SCREENING IN NYC: Wall*E (2008).

Posted: June 30, 2011 in Cartoons, Movies (W), Robots, Sci-Fi

 

The Metropolitan Museum Of Art is running a great film series this month called Pixar Revisited, where they will be screening pretty much the entire catalogue of the much-loved, industry-revolutionizing animation house.  

Wall-E, maybe my favorite Pixar movie to date, is screening tomorrow, Friday, at 4:30pm, and then again on Saturday July 9th at 8pm.  Here’s most of what I wrote about Wall-E, way back in 2008

 

 

Wall-E is the new computer-generated film from Pixar, which opened big over the weekend. I don’t often go to see science fiction movies or kids’ movies, because I am sadly not a kid anymore and don’t have kids of my own yet, and in the case of science fiction, to me, those are, more often than not, pretty derivative of what has come before, when the genre definition seems to demand original, innovative thinking.

Not in this case.

Here’s what the movie is about:

Wall-E (not to be confused with the rapper of the very-similar name) is a small robot whose every day is spent performing garbage disposal functions on a future Earth which is so over-run with trash as to be unlivable. He seems to have developed human-like emotions, and is a bit of a softy, as he putters around the vast junk graveyards he plays the musical Hello Dolly on his in-deck tape player, on loop. It is unavoidable to not that Wall-E looks exactly like a little-person version of Johnny-Five from Short Circuit, but he does have a personality of his own, and for better or worse, does not have Fisher Stevens as a sidekick.

No, Wall-E’s only living companion is a cockroach, which follows him around everywhere, scittering all over the place curiously. And let it be said that this here is the purest example of the talent of the guys at Pixar, because they have taken the one breed of Earth creature left unexploited by children’s animation (because no one likes a cockroach), and have made it completely likable. I wonder if Raid sales will drop temporarily on account of this movie.

Anyway, one day a space probe lands, disrupting Wall-E’s normal routine, and out of it arrives EVE, a lady robot. (EVE is also not to be confused with the rapper of the same name, however similar in temperament she may be. Come to think of it though, a hip-hop West Side Story does seem to be an inevitability that I might pay to see.) Wall-E immediately falls in love with EVE, who looks like a Tokyo parking meter but again is convincingly enlivened by the Pixar treatment. Wall-E tries repeatedly to get EVE’s attention, but she is on Earth on a mission, the details of which she is unwilling or unable to share. Stuff ensues.

 

All I ever ask of a movie is that it show me something I haven’t seen before. If that’s too tall an order, I’d happily settle for being shown something I have seen before, only in a new way. Wall-E delivers several sights and sounds that feel absolutely new. It depicts a tangible and convincing future Earth. The few pop-culture references it does make are clever and entertaining, and not remotely as violence-provokingly obvious as in, for example, the Shrek movies.

I like the love story angle too. I like the way it captures crazy love – the way us guys sometimes fall for the girl who may not be a realistic get, or even particularly safe for our continued wellbeing if we did get her, and the way that you girls occasionally warm to those of us guys who may not have it all going on in terms of hygiene or smarts, but are genuine and loyal and will eventually win you over if you let us stick around for long enough. It’s a sweet portrayal, but not the kind of sweet that makes a hardass sumbitch like me want to punch himself in the jaw for an hour and change. The movie earns its sweetness.

Also, this is, overall, a relatively persuasive depiction of the future. It’s at least the most thoroughly-thought-out science fiction since Children of Men, in my opinion. There are a lot of subversive ideas here, especially for a Disney movie, about where we could end up if we keep heading in certain directions. It’s interesting and commendable and not all that much for kids.

But that’s why you need the space robots.

The movie has its few and far-between storytelling flaws, but overall it’s the kind of movie I most like to see and hope to one day soon get made – a story that is first and foremost entertainment, but also has a brain in its head.  Wall-E has it all.

 

 

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