Dr. Seuss' The Lorax is a 2012 American computer-animated 3D musical fantasy comedy-drama film produced by Illumination Entertainment and based on Dr. Seuss' children's book of the same name. The film was released by Universal Pictures on March 2, 2012, the 108th birthday of Dr. Seuss.
It is the second adaptation of the book, following the 1972 animated musical television special. It builds on the book by expanding the story of Ted, the previously unnamed boy who visits the Once-ler. The cast includes Danny DeVito as the Lorax, Ed Helms as the Once-ler and Zac Efron as Ted. New characters introduced in the film are Audrey, who is voiced by Taylor Swift, Aloysius O'Hare, voiced by Rob Riggle, and Grammy Norma, voiced by Betty White. The film was a box office success, although it received mixed reviews.
Ted Wiggins is an idealistic boy, who lives in "Thneedville", a walled city that, aside from the human citizens, is completely artificial; everything is made of plastic, metal, or synthetics with no living plants. Ted has a crush on local environmentalist Audrey, who wants to see a "real tree" more than anything in the world, and decides to find one in order to impress her. His energetic Grammy Norma secretly tells Ted the legend of the Once-ler, who will tell anyone about trees if they brought him fifteen cents, a nail, and a shell of a great-great-great grandfather snail. When Ted leaves Thneedville in search of the Once-ler, he discovers that the outside world is a contaminated, empty wasteland. Once the boy finds him, the Once-ler agrees to tell Ted about the trees on the condition that he listens to the story over multiple visits. Ted agrees, but on his way home, he encounters the mayor of Thneedville, Mr. Aloysius O'Hare, who is also the proprietor of a company that sells bottled oxygen to Thneedville residents. O'Hare explains to Ted that because trees produce oxygen free of charge, he considers it a threat to his business whenever he hears people talking about them. After revealing that he has "security camera eyes" all over the city, O'Hare pressures Ted to stay in town. However, Ted continues to sneak out of O'Hare's sight (with his grandmother's encouragement) and learns more of the trees' history.
Over Ted's various visits, the Once-ler recounts the story that when he was a young man, he departed his family to find good material for his Thneed invention and make a business. After stumbling upon a lush Truffula Tree forest valley, the Once-ler meets the guardian of the forest, the Lorax, after cutting down a Truffula Tree. The Lorax urges the Once-ler to leave the forest, but the Once-ler refuses. Eventually, the Once-ler promises not to chop another tree down, and the two seem to begin a friendship of sorts. Then, the young businessman's Thneed invention becomes a major success and the Once-ler's family arrives to participate in the business. At first keeping his promise, the Once-ler continues Thneed production by harvesting the Truffula Tree tufts in a slow, but sustainable manner. However, his greedy and lazy relatives soon convince him to resume chopping down the trees. Over time, the Once-ler's deforestation spirals into a mass overproduction. Flushed with wealth, the Once-ler rationalizes his short-sighted needs into arrogant self-righteousness, and the Lorax's helpless protests do not stop him. The Once-ler pollutes the sky, river, and landscape, until the very last Truffula Tree falls. With no further chance of business, he is left broken and abandoned by his family, with his mother disowning him, and with the region uninhabitable because of his business's pollution, the Lorax sends the animals off to find a new place to live before he departs into the sky, leaving only a stone-cut word: "Unless". Distraught and ruined, the Once-ler became a recluse.
After he finishes telling his story, the Once-ler finally understands the meaning behind the Lorax's last message, and gives Ted the last Truffula seed in hopes that he can plant it and make others care about real trees once more. Ted's desire to impress Audrey also becomes a personal mission to remind his town of the importance of nature. O'Hare, still determined not to have trees undermine his business, takes heavy-handed steps such as covering Audrey's nature paintings, closing off the door that Ted uses to see the Once-ler, and forcibly searching Ted's room for the seed. Ted enlists his family and Audrey to help plant the seed, which has begun to germinate after water was accidentally spilled on it. O'Hare and his employees pursue the dissidents until they manage to elude him and reach the town center. When Ted finally attempts to plant the seed, he is interrupted by O'Hare, who rallies the population to stop them by telling the people that trees are dangerous and filthy. To convince them otherwise, Ted takes an earthmover and rams down a section of the city wall to reveal the environmental destruction outside, thereby showing them what O'Hare is encouraging. Horrified at the sight and inspired by Ted's conviction (as though a part of the Lorax was within him), the crowd turns against O'Hare when they discover his true nature, his own henchmen expelling him from the town (by his own jet pack-like helmet), and the seed is finally planted. Time passes and the land starts to recover; new trees sprout, the animals begin to return, and the redeemed, now-mustached Once-ler is happily reunited with the Lorax.
- Danny DeVito as the Lorax
- Ed Helms as the Once-ler. Neither the book and TV special reveal the Once-ler's face, but instead throughout the book, the Once-ler is pictured by what appear to be green arms and yellow eyes. The filmmakers used that as the basis for the Once-ler's character design. They interpreted the Once-ler as a human, and also featured his green gloves and showed his face for the first time in this film.
- Zac Efron as Theodore "Ted" Wiggins, an idealistic 12-year-old boy. He is named after the author of the book, Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel).
- Taylor Swift as Audrey, Ted's love interest. She is named after Audrey Geisel, Dr. Seuss' wife.
- Betty White as Grammy Norma, Ted's wise-cracking grandmother.
- Rob Riggle as Mr. Aloysius O'Hare, the mayor of Thneedville and head of the "O'Hare Air" company that supplies fresh air to Thneedville residents.
- Jenny Slate as Mrs. Wiggins, Ted's neurotic mother.
- Nasim Pedrad as the Once-ler's mother
- Stephen Tobolowsky as Uncle Ubb, the Once-ler's uncle.
- Elmarie Wendel as Aunt Grizelda, the Once-ler's aunt.
- Danny Cooksey as Brett and Chet, the Once-ler's twin brothers.
The film is the fourth feature film based on a book by Dr. Seuss, the second fully computer-animated Dr. Seuss adaptation (the first one being Horton Hears a Who!), and the first to be released in 3-D. The Lorax was also Illumination's first film presented in IMAX 3D (known as "IMAX Tree-D" in publicity for the film). The idea for the film was initiated by Audrey Geisel, Dr. Seuss' wife, who had an established partnership with Chris Meledandri, the producer of the film, from a collaboration on Horton Hears a Who!. Geisel approached Meledandri when he launched Illumination Entertainment, saying "This is the one I want to do next". The film was officially announced in July 2009, with Meledandri attached as the producer and Geisel as the executive producer. Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda were announced as the director and co-director of the film, whileCinco Paul and Ken Daurio, the duo who wrote the script for Horton Hears a Who!, were set to write the screenplay. In 2010, it was announced that Danny DeVito would be voicing the titular character.
The film was fully produced at the French studio "Illumination Mac Guff", which was the animation department of Mac Guff which was acquired by Illumination Entertainment in the summer of 2011. DeVito reprised his role in five different languages, including the original English audio, and also for the Spanish, Italian, German, and Russian language dub editions. Universal added an environmental message to the film's website after a fourth-grade class in Brookline, Massachusetts launched a successful petition through Change.org.
- This is the first Illumination film composed by John Powell.
- This is the first Illumination's musical film, followed by Sing, The Grinch and Sing 2.
- The sixth Universal's animated musical film, after An American Tail, Jetsons: The Movie, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story and The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie.
- This is the first computer animated film by Illumination Mac Guff.
- This is the first Dr. Seuss' animated film to be rated PG by the MPAA.
- The second Universal's animated theatrical film to be rated PG by the MPAA, after Despicable Me.
- Nasim Pedrad voices the Once-ler's mother. Pedrad will later voice Jillian in Despicable Me 2.
- This is the first Dr. Seuss' film produced by Illumination. The second adaptation being The Grinch.
- The film premiered on March 2, 2012 - Dr. Seuss' 108th birthday.
- When playing board games with the family, Grammy Norma makes the word "Lorax" with the scrabble balls she has.
- The characters of Ted and Audrey are named after Dr. Seuss (whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel) and his second wife, Audrey Geisel.
- This is the only Illumination film to feature Universal's 100th Anniversary logo.
- This was the 11th biggest grossing film of 2012.
- Unlike the original book, the Once-ler is shown fully in the story as a human. According to Chris Meledandri, "The minute you make the Once-ler a monster, you allow the audience to interpret that the problem is caused by somebody who is different from me, and it ceases to be a story that is about all of us. Then it's a story about, 'Oh I see, the person who led us into the predicament is not a person. It's somebody very, very different.' And so it takes you off the hook."
- While Ted gathers the items needed to see the Once-ler. A minion figurine can be briefly seen.
- Also, Ted's sneakers brand are "Gru's Shoes", with a minion as the logo.
- The second Illumination film to begin with the opening credits, after Hop.
- This is the second Illumination film to use profanity after Hop (which once used the word "cripple" when referring to a handicapped person and used God's name in vain twice); O'Hare once mutters "damn" during the chase scene near the end. This was the only noted reason for the film's PG rating from the MPAA. However, if there was no profanity being used in the film, then it would have been rated G.