WALL-E sacrifices kiddie wonder for mundane action. 

Pixar goes futuristic in WALL-E, an animated story about a lonely robot that looks something like a mechanical E.T. or a mini-me of the 'bot from Short Circuit. In this dystopian vision, humans have abandoned an Earth made toxic by garbage and now live in a gigantic floating space ship while sending robots back to clean up the planet.

The film is set in a further future in which even this attempt has been abandoned and the protagonist is, apparently, the last functioning worker-bee robot on Earth. WALL-E stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter — Earth Class, and, as the film opens, there's only one functioning WALL-E left on the deserted planet, diligently performing his programmed duties by converting human refuse into neat, stackable bricks. But WALL-E has a personality too, setting aside interesting remnants of human civilization — a Rubik's Cube, a Twinkie, and a VHS of a film musical — to take back to his metallic shelter.

One day WALL-E is visited by a more advanced 'bot, Eve, sent back to Earth on a reconnaissance mission. Eve looks something like a cylindrical iBook, and she and WALL-E are well-conceived and animated creations, with distinct, relatable personalities discernable despite minimal dialogue. (There's a passing nod to silent cinema here with the relationship a kinda, sorta reworking of Charlie Chaplin's City Lights.)

This vision of a future in which cities are submerged by skyscrapers made of trash and humans have been reduced to lazy, passive, sub-verbal consumption machines is essentially Idiocracy for kids, except the evil-corporation subplot — starring Fred Willard, in the flesh — is clearly aimed at parents in the audience, and that hints at the problem.

Instead of merely following its premise into what should have been a Pixarized version of the Spielbergian wonder of movies like E.T. and A.I., WALL-E lapses into noisy, semiviolent confrontations that mimic run-of-the-mill sci-fi and action flicks for teenagers and adults. It might be a little too scary and violent for younger children, but, really, kids of all ages deserve better.

A better model for a good kids' film comes from one of the year's other animated hits, Horton Hears a Who! (or, to cite an earlier Pixar triumph, Finding Nemo, which was the directing debut of WALL-E's Andrew Stanton) — a film not saddled, Shrek-like, with would-be-clever pop-culture references or content clearly aimed over the heads of the kids who make up its alleged audience. As such, Horton won over this adult viewer in ways that WALL-E — which panders to me, though not as baldly as Shrek — couldn't and also won over my 3-year-old, who sat rapt for Horton but bailed after 10 minutes of WALL-E.


Opening Friday, June 27th

Multiple locations

Speaking of...


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

    • Jackie

      Natalie Portman’s stunning, relevant performance elevates Jackie.
    • Hidden Figures

      Taraji P. Henson leads a talented cast in the story of NASA’s unsung heroes
    • 2016: The Year In Film

      Yes, Gods Of Egypt Was That Bad.


Politics Beat Blog

Cohen Won't Attend Trump Inauguration

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Music Video Monday: Valerie June

Beyond the Arc

Bulls 108, Grizzlies 104: A Game of Ghosts

Tiger Blue

Tigers 62, USF 56

Fly On The Wall Blog

Memphis Bound Gilbert Gottfried Talks Trump, TV, Life on the Road

Politics Beat Blog

Briefs from the Political Week

Politics Beat Blog

In The Age Of Trump, Remember The Killian Documents


More by Chris Herrington

  • Last Words

    In "Enough Said," James Gandolfini makes his last lead film role his best.
    • Sep 26, 2013
  • Masters of Sound

    New albums from two of Memphis’ most distinctive stylists.
    • Sep 19, 2013
  • Hayes Carll at the Hi-Tone

    • Sep 19, 2013
  • More »

Readers also liked…

© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation