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The Lorax (2012)

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The Lorax
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I am the Lorax and I speak for the trees.
They ruined my movie, as you can see.
- The Lorax
Genre: Animated
Musical
Fantasy
Comedy
Directed By: Chris Renaud
Produced By: Chris Meledandri
Janet Healy
Written By: Cinco Paul
Ken Daurio
Based On: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Starring: Danny DeVito
Ed Helms
Zac Efron
Taylor Swift
Rob Riggle
Jenny Slate
Betty White
Distributed By: Universal Pictures
Release Date: March 2, 2012
Runtime: 86 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $70 million
Box Office: $348.8 million


The Lorax (also known as Dr. Seuss' The Lorax) is a 2012 American 3D computer-animated musical fantasy comedy film produced by Illumination Entertainment and based on Dr. Seuss' children's book of the same name. The second adaptation of the book (following the 1972 animated television special), the film builds on the book by expanding the story of the Lorax and 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, Ted's love interest (voiced by Taylor Swift), Aloysius O'Hare, an evil air baron (voiced by Rob Riggle), Mrs. Wiggins, Ted's mother (voiced by Jenny Slate), and Grammy Norma, Ted's grandmother (voiced by Betty White). The film was released by Universal Pictures on March 2, 2012, on Universal Pictures' 100th Anniversary; as well as what would have been Seuss's 108th birthday.

Plot

Twelve-year-old Ted (Zac Efron) lives in a place virtually devoid of nature; no flowers or trees grow in the town of Thneedville. Ted would very much like to win the heart of Audrey (Taylor Swift), the girl of his dreams, but to do this, he must find what she most desires: a Truffula Tree. To get it, Ted delves into the story of the Lorax (Danny DeVito), once the gruff guardian of the forest, and the Once-ler (Ed Helms), who let greed overtake his respect for nature. Unfortunately, he finds himself hounded by the wealthy mayor of Thneedville, O'Hare (Rob Riggle), who has no intention of leaving any traces of the Lorax's world.

Bad Qualities

  1. The major problem with this movie is that it goes against the original book by turning the story into a light-hearted familiar film with childish comedy elements instead of a dark and interesting tale with an important message like the original book and Friz Freleng special, which is unnecessarily changed. If they would've let the original dark tone, the movie might have actually worked and it easily could've become a masterpiece.
  2. The film has no real direction or main plot: At first the story is about Ted wanting to find a tree to impress Audrey, then most of the movie is dedicated to the Once-ler's flashbacks, and by the end it's about Ted having to stop O'Hare and plant the tree in the town. Not to mention that there's no real main character in the film, as it is between Ted, the Lorax and the Once-ler.
    • In fact, the subplot of Ted and his attempt to impress Audrey is completely pointless and hard to pay attention to as the Once-Ler's flashbacks take up a good chunk of the film.
  3. Several unlikable characters:
    1. Ted was flanderized into a generic boy who falls for a girl and tries to impress her by planting a tree.
    2. Audrey is stale as burnt toast, as she's a generic love interest.
    3. Aloysius O'Hare is obviously a weak villain. On top of this, none of the stuff involving him was necessary and only exists so the writers could find an excuse to make the book into a film.
      • On that topic, his character design looks pretty ugly and uncanny as well as a rip-off of Edna Mode from Pixar's The Incredibles, but without glasses; and on top of that, he follows the lame stereotype of the big bad guy who happens to be short height.
    4. The Lorax, despite being likable, is an absolute downgrade from his normal self in this movie, as he's made into a pointless comic relief character like the other animals, despite his attempts to save the forest.
    5. The Once-ler's family are much more unlikable, as they didn't care about the Once-ler until he became rich, then later in the film when his company went bankrupt, they abandoned the Once-ler and took his money and were never seen again in the film after that. This could have been a good idea for having a family, but the execution is poor, with the family being too cartoonish and very annoying.
    6. Almost all of the forest animals are made into obnoxious Minions-like comic reliefs, which once again goes against what the book was trying to convey.
    7. And perhaps the most notorious example, is the film's infamous portrayal of the Once-ler: In this film, the Once-ler is just a loud, obnoxious man who once again goes against the original tone of the book since he was meant to represent corporations. On top of that, the movie expects us to sympathize with him at first; however, this later becomes impossible because in the middle of the story, he literally becomes the villain by being responsible for the destruction of the entire forest, the air pollution in Thneedville, and the departure of the animals after having ignored the Lorax's warnings.
  4. Some have argued that the O'Hare SAVED Thneedville from the destruction the Once-ler and his family caused, which is counterintuitive to the message.
  5. Incorrect casting choices: Both Zac Efron and Taylor Swift (out of all people) are miscast as Ted and Audrey as they sound way too old for their ages.
  6. The songs, while not terrible, are unnecessary and kind of annoying, and they sound like they weren't written by professionals.
  7. This infamous commercial. The movie's message is to show that protecting the environment is good, however in this commercial, it's the polar opposite; saying it's good to do air-pollution in the said marketing car commercial.
  8. One missed opportunity of the film being a musical is that the film cast two legitimate singers, Zac Efron and Taylor Swift, and yet they voice the only two characters in the film who don't get a song, as most of them either go to the Once-ler and the townsfolk of Thneedville.
  9. One of the biggest, and we mean biggest, mistakes of the film was cutting out the "Biggering" song. It's easily one of the greatest villain songs ever made and it's much better than "How Bad Can I Be?". It's not oblivious and innocent, it's consciously evil and obsessive and that's the point the original book wanted to make so badly. In the storyboard made for the film, the transformation of the Once-ler into a greedy and evil man is shown in a subtle but intense way not to mention that it also features a badass speech from the Lorax in which you realize that he isn't just trying to save the trees, he's trying to save the Once-ler.
    • The idea that this song is "too dark for kids" is absolutely nonsensical. If people look back at The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the song "Hellfire" with nostalgia, with people still talking about how great that song is, then Illumination had no excuse to cut this. Kids can handle way more than what you think, and corporations need to stop treating them like idiots.
      • Illumination, as we know, is materialistic: Making sequels to its famous movies to get more money, and therefore, get bigger. With this, it is probable that Illumination did not want to uncover "so much", to which they also decide to discard the song. Illumination knew what they were doing. A children's film sells more than one for mature people.
    • "Who cares if some things are dying?" is a whole lot scarier and hits more close to reality, than "Who cares if a few trees are dying?"
    • Arguably, the reason they cut out this song is because it makes a redemption for the Once-ler absolutely impossible. In the movie, he's not aware of the damage he causes until the end of his song. In "Biggering", it's clear that he was always aware of the evil he caused, no matter what died; either plants, humans, animals, nothing. All he cared about was feeding his greed, and with it, his ego as the Lorax explains. In general, all this already makes the song very dark, and if it were to continue, the whole plot would be VERY different, in addition to being more faithful to the original book.
    • Even the song pointed out that you can't blame greed alone. What fuels greed to such extreme levels isn't just the money, it's much deeper than that. It's a worm called pride. It's the feeling you get after you rationalize to yourself that "it's not your fault, they're wrong, you're right". That feeling you get after you have achieved something great and don't want anyone to ruin it for you. That feeling you get makes you feel like you deserve more. Whether it be through suffering or success you feel like your earned something. Combine that with greed is when you have the receipt for disaster that we commonly associate when we think of "corporate greed".
  10. This film had the chance to be timeless with an ambiguous ending. But instead of this, they decided to go with the happy ending. The scene that should have been the end is pinpointed here: After the Once-Ler gives Ted the seed and says his lines, Ted drives off, leaving the ending a mystery.
  11. Plot hole: If the Once-ler still has the last Truffula Seed, couldn't he just plant it in himself? Yes, this was in the original book, but still. Think about it, if he had, the Truffula Trees would have grown back and he wouldn't have run out of material and therefore out of business.
    • The possible reason for this was he wanted to see if people cared about the environment, but he still should've planted it because there could've been an extreme health hazard.

Good Qualities

  1. The songs do have their upsides:
    • "Let it Grow", for example, is admittedly catchy.
    • "How Bad Can I Be?" is also pretty great as well, despite being a depiction.
    • "Thneedville", despite it being about an artificial and environmentally harmful city, is admittedly funny and catchy.
    • The aforementioned "Biggering" is also the best example.
  2. The animation is well-made, which is expected for Illumination and their films.
    • On top of that, the art style is pretty faithful to the book, especially the buildings and some of the character designs.
    • Speaking of the character designs, most of them are very good, with the exception of the Once-ler.
  3. Despite Ted and Audrey being miscast by Zac Efron and Taylor Swift, the voice acting is at least decent, for example, Ed Helms does a great voice work as the Once-Ler especially in the songs. Danny DeVito was also a great choice to voice the Lorax himself.
  4. Some likable characters such as Granny, Pipsqueak, the O'Hare's guards, Cy the O'Hare delivery guy, and the Lorax himself (despite his absolute downgrade).
  5. There are some good funny moments here and there, such as Ted getting hit in the rear from a boot contraction when at the Once-ler's house, Cy the O'Hare delivery guy falling into a manhole when he's singing in the "Thneedville" musical song scene, and the lines; "You greedy dirtbag!" and "Let it die, let it die, let it shrivel up and... come on, who's with me?"
  6. John Powell's musical score is decent.
  7. "I'm gonna eat this... but I'm highly offended by it." - The Lorax
  8. There are many entertaining and moving moments.
  9. The ending is heartwarming, despite not being in the original book.
  10. When the film has a dark tone (particularly when Ted is driving outside Thneedville), it is a nice touch of the book.

Reception

Critical response

The Lorax received mixed reviews from critics and audiences, who praised its animation, musical score, and voice acting but criticized its characters and marketing for betraying the original message of the book while the faithfulness to the source material and songs received polarizing reactions. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, The Lorax holds an approval rating of 54% based on 157 reviews, with an average rating of 5.90/10, while the audiences' rating was 63%. The site's critical consensus reads, "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax is cute and funny enough but the moral simplicity of the book gets lost with the zany Hollywood production values." On Metacritic, the film achieved a score of 46 out of 100 based on reviews from 30 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".

Box office

The Lorax has grossed $214 million in North America, and $134.8 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $348.8 million, making it box-office success.

The Lorax topped the North American box office with $17.5 million on its opening day (Friday, March 2, 2012). During the weekend, it grossed $70.2 million, easily beating the other new nationwide release, Project X ($21 million), and all other films. This was the biggest opening for an Illumination Entertainment film, and for a feature film adaptation of a book by Dr. Seuss, as well as the second-largest for an environmentalist film. It also scored the third-best debut for a film opening in March, and the eighth-best of all time for an animated film. The Lorax stayed at #1 the following weekend, dropping 45% to $38.8 million and beating all new nationwide releases, including Disney's John Carter (second place). On April 11, 2012, it became the first animated film in nearly a year to gross more than $200 million in North America, since Walt Disney Animation Studios' Tangled.

Marketing controversy

Despite the original Lorax being made as a critique of capitalism and pollution, Mazda used the likeness of The Lorax's setting and characters in an advertisement for their CX-5 SUV. This was seen by some as the complete opposite of the work's original meaning. In response, Stephanie Sperber, president of Universal Partnerships and Licensing, said Universal chose to partner with the Mazda CX-5 because it is "a really good choice for consumers to make who may not have the luxury or the money to buy electric or buy hybrid. It's a way to take the better environmental choice to everyone."

The film has also been used to sell Seventh Generation disposable diapers. In total, Illumination Entertainment struck more than 70 different product integration deals for the film.

Videos

Trivia

  • This was Elmarie Wendel's last film before her death in 2018.
  • This was the first film to use the current Universal Pictures logo with the "A Comcast Company" byline (although trailers, posters and TV spots for it had the 1997 - 2012 logo).
  • The song, "Biggering" was planned to replace the song, "How Bad Can I Be?". However, Illumination thought it was too "dark" and "scary", so it wasn't included in the final version. However, the official soundtrack includes "Biggering" for some reason.
  • The film is the fourth feature film based on a book by Dr Seuss, the second fully computer-animated adaptation (the first one being Horton Hears a Who!), and the first to be released in 3D. The Lorax was also Illumination's first film presented in IMAX 3D (known as "IMAX Tree-D" in publicity for the film).
  • The song, "Let it Grow" became an Internet meme in December 2016.
    • In fact, all the songs from this film have become memes.
  • This marks the first Dr. Seuss film to be distributed by Universal Pictures since The Cat in the Hat in 2003.
  • The characters of Ted and Audrey are named after Dr Seuss (whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel) and his second wife Audrey Geisel.
  • In Despicable Me (2010), Margo wore a Lorax shirt as a possible teaser to this film. A similar thing occurred in Despicable Me 3 (2017) where she wore a Grinch shirt as a teaser to another Dr. Seuss film from Illumation, The Grinch (2018).
  • The film was fully produced at the French studio Illumination Mac Guff, which was the animation department of Mac Guff, acquired by Illumination Entertainment in the summer of 2011.
  • Danny DeVito also reprises his role as the Lorax in 5 dubs (European Spanish, Latin American Spanish, Italian, German, Russian).
  • O'Hare uses the phrase "damn it" after Ted, Audrey, and Grammy get into the elevator. That's the reason why the movie is rated PG.
  • The idea for the film was initiated by Audrey Geisel, Dr. Seuss's 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."
  • Blockdot created a mobile puzzle game based on the film, titled Truffula Shuffula. The game was released on February 1, 2012, for iOS and Android platforms.
  • This film was originally on the Greatest Movies Wiki, but due to the mixed reviews, it was removed from said wiki in the end of 2020.

External links

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