Andrew Stanton | 2008 | 97 min | USA
Here's how I want to imagine the genesis of Wall-E. Andrew Stanton sees An Inconvenient Truth, and leaving the theatre thinks, 'That movie was about a lot of important things that kids would really benefit from hearing. If only Al Gore wasn't so stiff and robotic... Waaaaait a second! We could use this movie as a springboard for a kid's film... We can make Al Gore a smaller, cuter robot, and then... Hmmmm. AND THEN we can set most of it in outer space with space ships and stuff! I better write this down.'
Humans no longer live on Earth. They now reside on a cruise spaceship, up in the stars. They're waited on hand-and-foot by robots, and hover around fat and mindless on futuristic lounge chairs. Back on Earth, the environment's been decimated, and the landscape covered in garbage. While we humans are living the "good life", a little robot called Wall-E diligently scoots around Earth, sweeping piles of junk into his belly, compressing it into a cube, and then stacking the cubes of refuse in an orderly fashion. Wall-E has a home filled with knickknacks that he's collected over the years while cleaning up our mess. Rubik's cubes, light bulbs, lighters, etc. His prized possession is a VHS copy of the musical, Hello, Dolly, which he watches at night, emulating, and recording sections of its songs to play back to himself as he works during the day. One day, while working, a space ship lands on Earth and drops off a shiny new robot that proceeds to fly around scanning everything it sees. After a bad first meeting, Wall-E manages to make friends with this new robot whose name is Eva, and then proceeds to woe her.
From there, the film becomes a story of robot romance, and an action movie about our responsibility to the environment. Think On Deadly Ground in space. Okay, not really. If only though.
Everyone seems to have fallen head over heels in love with the romance of Wall-E and Eva, but it struck me as kind of creepy. Wall-E and Eva don't speak the same language, and Wall-E continuously tries to win her affection by giving her presents (ie: the prettiest junk that he's collected) even though she at first doesn't accept his advances. He tries to hold her hand repeatedly until finally he succeeds one day while she's essentially unconscious. It all sort of reminded me of a mail-order bride arrangement.
Being creeped out by the film's ideas about romance aside, Wall-E delivers its environmental message within a really fun film that's full of great sequences, good voice performances, and above all else, some of the most stunning computer animation that's been produced.