Starring: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Fred Willard
Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Pixar and Disney movies are always a treat. WALL-E is no exception as it really is a charming and enjoyable film no matter what your age is. Andrew Stanton did a remarkable job creating a movie that is very light on dialogue but is able to not only tell a touching love story but also have several deep messages about environmentalism and human activity. It does have its problems in that it could have been paced better and it feels a bit longer than it actually is. However, WALL-E is still a wonderful movie.
Earth has become a wasteland; literally. There is so much garbage that the human race had to evacuate the planet. The only creatures that are still "alive" are WALL-E, an incredibly adorable waste disposal robot (think Johnny 5 from the Short Circuit movies but without any vocal skills) and his only friend, a cockroach. WALL-E spends the day compiling cubes ofgarbage and making towers out of them. He also collects interesting knick-knacks and hoards them. One of his favourite possessions is a VCR and a VHS cassette of the film Hello Dolly!. Even though he’s a robot, he feels very alone and longs for a companion to share his life with.
Things change radically for WALL-E one day. It seemed like an average day for the small robot until a giant ship lands on the planet. It released a small white robot; which sort of looks like a sleeker version of R2D2. WALL-E is fascinated by this robot although it originally acts hostile towards WALL-E. Eventually, this mysterious robot realizes that WALL-E is not a threat and they begin to develop a friendship. It introduces itself as Eve. WALL-E shows Eve all his treasures which she seems perplexed by. However, Eve goes haywire when WALL-E shows her a plant. Eve steals the plant, hides it within her casing and shuts down. Sometime later, the rocket ship returns to collect Eve. Not wanting to lose Eve, WALL-E sneaks on the ship too. It turns out the ship belongs to the human evacuees from Earth. They’ve been sending scout ships to Earth for years to see if plants have started growing again. Now’s the human race’s chance to return to Earth and rebuild the planet.
The main part of the movie is the relationship between WALL-E and Eve. It’s a very touching love story that is told with limited dialogue. WALL-E can only say his own name and is barely able to say Eve’s name. Eve’s vocabulary is limited too. However, it’s their actions that tell the story. It’s incredible the narrative the two animated robots are able to tell with simple gestures. Elaborate live-action movies generally don’t come close to doing as good a job at exploring relationships as WALL-E does. It’s a testament to the notion that sometimes less is more. Just the whole storyline arc surrounding how WALL-E desperately wants to hold Eve’s hand but is thwarted at every opportunity is better than the entire story for many romance movies. The whole dynamic of the relationship makes this tale very heartwarming.
The other major overlying themes of environmentalism and humanity’s reliance on technology also do a good job at making the audience think about those issues without being annoying or too flashy. The environmentalism theme doesn’t feel like the moviemakers are scolding humanity for polluting the world. Instead, it’s feels more like they’re trying to tell a cautious tale about the dangers of overconsumption. The same goes for humanity’s reliance on technology. It’s doesn’t feel like it’s a lecture. It’s told in a comical way but still feels like it has substance. The whole concept that humans have become so fat due to their insistence on using technology for even the smallest tasks like getting dressed or even getting out of bed is both funny but also sends a strong message to a younger generation who is used to technology doing so much for them. It’s good for a movie to have strong social and moral overtones without being preachy.
The movie does have pacing issues. It does slow up considerably in spots which may lose the audience. Except for near the end, it feels that every time the movie builds any sort of momentum, it hits lull periods. It can be distracting and become easy to lose interest in the story. It’s a good thing the content is so intriguing because if it was any weaker, the movie would feel more like patchwork than something with a solid foundation.
WALL-E is a great story. It’s very touching and makes you think about the future. At times, it’s easy to lose interest but the narrative is strong enough that these moments are fleeting despite the pacing issues. It’s enjoyable for the entire family and everyone else.