by Allan Fish
Buy N Large – your very best friend
p Jim Morris d Andrew Stanton w Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon story Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter ed Steven Schaffer m Thomas Newman art Ralph Eggleston Fred Willard (Shelby Forthright, BNL, CEO),
VOICES BY:- Ben Burtt (WALL-E/M.O.), Elissa Knight (EVE), Jeff Garlin (Captain), John Ratzenberger (John), Sigourney Weaver (Ship’s Computer), Kathy Najimy (Mary), Kim Kopf (Hoverchair mother),
OK, imagine that C3-PO didn’t sound gay and R2D2 was female. Er, maybe not. OK, start over. He adored Hello Dolly, he idolised it out of all proportion. No, no, no…this isn’t Antz, go away, Woody. Deep breath…now, imagine that the Earth was no longer populated by humans. Imagine that it was approximately seven hundred years into the future, and all the humans have long since departed on Operation Recolonize. That’s better…here we go.
Wall-E (Waste Allocation Lift Loader (Earth-class)), is a small robot who has spent the seven centuries since mankind’s departure from earth doing what he was programmed to do; compress the garbage and waste materials left behind into easy to stack cubes. He’s been doing it for so long you can imagine how bored he is. His only company is a cricket, and his only pleasures are finding weird and wonderful things – Rubik cube, light bulbs, gnomes, a VHS tape of Hello Dolly – in amongst the debris and taking them back to his shack. One day, out of the sky, a space ship descends and a smart, white assumedly female droid which hovers and doesn’t touch the ground, is left behind. She’s called EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), and she’s here to forage for signs of life to take back to the mother ship where the humans are living awaiting the time to return home. Wall-E has never seen anything so lovely before and, as much out of loneliness as out of love, follows her everywhere. Eventually, she befriends him, but on the point of Wall-E becoming a very happy robot, the mother ship returns and takes her with it, but Wall-E, in desperation, hitches a lift and so begins the adventure of his life.
Disney had long had a reputation for anthropomorphising the behavior of animals, but Pixar had been doing so for inanimate objects for years. There had been animated films on the subject of artificial intelligence before, most notably the forgettable Robots, but Wall-E blows that and most other animated films out of the water. It’s a staggering achievement. Many will scoff at the rather straightforward story, and yet one does wonder if they truly realize who the target audience is here.
This is a kids movie, and yet, as with all the best of Pixar, there’s much here for adults to enjoy, from the idea of humans turning into blobby masses due to losing bones outside of the Earth’s atmosphere to the same atmosphere being littered with metallic intergalactic litter to signs advertising Outlet Malls on the Moon to the idea of robots dancing to Michael Crawford in Hello Dolly and falling in love. Not to mention the music played around the captain – Richard Strauss, Johann Strauss, all very Kubrickian – and the idea of
the ship’s computer being Ellen Ripley. Or maybe Ripley morphed into Mother? EVE is at first a rather cold creature, but Wall-E himself (a bit like No 5 in Short Circuit, except soooooooo much better) is cute right from the get -go. Here’s a character in the E.T. mould. He even talks like him, his love-struck murmurs of “Eee-vah” (he can’t pronounce EVE correctly) are enough to melt hearts of stone, and as is customary, there’s that moment of sadness before the joy, where EVE believes Wall-E has lost his memory of her and painfully turns to leave him. Equal parts a romantic comedy for artificial life forms and an econightmare of the future, Wall-E was another in the conveyor belt of animated classics to come out of the Pixar stable. But sadly, the decline set in here.