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#1449: Wall-E

Wall-E: most excellent.

There are two strikingly distinct aspects of Wall-E: first, it’s as about as close as you can get to a silent film in this day and age, and secondly, it’s got about as much biting social commentary as you can fit into a “children’s movie”.

Wall-E is, in my opinion, unfairly maligned as a politically charged film. It’s less about the struggles of the environment and more, in my opinion, about the direction American society is heading in. The idea that we are all becoming lazy, ineffectual consumers who are grossly obese and more importantly, the fact that we as a society are apathetic to the extreme, is far more the point of the movie with planetary concerns being an offshoot of this.

Wall-E himself is a tiny trash compacting robot who has spent years on Earth dutifully fulfilling his role. He goes out every day and cleans and stacks trash. He collects trinkets; sporks, Rubik’s Cubes, lighters and his most prized possession is a VHS tape of Hello, Dolly! which he records off the television and plays back as he works all day long. His only friend is a cockroach and his life is fairly routine until a robot on a search mission, EVE, lands to scour Earth for signs of new life. He falls in love with EVE at first sight and remains devoted to her, even when she leaves the planet. He leaves everything he knows behind and travels deep into space, merely for the hope of finding a love like what he sees on his tape of Hello, Dolly!

Humans have long ago left Earth (presumably for “five years”, which has in reality turned into 700 years) and are living aboard a cushy lifeboat, merely waiting to return to Earth.   In their mechanized world, they have turned so utterly lazy that it might actually turn your stomach.

The film itself is a pretty blistering look at what American culture is rapidly heading towards; consumerism at it’s most epic state and people who are outrageously slothful. Everyone aboard the savior ship, the Axiom, rides around in plushy hoverchairs with video screens. They haven’t walked in years and their every needs are catered to by machines. And here is where the real juxtaposition lies — the robots are often the most human. Wall-E wants nothing more than someone to ease his loneliness and he equates this with a holding of hands as witnessed in Hello, Dolly! He and EVE care more at times about saving the human race than the humans do.

But there is a moral to this; no matter how far you fall, you can be redeemed. And Wall-E, even at its most scathing, never fails to lose sight of this. There is always hope. There is always a chance to do better. In the words of the captain of the Axiom, “I don’t want to survive! I want to live!

As usual, Pixar’s animation is top-notch. This is beautiful, amazing stuff they’ve created, quite honestly. It’s a joy to watch and it made a grown man next to me sniffle in the theater. That’s not to say Wall-E doesn’t have its moments of lightheartedness – Wall-E’s reboot chime is the standard Mac chime, which got a big roar from the audience. Buy ‘N’Large corporation, which has taken over every aspect of human existence (in sometimes vastly frightening ways) is remarkable evocative of a super-enormous world-wide discount chain. And the gags are great. The voiceovers are superb and the story moves along rather well. In fact, Wall-E might just be the cutest, most adorable thing Pixar’s ever developed.

Sure, it’s marketed for children, but Wall-E is a movie for everyone, and it’s a damn fine one at that.

This is singlehandedly probably the best movie Pixar’s ever put out, and that is saying something for sure.

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