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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Movie Review - W A L L - E

I took the fridge-spawn to see Wall-E last night and left amazed. And by amazed, I don't mean in love with the movie. Simply amazed. This is not the typical Pixar fare. This is the most subversive kids movie since the first Willie Wonka. Can a movie be a kids movie, a robot love story, an ecological parable and a scathing critique of American society? Apparently yes.

I'm not gonna recount the plot of the story because it's just not as interesting as the ways in which this movie is a truly unusual experience (if you want that, this review gives it to ya). So, here are those "unusual ways" - bullet point style.

  • the first half of the film has almost no dialog. Wall-E only knows one word and that's his name. He learns another from his love-interest EvE - her name. She apparently only knows a couple others "Plant" and "Directive". The first half of the movie is nearly a silent film. Given the proclivity of most science fiction directors to pound our ears in with tedious exposition, this is an amazingly interesting and refreshing choice. The funniest description I've read of this is "Cormac McCarthy for kids!"

    sidebar: The flip-side of this becomes clear when you take a 4 year old and a 6 year old to watch a movie. In the absence of this dialog, these children will have many, many very loud questions. You may discuss whispering and why it's important at a theater when you can talk loudly at home.

  • Imagine the Pixar movie story meetings. "So wait, we're gonna make a movie for kids? You know, which typically are advertised with Happy Meals and often simply vehicles to sell toys. But, we're gonna use it to destroy the "LayZBoy-Box Store" American lifestyle? Really?"

    Truly a startling choice. This movie is practically Idiocracy for the toddler set. Incredible, really.

  • It all works. The target audience ("my kids") loved it. They were shocked and dismayed when all the people left the earth because of the garbage and pollution and they were elated and were elated when the people came back to earth to live. And they laughed and cheered for Wall-E all along the way. Truly remarkable. They don't know they just watched a movie that eviscerates the society they enjoy. At least today they don't. But that message will sink in and as they watch these movies over and over again as they grow up that message will surely sink in.

    I was intrigued when in 2006, Pixar decided they would no longer cross-promote with fast food companies. That's a small step for them to do if they want to make a difference. This movie is a big step. Pixar is using it's super powers to try and do good. Surely this will piss some people off. I'm fascinated by it.

    I'm not gonna give Wall-E a glib rating. I'm still too perplexed by how I feel about it. I definitely enjoyed parts of it greatly. I definitely was stung by some of the criticism when it hit home. Do I want Pixar movies that have such strong messages? Or do I just want entertainment from them? I dunno. Like all Pixar movies, it's very well done with amazing animation, but I can't decide how much I like it. I think I like that about the film the most.