Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
|Featuring||Ben Burtt, Paul Eiding, Jeff Garlin, Kim Kopf, Kathy Najimy, Garrett Palmer, John Ratzenberger, Sigourney Weaver, Fred Willard|
|Director||Andrew Stanton—“Cars” (2006), “The Incredibles” (2004), “Finding Nemo” (2003), “Monsters, Inc.” (2001)|
Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation
“After 700 years of doing what he was built for—he’ll discover what he's meant for.”
Pixar Studios has produced some of the best family entertainment since Walt Disney died. Their latest picture, “Wall-E,” is allegedly one of the first they thought of, but they could not sell the idea until recently. One might call it a love story between two Robots (one of which is called “Eve”). Of course the movie is about far more than that. It is also a social commentary on corporations and about the human condition. As “Wall-E” and “Eve” leave the Earth they arrive at a spaceship full of the only human survivors from Earth. There the people's every needs are taken care of by computers and robots, but Wall-E and Eve soon help mankind realize that his future is back on Earth making things called “farms” and doing things like “dancing.”
“Wall-E” is a thoroughly entertaining movie, but as someone who does not have children himself, I wonder if children will enjoy this one as much as some parents. The first half of the movie has nary a word of dialogue and might seem slow to children used to Superhero movies and the fast paced action designed for the ADD generation. Will they pay attention? Will they enjoy a love story about two robots? Certainly they will love the robots, but what about the larger social commentary?
Morally I did not see anything wrong with the film. Perhaps really small children might be bothered by a couple of robots which are demolished, but I could not find a single dirty joke or inappropriate comment. On the other hand, “Wall-E” seemed to have a great deal of social commentary that might require explanation. Has technology made us into living vegetables? Have we harmed our planet in our desire to make life more entertaining and work free? Obviously these issues could be explosive political issues, but it is handled well enough that each viewer can largely formulate his own opinion. The theory of global warming is never mentioned but pollution and trash certainly are. Is this too heavy handed for young ones? No. The film does not preach political solutions, but does clearly mock the seeming fact that man is becoming a couch potato. Let us examine this closely.
First, planet Earth is literally a pile of trash after the “Global CEO” of a giant corporation seemingly turned the entire planet into a bunch of mindless consumers unable to think for themselves. The humans about the spaceship float around on hoverchairs and are shaped like butterballs. Most have never walked in their lifetime and in one scene which parodies the scene in “2001 A Space Odyssey” where apes evolve into upright walking creatures, the Captain struggles to get out of his chain and take the first steps of his life. Other humans are hooked up to virtual reality computers and seem oblivious to the real world around them. They are fascinated when they see it. Now some might call this heavyhanded, but I was not offended. It is clearly parody and specific issues and solutions are not preached from the screen. What is preached is summarized in the words of the Captain,
“I don’t want to survive. I want to live!”
That is the theme of the film. Living. Have we forgotten the simple pleasures of life? Are we just mindless consumers who long for entertainment and have forgotten how to do anything ourselves? The Captain must asks his computer what a “farm” is and and soon learns that he can grow his own food, such a apples and pizzas!
The only thing really missing from the film was God. This is perhaps all to predictable, but unfortunate. If we really want to understand our way in the world and our purpose in life then we need to know God, and only through Christ can we understand that. Perhaps that is the real reason that so many people have become mindless consumers looking for something, but not knowing what they are looking for. We scurry back and forth seeking happiness in games, entertainment, and valuables, when real happiness is found in our relationship with God.
The real joy of the film is in the two leading robots. Wall-E is fascinated by little things, but especially by love. The robots show us what too many of us seem to have forgotten in the hustle and bustle world. “Wall-E” ranks among Pixars’ best films, although I would not put it in the same class with “Toy Story” or “The Incredibles.”
The only real question is how will children react? That is something I am very curious to know. Perhaps that is why the film was never made until now. One thing is for sure; Pixar’s new movie will not be a flop.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.