The Lorax (film)

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The Lorax
Lorax teaser poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChris Renaud
Screenplay byCinco Paul
Ken Daurio
Based onThe Lorax
by Dr. Seuss
Produced by
Edited by
Music byJohn Powell[1]
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release dates
Running time
86 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
Budget$70 million[4]
Box office$348.8 million[4]

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 distributed by Universal Pictures. The second screen adaptation of Dr. Seuss' children's book of the same name following the 1972 animated television special, the film was directed by Chris Renaud, co-directed by Kyle Balda (in his feature directorial debut), and produced by Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy, with Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul, and Seuss' widow Audrey Geisel serving as executive producers. Paul and Daurio also wrote the film’s screenplay. The film stars the voices of Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Rob Riggle, Jenny Slate, and Betty White.[5] It builds on the book by expanding the story of the Lorax and Ted, the previously unnamed boy who visits the Once-ler.

The film had its world premiere at Universal Studios in Los Angeles on February 19, 2012, and was theatrically released in the United States by Universal Pictures on March 2, 2012, which would have been Seuss's 108th birthday. It received mixed reviews from critics who praised its animation, musical score, and voice acting but criticized its characters. It also received backlash for its marketing, noting its contradictions to the book's message. The film grossed $348.8 million worldwide on a $70 million budget.[4]


A 12-year-old boy named Ted Wiggins lives in Thneedville, a walled city where all vegetation and plant life is artificial. Ted has a crush on a girl named Audrey and decides to impress her with a "real tree". His grandmother Norma tells him the legend of the Once-ler, who knows what happened to the trees. Leaving Thneedville in search of the Once-ler, Ted discovers that the outside world is a barren, contaminated wasteland. He finds the elderly Once-ler. After an argument, the Once-ler agrees to tell Ted the story of the trees over multiple visits. The next time he leaves home, Ted encounters Thneedville's greedy mayor, Aloysius O'Hare, whose company sells bottled oxygen to the polluted city. Explaining that trees and the oxygen they produce freely pose a threat to his business, O'Hare pressures Ted to stay in town, but Ted continues to visit the Once-ler.

The Once-ler recounts how, as a young inventor, he arrived in a lush forest of animals and Truffula trees. Cutting down a tree, he was confronted by the Lorax, the guardian of the forest who "speaks for the trees". After attempting to force the Once-ler out, the Lorax convinced him not to cut down any more trees. Using the Truffula fibers, the Once-ler created the "Thneed", a knitted article with multiple uses, which became a major success. He harvested the Truffula tufts in a sustainable manner, until his unscrupulous relatives persuaded him to resume chopping down trees to speed up production, leading to enormous profits, but also deforestation and pollution. After harvesting the last Truffula tree, the Once-ler was ruined, abandoned by his family, and became a recluse. The Once-ler was left heartbroken and unbearably guilty for destroying the forest. With the region uninhabitable, the Lorax sent the animals away to find a new place to live, and vanished into the sky. The Lorax left a single word on a small pile of rocks: "Unless".

The Once-ler gives Ted the last Truffula seed in the hopes he can regrow the forest and make others care about trees. Ted returns home to plant the seed, but is spotted by O'Hare's city-wide surveillance. Enlisting the help of Audrey and his family, Ted is pursued by O'Hare to the center of town. O'Hare rallies the citizens against Ted, telling them that trees are dangerous and filthy. The townsfolk approach Ted, but he, Audrey, and Norma use an earthmover to knock down a section of the city wall, revealing the environmental desolation outside. Inspired by Ted's conviction, the crowd later turns on O'Hare, whose henchmen strap a jetpack-like helmet to him, causing him to fly away in defeat, and the seed is finally planted.

As time passes, the land begins to recover. New trees sprout, animals return, and the Once-ler reunites with the Lorax. The film ends with a quote from Dr. Seuss: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."

Voice cast[edit]

  • Danny DeVito as The Lorax, a mystical orange furry creature with a yellow moustache, who protects the truffula forest[6]
  • Ed Helms as The Once-ler, a reclusive old man and former inventor[6]
  • Zac Efron as Theodore "Ted" Wiggins, an idealistic 12-year-old boy.[7] He is named after the author of the book, Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel)[8]
  • Taylor Swift as Audrey, Ted's love interest.[1] She is named after Audrey Geisel, Dr. Seuss's wife[8]
  • Rob Riggle as Aloysius O'Hare, the diminutive and greedy mayor of Thneedville and head of the "O'Hare Air" company that supplies fresh air to Thneedville residents[6]
  • Jenny Slate as Mrs. Wiggins, Ted's neurotic mother and Grammy Norma's daughter[9]
  • Betty White as Grammy Norma, Ted's wise-cracking grandmother and Mrs. Wiggins's mother[1]
  • Nasim Pedrad as Isabella, 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. This was Wendel's final film role before her death on July 21, 2018
  • Danny Cooksey as Brett and Chet, the Once-ler's twin brothers
  • Joel Swetow as 1st Marketing Guy
  • Michael Beattie as 2nd Marketing Guy
  • Dave B. Mitchell as 1st Commercial Guy
  • Dempsey Pappion as 2nd Commercial Guy
  • Chris Renaud as assorted forest animals


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).[10] 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".[11] 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, while Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, the duo who wrote the script for Horton Hears a Who!, were set to write the screenplay.[12] In 2010, it was announced that Danny DeVito would be voicing the Lorax character.[13]

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.[14] DeVito reprised his role in five different languages, including the original English audio, and also for the Russian language, German, Italian, Catalan/Valencian, and Castillan Spanish And Latin Spanish dub editions, learning his lines phonetically.[15] Universal added an environmental message to the film's website after a fourth-grade class in Brookline, Massachusetts, launched a successful petition through[16]


The film was released on March 2, 2012, in the United States and Canada. It was later released on July 27, 2012 in the United Kingdom. It was also the first film to feature the current Universal Pictures logo, with a rearranged version of the fanfare, originally composed by Jerry Goldsmith and arranged by Brian Tyler, as part of the studio's 100th anniversary.

Marketing controversy[edit]

Despite the original Lorax being made as a critique of capitalism and pollution,[17][18][19] Mazda used the likeness of The Lorax's setting and characters in an advertisement for their CX-5 SUV.[20] This was seen by some as the complete opposite of the work's original meaning.[21] 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."[22]

The film has also been used to sell Seventh Generation disposable diapers.[23] In total, Illumination Entertainment struck more than 70 different product integration deals for the film.[24]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on August 7, 2012.


Three mini-movies were released on the Lorax Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack on August 7, 2012: Serenade, Wagon Ho!, and Forces of Nature.[25]


Lou wants to impress a girl Barbaloot, but he has some competition.

Wagon Ho!

The Once-ler arrives with his wagon and Melvin. Then Pipsqueak and Lou arrive. The Once-ler tells them not to have joyrides. When the Once-ler goes inside his house, Pipsqueak and Lou start cranking up the wagon, but Melvin refuses to pull it because he is angry that they whipped the reins. So Pipsqueak hangs a Truffula fruit in front of Melvin as an incentive. However, Melvin gets exhausted going up a steep hill. Then the wagon gets unhooked from Melvin, and it rolls downhill backwards while Pipsqueak and Lou scream in terror. Melvin chases the runaway wagon. Lou tries to stop the wagon by stabbing a stick in one of its wheels, but he gets stuck on the wheel instead. Finally, he lands back on the seat next to Pipsqueak, who hugs him happily. The wagon hits a rock and is propelled downhill even faster. When it approaches a cliff, Pipsqueak panics and grabs the wagon canopy, which flies off—only to be held in place by Lou. The wagon flies off the cliff, but the canopy acts as a parachute and they make their descent calmly, landing in the same place they left. Melvin appears shortly after. The Once-ler comes out of the house and is surprised to see them. He expresses surprise that they listened to instructions, but just when it seems like they fooled him, Lou sneezes and the wagon falls apart. Melvin hides beneath his hooves and Lou and Pipsqueak curl up into a ball. The Once-ler looks angry by growling, causing Lou and Pipsqueak to run away into the trees.

Forces of Nature

The Lorax makes Pipsqueak an Honorary Lorax and they team up to scare the Once-ler by using two sticks that looks like a monster's hand to freak him out. The Once-ler finds out it is fake and sprays water on the Lorax, which makes his fur puff up. When the Lorax tells Pipsqueak that he is going to turn out like him, Pipsqueak gets scared and runs away. The short ends with the Lorax telling Pipsqueak that he has lost his Honorary Lorax title.

Video game[edit]

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.[26]


Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, The Lorax holds an approval rating of 54% based on 157 reviews, with an average rating of 5.9/10. 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."[27] On Metacritic, the film achieved a score of 46 out of 100 based on reviews from 30 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[28] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[29]

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.[30] "This kind of studio 3-D feature animation is all wrong for the material," he wrote. Demonstrating how the book's text was used in the movie in this excerpt from the review, Edelstein discusses Audrey describing the truffula trees to Ted:

The touch of their tufts was much softer than silk and they had the sweet smell of fresh 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.

The film also garnered some positive reviews from critics such as Richard Roeper, who called it a "solid piece of family entertainment".[31] Roger Moore of the Pittsburgh Tribune called the film "a feast of bright, Seuss colors, and wonderful Seuss design", and supported its environmentalist message.[32]

Box office[edit]

The film grossed $214 million in North America, and $134.8 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $348.8 million.[4]

The film topped the North American box office with $17.5 million on its opening day (Friday, March 2, 2012).[33] During the weekend, it grossed $70.2 million, easily beating the other new nationwide release, Project X ($21 million), and all other films.[34] This was the biggest opening for an Illumination Entertainment film,[35] and for a feature film adaptation of a book by Dr. Seuss,[36] as well as the second-largest for an environmentalist film.[37] It also scored the third-best debut for a film opening in March,[38] and the eighth-best of all time for an animated film.[39] The Lorax stayed at No. 1 the following weekend, dropping 45% to $38.8 million and beating all new nationwide releases, including Disney's John Carter (second place).[40]

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.[41][42]


Dr. Seuss' The Lorax: Original Motion Picture Score
Soundtrack album by
LabelInterscope, Back Lot Music
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax: Original Songs from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedFebruary 28, 2012
GenreSoundtrack, pop
LabelInterscope, Back Lot Music
Music video (film sequence)
"How Bad Can I Be?" on YouTube
Music video (film sequence)
"Let It Grow" on YouTube

The soundtrack for the film was composed by John Powell, who had previously composed the score for Horton Hears a Who!, and the songs were written by Cinco Paul.[43] There were two soundtrack albums released for the film. One being John Powell's film score and the other being the original songs written by John Powell and Cinco Paul performed by various artists. Original songs written for the film include "Thneedville", "This is the Place", "Everybody Needs a Thneed", "How Bad Can I Be?", and "Let It Grow".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Goldberg, Matt (March 17, 2011). "Taylor Swift Joins Voice Cast of THE LORAX; New Image Released". Collider. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  2. ^ "Dr Seuss' The Lorax (2012)". British Film Institute. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  3. ^ "DR. SEUSS' THE LORAX (U)". British Board of Film Classification. May 4, 2012. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  5. ^ "The Lorax". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Breznican, Anthony (October 25, 2010). "First look: Danny DeVito will stump for trees in 3-D 'Lorax'". USA Today. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  7. ^ Sharlette (March 5, 2012). "CINEMA WITH SHARLETTE: 'THE LORAX'". Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved June 15, 2013. In the 3D-CG version of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, we focus on Ted Wiggins, a 12-year-old boy in search of a living tree for the girl he adores.
  8. ^ a b Radish, Christina (January 30, 2012). "10 Things to Know About DR. SEUSS' THE LORAX From Our Editing Room Visit; Plus an Interview with Producer Chris Meledandri". Retrieved January 30, 2012.
  9. ^ Sytsma, Alan (October 29, 2010). "Jenny Slate Throws Epic Engagement Parties, Starts Every Morning With Coffee in Bed". New York Magazine. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
  10. ^ "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax: An IMAX 3D Experience". IMAX. Archived from the original on October 29, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  11. ^ Debruge, Peter (July 17, 2013). "Illumination Chief Chris Meledandri Lines Up Originals for Universal". Variety. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  12. ^ Fleming, Michael (July 28, 2009). "U, Illumination to light up 'Lorax'". Variety. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  13. ^ Puchko, Kristy (October 25, 2010). "Danny DeVito Will Speak For the Trees as The Lorax". The Film Stage. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  14. ^ "ILLUMINATION MAC GUFF". Societe. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  15. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (May 20, 2017). "Actor, Dub Thyself: Daniel Brühl & Danny DeVito On Joy In Voicing Themselves — Cannes". Deadline. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  16. ^ Kristof, Nicholas (February 5, 2012). "After Recess: Change the World". The New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  17. ^ Rebecca L. Hahn (2008). ""But Business is Business, and Business Must Grow": A Take on The Lorax". The Oswald Review. 10.
  18. ^ Muhammad Isyraqy Putra. "The Role of Mode of Production Depicted in Dr. Seuss' The Lorax Movie" (PDF). Retrieved January 24, 2021.
  19. ^ Schmidt, Casey (January 2015). "The Lorax : Capitalism, Ecocentrism, and the Apocalypse". Honors Theses.
  20. ^ "Mazda C5-X and Dr Seuss' The Lorax". YouTube. Archived from the original on February 18, 2012. Retrieved February 27, 2012.
  21. ^ "Are You Shitting Me?: The Lorax Used to Sell SUVs". Badass Digest. Retrieved February 27, 2012.
  22. ^ Rome, Emily (March 1, 2012). "'The Lorax' targeted for its green credentials". Los Angeles Times.
  23. ^ "A Bad Marketing The Lorax and Disposable Diapers Really??". DirtyDiaperLaundry. February 24, 2012. Retrieved February 27, 2012.
  24. ^ "Fake Lorax Twitter Mocks the Film's Many Marketing Tie-ins". The Hollywood Reporter. March 2, 2012.
  25. ^ "From Universal Studios Home Entertainment: Dr. Seuss' The Lorax". PR Newswire. June 5, 2012. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  26. ^ Blockdot (February 1, 2012). "Blockdot Launches Game for Universal Pictures' Dr. Seuss' The Lorax". PRLog. Retrieved October 16, 2012.
  27. ^ "Dr. Seuss' the Lorax". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 6, 2021. Edit this at Wikidata
  28. ^ "The Lorax". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  29. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 22, 2016). "'Rogue One' Targets $221.7M Opening Week; 'Sing' Raises Voice To $20M Over Two Days – Noon Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  30. ^ Edelstein, David. "'The Lorax': A Campy And Whimsical Seussical". All Things Considered. National Public Radio. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
  31. ^ Roeper, Richard. "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax Review". Richard Roeper & The Movies. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  32. ^ Moore, Roger (March 1, 2012). "Review: 'Dr. Seuss' The Lorax' a feast of bright colors, design". Pittsburgh Tribune.
  33. ^ Subers, Ray (March 3, 2012). "Friday Report: 'The Lorax' Gets the Message Out on Friday". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  34. ^ "Weekend Report: Little 'Lorax' Is Box Office Giant". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  35. ^ "Illumination Entertainment". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  36. ^ "Dr. Seuss Showdown". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  37. ^ "Environmentalist". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  38. ^ "TOP OPENING WEEKENDS BY MONTH". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  39. ^ "Animation". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  40. ^ "'The Lorax' Defeats Disappointing 'John Carter'". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  41. ^ "Weekend Report (cont.): 'Titanic 3D' Doesn't Sink or Sail". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 24, 2022.
  42. ^ "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (2012) - Daily Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
  43. ^ "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (Original Songs From The Motion Picture)". Interscope. Archived from the original on March 3, 2012. Retrieved March 11, 2012.

External links[edit]