the ground.
  • 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).
  • Paying for Air: In the city of Thneedville, inhabitants have to buy air in bottles due to the lack of trees, until they come back and Aloysius O'Hare is overthrown near the end.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Exploited as a Photo Op with the Dog by the Once-ler. Made worse by the fact that he had a legitimate Pet the Dog moment earlier with the very same animal.
      Once-ler: How ba-a-a-ad can I be? Just look at me pettin' this puppy.
    • After promising to never cut down trees again, (until his family manipulates him into doing so again) he switches to just picking small tufts off of the trees and makes about 9 courses of pancakes for the wildlife.
    • On a subsequent visit, Ted brings the Once-ler a bag of marshmallows, much to his delight.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The Once-ler's face is shown because it would be near to impossible to hide his face during an entire feature film. 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.
  • Precocious Crush: 12-year-old Ted's crush for high school girl Audrey.
  • 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.
  • Produce Pelting: When Once-ler tries to sell his Thneed, the townsfolk respond by pelting him with tomatoes. One enterprising old man sets up a stall to sell tomatoes to the crowd.
  • Product Placement: Thankfully avoided in the movie itself, but some of the crossmarketing hasn't been without controversy.
  • 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.
  • Ramp-rovisation: 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.
  • Rotten Rock & Roll: The Once-ler's Face–Heel Turn is accompanied by the rock song "How Bad Can I Be?"
  • Ruder and Cruder: O'Hare says "damn it" twice by the end, which is the only reason the film got a PG rating. Naturally, the Dr. Seuss children's book on which the film is based had no such language.
  • 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

  • Scarily Specific Story: The Once-ler is mad at Ted Wiggins for interrupting his story of the past, so he tries to intimidate him by claiming that the story will soon feature a musical number about "the kid who kept interrupting the story and was never heard from again".
  • 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.
  • Shaking the Rump: Mostly from the Once-ler, who bends over to shake it at the viewers quite a few times. And also Ted's mom when disco dancing; she wiggles her butt directly at her son.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: The three Humming Fish disappear when it's time to be serious.
  • Shout-Out:
    • 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 reminiscent of Pontoffel Pock of Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You?/And his Magic Piano.
    • Ted has a Minion keychain in a desk drawer.
    • A guy tries to impress a sweet-natured young woman named Audrey by growing a fantastic plant? Why does that sound familiar?
    • The queue of people waiting to pelt the Once-ler seems familiar.
    • The Once-ler's Fat Bitch aunt being named Grizelda could be a reference to The Monkees song "Your Auntie Grizelda".
  • 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 the donkey.
  • Slasher Smile: Once-ler gives one at the very end of "How Bad Can I Be?"
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: The entire theme of the How Bad Can I Be? song. Over the course of the song, the Once-ler makes more and more compromises to his morals until by the end he no longer has any qualms about destroying the environment and driving his former friends out of their homes.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": "The" Once-ler.
  • Spooky Animal Sounds: The place where the Once-ler lives is framed as very unsettling, since it's out of town (and, in Thneedville, it's against the law to leave town) and it's so polluted that grass doesn't grow there. Some crows can be seen there and they caw ominously, and they're stated to be the only birds that sing there.
  • 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.
  • Talking Animal: The crowd during the Everybody Needs a Thneed number includes a random cat riding and singing atop a guy's helmet.
  • Tastes Like Disdain: After the Once-ler and his family cut down the entire forest, he offers Pipsqueak the Bar-ba-loot a marshmallow, but Pipsqueak turns it down.
  • Tempting Fate: "How Bad Can I Be?" Well, Once-y, since you asked so nicely...
  • Time Skip: According to the producers, five years passed once the Once-ler and his family started their Thneed operations. The "How Bad Can I Be?" montage is meant to be the passage of time going by as they destroy the Truffula forest.
  • 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.)
  • Too Unhappy to Be Hungry: The Once-ler tries to cheer up Pipsqueak with a marshmallow after he's sad about being forced to leave home. Pipsqueak rejects it.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: The Once-ler undergoes a jarring change in temperament (as part of a Face–Heel Turn in a Descent into Darkness Song) when his Thneed business becomes a success, turning from a mostly good-natured guy into a greedy, arrogant Corrupt Corporate Executive, carelessly abusing and exploiting the forest creatures he'd previously befriended.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: The Once-ler loves marshmallows and uses them to win over the forest creatures.
  • 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.
  • Treachery Cover Up: The greenery you see in the town? It's plastic to cover up the environmental destruction.
  • Ultimate Authority Mayor: Ohare seems to have so much power he had the ability to ban people from leaving town.
  • Unconventional Food Usage: Grammy Norma bounces her jello around on her plate, causing her daughter Mrs. Wiggins to scold her for playing with her food.
  • 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.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The Once-ler's family ditches the Once-ler once he has chopped down every tree in the land. Nevermind the fact he let them enjoy his fortune.
  • Unscientific Science: Whereas the book shows the devastation and pollution the Once-ler has wrought on the land (which is bad enough), the film adaption keeps emphasizing the very air everyone breathes as being affected. It becomes its own plot-arc with O'Hare. Trees are carbon neutral, as in, they release as much oxygen during the day as they absorb during the night. Deforestation presents us with all kinds of problems - soil erosion, landslides, loss of habitat, loss of wildlife etc, but it doesn't affect our air quality.
  • 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?"
    • Among the soundtrack's cut songs, "Biggering", a darker Rock Opera-esque song that was eventually replaced by "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!
  • 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?
    • Cy's voice sounds very young, soft, and high-pitched for a moustachioed, middle-aged delivery man.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Subverted. At first glance, "Once-ler" appears to be 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... but then, it would seem 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.
  • Wicked Wastefulness: Unlike the original book, this adaptation makes it clear that the Once-ler doesn't have to cut down whole Truffula trees to make Thneeds - — he only needs to pluck the tufts that grow on them, which will grow back in time. He even promises to do exactly this when the Lorax calls him out on it, only to be manipulated by his family into breaking the promise so they can speed up production. The Once-ler promptly goes Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, and only realises the damage he's caused when the last Truffula tree falls.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Once-ler.
  • Working Class Anthem: "How Bad Can I Be?" has elements of this, showing that the Once-ler's success is corrupting him and doing harm to the world around him, including environmental degradation and Fake Charities.
  • 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.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl / Lady Looks Like a Dude: The title character is about to open a can of fury on a relative of The Once-ler's, who objects saying:
    The Once-ler: You wouldn't hit a woman, would you?
    The Lorax: That's a woman?!


The Lorax multilanguage

Danny DeVito voiced The Lorax in English, Italian, Spanish (both), Russian and German.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / MultipleLanguagesSameVoiceActor

Media sources: