Hey! Hey, guys! WALL-E is here! HOORAY!
So I should hope I don’t have to educate anybody reading this about what WALL-E is about. BUT HERE I GO ANYWAYS. WALL-E is about the eponymous robot tirelessly slaving away on a deserted Earth to clean up the trash we all left behind. He lives a solitary existence until one day a ship briefly lands, leaving behind a sexy, stylish droid named EVE who is vastly technologically superior to WALL-E. Of course, this being a movie, WALL-E gets a huge crush on EVE and he starts trying to court her. Just as things are starting to warm up, EVE completes her mysterious objective and gets recollected by the ship. WALL-E, determined not to lose EVE, hitches a ride and sets into motion a series of events that will alter the destiny of the human race.
I’ll keep this article short, because there’s only so much interesting stuff you can write about a movie you adore. I LOVE WALL-E. And although it seems like I’m always saying this about Pixar movies, it’s even better than the one that came before it. I won’t pretend I have a great background (or any background, really) in silent movies, but it’s obvious that WALL-E tries to succeed for most of its length without resorting to spoken dialogue. There’s so much that can be conveyed through just gestures and the robots repeating their names. Sort of like mechanical Pokemon? The true art of animation, in my opinion, is to convey personality through just movement and expression. And Pixar seems to have that down cold. I’m not an expert on their past in shorts, but every one I’ve seen have featured no dialogue at all. The one that precedes this movie in theaters, Presto, is a gem itself, which feels like the writers took a cue from video game critical darling Portal in its concept. So much personality shines through that it’s almost sickening how much talent Pixar has at their disposal. And actually sickening thinking that they wasted so much effort on Cars.
But for a family movie, WALL-E is surprisingly bleak in setting. Earth is a withered husk. Everything is covered in dust and buildings are rotting away. Within the first five minutes we see a field full of dead WALL-E models that our WALL-E has no qualms about cannibalizing for spare parts. Humans have grown so technology dependent that they’ve become blubbering masses of fat that can barely move and have no concept of the world outside their own personal view-screen. Human interaction is completely cyberized. People will video-conference with someone sitting right next to them. And they place all their value and attention on self-gratification and material goods. Even eating food involves as little physical exertion as possible. (“It’s lunch… in a cup!”) What a bold fuckin’ message for a movie aimed at an America where the waistline is expanding with no end in sight. Waiting in line for WALL-E, I took notice of how many of the kids (or their parents) going to see it looked overweight. It wasn’t a small amount. Even though redemption lies at the heart of WALL-E‘s futuristic cynicsm, I bet Asimov would’ve watched the movie with a wry smirk.
So WALL-E is pretty much the complete package. Not only is it a crowd-pleasing romantic adventure, but it has themes and messages that resonate on a much deeper level. It says a lot about how universal a movie is when I can silently enjoy it alongside the most middle-of-the-road movie-goer who is constantly laughing uproariously (even when no one else is). I also sort of feel like this movie was made just for me. I love entertainment where robots begin to develop human emotions. I will even defend A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, a movie that reduces me to a sobbing mess every time I see it. WALL-E isn’t so emotionally manipulative, but it did provoke some wetness in the eyes. Ratatouille couldn’t quite crack my top 10 last year, but I don’t expect WALL-E to suffer the same fate. Go see it. And for God’s sake, don’t leave during the credits! Have a little DIGNITY.