|The Lorax (film)|
|Released||April 1, 2012|
|Directed by|| Chris Renaud|
|Starring|| Danny DeVito|
The Lorax is a 2012 American 3-D comedy film based on Dr. Seuss' children's book of the same name. It was produced by Illumination Entertainment and was released by Universal Pictures on April 1, 2012, what would have been the 108th birthday of Seuss, who died at age 87 in the year.
The film is the fourth feature film based on a book by Dr. Seuss, the second Dr. Seuss adaptation fully computer-animated after Horton Hears a Who!, and the first to be released in 3-D. The Lorax was Illumination Entertainment's first film presented in IMAX 3D (jokingly called "IMAX Tree-D" in the trailers). It was also the Dr. Seuss feature films in 3-D released by Universal, after How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat.
Ted Wiggins, an idealistic 12-year-old boy, lives in "Thneed-Ville", a walled city that, aside from the citizens, is completely artificial. He sets out to find the one thing that will win him the affection of Audrey, the girl of his dreams, who wishes to see a real tree. Ted's energetic grandmother suggests he speak with the Once-ler on the matter, and he discovers that their city has been closed off from the outside world, which is a contaminated and empty wasteland. The Once-ler agrees to tell Ted about the trees if he listens to his story over multiple visits. Ted agrees, even after the mayor of Thneed-Ville, Aloysius O'Hare, the greedy proprietor of a bottled oxygen company, confronts the boy and pressures him to stay in town. O'Hare tells Ted that he makes a lot of money by selling oxygen, but trees make it for free. He also says that whenever he hears anyone in the city talking about them, he considers it a threat to his business, before he reveals that he has secret cameras all over the city.
Over the visits, the Once-ler recounts the story of how he met the Lorax, a grumpy yet charming creature who serves as guardian of the land he arrived in and actively resists his logging until the Once-ler agrees to desist. When the young businessman introduces a revolutionary invention from the native Truffula Tree's tufts, the thneed, it eventually becomes a major success and the Once-ler's family is brought in to participate in the business. Keeping his promise at first, Once-ler continues thneed production by harvesting the tufts themselves in a sustainable manner. Unfortunately, his greedy and lazy relatives convinced him to resume logging as a more efficient gathering method, and the destruction of the forest spirals into a mass overproduction. Flush with wealth, the Once-ler rationalized his short sighted greed into an arrogant self-righteousness that even co-opts the helpless protests of the Lorax for his own ends. As a result, he completely depleted the forest while making the region uninhabitable with his business' pollution. With that, the Once-ler was left ruined and abandoned by his family and became a recluse with the creation and isolation of Ted's town that came under Mr. O'Hare's control. Eventually, the Lorax sends the wildlife (and Melvin the Once-ler's mule) away before departing himself, leaving a stonecut word, "Unless."
At the end of the story, Ted is inspired by the Once-ler's gift of the last Truffula Seed to plant it to remind his town of the importance of nature. Unfortunately, O'Hare is still determined to not have trees takeover his business and takes heavy handed steps such as ruining Audrey's nature paintings, sealing the door Ted uses to leave town and visit the Once-ler, and forcibly searching Ted's room for the seed. Ted is undeterred and enlists his family and Audrey to help plant the seed. O'Hare and his employees pursue the dissidents until they manage to elude him and reach the town center. Unfortunately, their attempt to plant the seed is interrupted by O'Hare who rallies the population to stop them by telling the people that the trees are dangerous, filthy, and can cause a bad environment in the city. To convince them otherwise, Ted takes an earthmover and rams down a section of the city wall to reveal the environmental destruction outside. Horrified at the sight and inspired by Ted's conviction, the crowd defies O'Hare, with his own henchmen expelling him from town. The seed is planted and Audrey kisses Ted on the cheek.
At the Once-ler's house, the Truffula forest is beginning to recover with the Once-ler's participation and the Lorax returns, pleased that his friend is undoing the harm he caused. The Once-ler, overcome with joy that his friend has returned, embraces him. Before the credits roll, a message appears on-screen that reads "UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. Dr. Seuss"
- Zac Efron as Ted Wiggins, an idealistic 12-year-old boy and the film's main protagonist. He is named after Theodor Seuss Geisel, Dr. Seuss's real name.
- Taylor Swift as Audrey, Ted's love interest who has a fascination for nature. She is named after Audrey Geisel, Dr. Seuss's widow.
- Rob Riggle as Aloysius O'Hare, the mayor of Thneed-Ville, the main antagonist, and head of the "O'Hare Air" company that supplies fresh air to Thneed-Ville residents.
- Ed Helms as the Once-ler, an old man who recounts how his discovery of the Truffula Forest as a younger man led to its depletion. In the film, he is portrayed as a human, while the original book and television special left his species ambiguous and his face hidden.
- Danny DeVito as the Lorax, a grumpy yet charming miniature orange creature with yellow eyebrows and a mustache.
- Betty White as Grammy Norma, Ted's grandmother.
- Jenny Slate as Mrs. Wiggins, Ted's mother.
- Stephen Tobolowsky as Uncle Ubb, the Once-ler's uncle.
- Nasim Pedrad as the Once-ler's mother.
- Danny Cooksey as Brett and Chet, the Once-ler's brothers.
A movie based of the original Lorax had been since July 2009 by Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment. In 2010, it was announced that Danny DeVito would be voicing the title character. The trailer debuted in Australia in November 2011.
The film was directed by Chris Renaud, and co-directed by Kyle Balda. It was written by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul, the duo who also wrote the script for Blue Sky's Horton Hears a Who!. Audrey Geisel, Seuss's wife, was executive producer, and Chris Meledandri, who managed Horton Hears a Who! at Fox Animation, produced the film.
The film was fully fabricated in the French studio "Illumination Mac Guff", which was the animation department of Mac Guff which has been acquired by Illumination Entertainment in Summer 2011.
Danny DeVito reprised his role in five different languages, including English, Spanish, Italian, German, and Russian.
The Lorax received a PG rating "for brief mild language." It is the third PG-rated Dr. Seuss film, following How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat.
It was also the first Universal Pictures Animated film to include the 2012 "100th Anniversary" logo with a re-orchested version of the 1997 theme by Jerry Goldsmith, re-orchested by Brian Tyler.
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.
The film received mixed reviews from critics, with criticism directed towards the film and its marketing as betraying the original message of the book. The film earned a "rotten" rating of 56% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 89 reviews, with the critical consensus saying, "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax is cute and funny enough but the moral simplicity of the book gets lost with the zany Hollywood production values." It also has a score of 47 on Metacritic based on 28 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
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 a perversion of the work's original meaning. 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.
New York Magazine film critic David Edelstein on NPR's "All Things Considered" strongly objected to the movie, arguing that the Hollywood animation and writing formulas washed out the spirit of the book. "This kind of studio 3-D feature animation is all wrong for the material," he wrote. Demonstrating the poor way the book's text was used in the movie -- how modern cultural styles were pasted over the text -- in this excerpt from the review Edelstein shows Audrey describing the truffula trees to Ted:
- "the touch of their tufts was softer than anything, even silk and they smelled like butterfly milk." -- and (in the movie) Ted says "Wow, what does that even mean?" and Audrey says "I know, right?" So one of the only lines that is from the book, that does have Dr. Seuss' sublime whimsy, is basically made fun of, or at least, dragged down to Earth.
Some conservatives have attacked the film for having a strong environmentalist message. Lou Dobbs, the host of Lou Dobbs Tonight on the Fox Business Network, has criticized the film as being "insidious nonsense from Hollywood," and accused "Hollywood of trying to indoctrinate children."
Conservatives were not alone in criticizing the movie's message. Charlie Jane Anders of science fiction site io9 wrote of the film's environmental message, "I'm pretty darn liberal, and I still wanted this movie to shut up and stop lecturing me." Her review, titled "A Movie Whose Heart Is 9 Sizes Too Small", also recommended the Pixar film WALL-E as the film's ideological predecessor and superior, writing, "People should just rent WALL-E instead. Seriously, If you want a fun animated romp with a message about saving the environment and some anti-corporate satire... rent WALL-E. Everything The Lorax fails to do, WALL-E already pulled off."
The film topped the North American box office with $17.53 million on its opening day (Friday, March 2, 2012). During the weekend, it grossed $70.22 million easily beating the other new nationwide release, Project X, 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.
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