Movie Review: Wall-e

Movies and Television
© 2008 Walt Disney Pictures

What happens if you have no dialogue for almost 30 minutes? Well, the 6-year-old boy I was with did not seem to mind.

Yes he was enraptured by the whole movie-going experience: the popcorn, the screen, the people around him. But he hung in there and seemed to enjoy it.

As with other Pixar releases Wall-E opened with a funny short about a magician and his rabbit. Cute enough, but adding length to movies (already bloated with commercials and trailers) that are targeted to little people with little bladders is not always a good idea. And like other efforts, this one is as much for adults as anyone.

Yes there are cutesy action moments for kids, but really this is so “Liberal Hollywood” making a statement and poking fun of us humans while doing it.

Earth is all junked up, filled with trash and debris that has left if a void wasteland of nothing. Lots of pro-environment programming messages. People left behind traces of their (Western; U.S.) culture: old video tape of a movie musical, watched on an iPod naturally, toys, cars and other crap. Wall-e is one of the few automated robots left, compacting and cleaning up the mess.

A little more than bored, Wall-e plays with a surviving roach and collects odd trinkets. When a cool, white hover drone comes down for a visit, he is smitten. After some trial and error, a friendship is formed. But of course, the drone is another robot with another mission: find proof of life on Earth. Once a plant is found, the drone is recalled to space with Wall-e tagging along for the ride. So in space is when we see some people, and hear some dialogue.

See when Earth got trashed, everyone packed their bags for a 5-year tour of space while robots were tasked to clean the mess. But unlike Gilligan and his friends, they were stranded on a luxury liner that catered to their every whim. Being people, which is to say selfish, spoiled and self-absorbed, they did not mind the 700-year tour so much. In fact so used to being catered to and wheeled around on hovercraft, everyone is older, fatter and lazy as hell, completely ignorant of anything except their personal video screen systems.

A little more action, drama and plot kick in, all done in pretty animation. Actually the whole thing looks very Apple, not surprising considering the Pixar-Apple link; and parts of it did call to mind Star Wars, understandable considering the Lucasfilm-Pixar link.

But with its “what are we doing?” and “what have or will we become?” questions, Wall-e is a “simple” movie that is anything but. To sum up:
  • Earth circa 2700 is not all that different, just all crap and no water, trashed by the humans. Clever reduce, reuse, recycle link should be here.
  • People circa 2700 are not all that different. (See also, Walt Disney World.) And they build great things that are helpful, smart and able to make our lives easier; and we are dumb enough to trust those things.
  • When push comes to shove, the people do shove back in the direction of doing the right thing. Okay so this last one may be wishful thinking, but maybe I’m an optimist.

The Final Snark: Disney-Pixar magic, but maybe not enough cotton-candy sweetness, or kung-pao video game action to keep some kids in their seats for repeated viewings.

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