Entertainment » Movies


by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Friday Jun 27, 2008
The adorable robot star of "WALL*E" ponders life, the universe and everything.
The adorable robot star of "WALL*E" ponders life, the universe and everything.  (Source:Pixar)

You know you're in for an ultimate gay-lovers film during the opening sequence of Pixar's WALL*E, when the opening stanzas of "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" from the "Hello, Dolly!" movie soundtrack play out cheerfully. It's entirely incongruous to the images on screen, as the digital camera zooms into an Earth that's been completely abandoned by humanity, our inescapable drive for excess having wasted away the planet's natural resources to the point where we literally abandon our Good Ship Earth. In our absence, we leave the regrettable and monumental job of trash pickup to a series of robots called WALL*E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class).

After 700 years of thankless work, there is only one functional WALL*E robot left, and the adorable bundle of gyros and motors is sure to be ironically remembered as the year's most enchanting, emotive protagonist from the big screen. It takes all of ten minutes to realize that Pixar has done it again: they've invented a perfectly charming, wonderful, imaginative motion picture that will delight children and adults alike. And this time, they have delivered their best ever.

WALL*E slowly roams the Earth, compacting trash and piling it up in literal skyscrapers of garbage, his only company in his unending task a series of human artifacts that he keeps stored in the oversized, broken down sanitation vehicle he calls home, a videotape of "Hello, Dolly!" that he watches unendingly, and a cockroach that quite wonderfully bounces back from any injury, his lifeblood the sensational, non-expirational tasty cake known as the Twinkie. WALL*E finally overcomes his boredom thanks to the arrival of a gleaming new spacecraft, which touches down and quickly departs, leaving behind a small white robot named EVE (Extra-Terrestrial Vegatation Evaluator). They meet cute, of course: she inadvertently comes close to incinerating him with her newfangled laser. But soon, the two become friends.

I've described perhaps the first third of the film, and up to this point there is no dialogue; merely chirps, whizzes and beeps that will have you cooing nostalgically with thoughts of R2-D2, with the robot's inviting visual appearance recalling Johnny 5 from guilty '80s pleasure "Short Circuit." Yet WALL*E outcharms them both, and his sad little mixture of determination and shyness charms EVE as well. Things seem to be moving along the right path for the little protagonist with a big heart... until suddenly, EVE accomplishes her mission on Earth.

From here, the plot turns surprisingly seditious. We've already been treated to a scathing statement on humanity's wastefulness -- blamed in no small party on the axiom that "bigger is better." Pixar therein creates a separate irony: the company most responsible for excessive stockpiling (BNL, or "By N Large") is also the company that created WALL*E. When he desperately follows his new girlfriend into outer space to find the remains of humanity, we're depicted as giant sloths, overweight slackers who move about in hover chairs, employing robots to do every lick of work, and slaves to computer screens and audio devices that are the only apparent modes of communication left.

Writer-director Andrew Stanton ("Finding Nemo") presents a biting view of the future, and if the core morality of the film is slightly overpowering as a result, it represents the movie's only weakness. Technologically speaking, "WALL*E" is a marvel of animation, sound design and direction: a brilliant follow-up to last year's "Ratatouille," and the effective mix of humor and surprisingly emotive characters proves a potent blend.

But in the end, Stanton and Pixar remember -- as usual -- that good characters make good stories, and good stories make good movies. You'll fall in love with WALL*E and EVE just as I did (although I have a special place in my heart for that friggin' cockroach, who might just steal yours too), and in the end, you'll wonder, just as I did: how is it possible that the year's most romantic movie couple could be a match made on the assembly line?



Runtime :: 97 mins
Release Date :: Jun 27, 2008
Language :: English
Country :: United States

David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, is a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his daughter in Dedham MA.

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