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June 10, 2024

WALL-E: Put On Your Sunday Clothes and Go See This One

By Bernie and Sand Pilarski

Sand said:

I saw the trailer for this animated film last spring, and chuckled a bit at it. The animation looked good, but I figured it was just a hoked-up animated remake of Short Circuit (1986) with "love" thrown in for sentimental slobbers.

Had it not been for the fact that the smoke from wildfires still has us under a health advisory (you know, one of the ones that says, "Hey, if you're not a total knuckleheaded stupid moron, stay indoors") I would have opted to lounge by the pool and see this movie on DVD "sometime", a time not to be confused with "soon." In fact, I was so convinced it would be dopey that I dragged the grand-daughter along as an excuse, in case, envisioning myself saying, "Ah, it was -- cute. The granddaughter enjoyed it."

And it is a fact that the granddaughter did enjoy the movie, very much. However, I don't think she enjoyed it half as much as I did.

First of all, the animation was mind-boggling. Pixar outdid themselves. We've become used to good CGI, both in action films and in animation, but WALL-E took it to a new level. From the prosaic piles of rusted garbage to the sleek lines and movement of the EVE robot (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), the technical expertise of this movie is just stunning. At the beginning of the film, I was distracted by the images, so much so that I wasn't paying attention to what was happening.

Then there was a flip-flop, as WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter- Earth Class, a trash compactor on treads) and his pet cockroach gave the audience an overview of what daily life on garbage-strewn, ecologically ruined Earth has been like for the past 700 years. I forgot it was animation, and remembered my own current battles over the use of evil plastic bags for groceries, and my abhorrence of throw-away packaging and technology. There's the poor machine, still doing his job every day, compacting trash, all alone, trying to fulfill his directive: Clean Things Up.

Somewhere along the line, WALL-E became sentient. He collects things. He has a favorite song. He sees EVE swooping about in her pristine white armor and falls for her like a ton of junk. When she is encapsulated and taken away by a space probe, he risks what little life he has and follows her, his bumbling, curious, innocent way of dealing with everything causing mayhem ... and reminding machines there's more to existence than doing the same thing day in and day out. Along the way, he reminds the self-centered, comfort-demanding humans of the story the same thing.

The story worked. The animation was perfect. And then there was the characterization ... the robots didn't talk, most of them, anyway, including WALL-E and EVE. (Well, they had rudimentary voices, but not dialog, per se.) But there was no mistaking EVE's personality, and believe me, that is one robot chick you don't want to cross! WALL-E himself was sweet and humble and optimistic, but by no means a slacker.

Who's the bad guy? Why, the auto-pilot robot of the humans' arcology. The humans left Earth because it was a mess, and the auto-pilot doesn't want them to go back. Efficient and sinister, the auto-pilot might just be doing his programmed duty, but on the other hand ...

WALL-E worked for entertainment of the six-year-old granddaughter, and I loved it myself, for the story, the message, and the technical details. And the humor. I can't wait to own this one on DVD, when I know I will watch it again and again, greedily searching for all the little details I probably missed today while I was laughing.

Bernie said:

I had a New York steak in the restaurant of a Holiday Inn in Cheyenne, Wyoming back in the summer of 1985. Normally I don't expect a great deal from hotel restaurants, just that the food be hot and reasonably palatable. But even with the first bite, I knew that I had been served the best piece of meat I had ever had, and perhaps the best piece of meat that I would ever have in my life. Twenty-three years later, it remains the defining moment in my carnivorous life.

Speaking of eating meat, I became a football fan in the 70's while living in Pennsylvania and rooting for my hometown Steelers who chewed up opponents and spat them out on a regular basis. I know that myths can eclipse facts when you remember your heroes, but there was a sense back then that when Bradshaw, Swann, Stallworth, Harris, and Bleier got the ball they could do just about anything they wanted, and when Mean Joe Green and the Steel Curtain took the field for defense, there was an even bigger sense that no other team would be allowed to do what they hoped to do. Four Super Bowl wins in five years -- I knew that I would probably never see another franchise like the Steelers of the 70's.

I often tell Sand she is the best wife in the world. I know I'm out on a limb there since I haven't actually done all the research necessary to make such a claim, but she is at the very least what the world would refer to as my twin flame, a soul created at the same time as mine, the only soul that can truly complete me and give me meaning. Once again, I have been exceedingly fortunate, for it is said that not all twin flames find each other, and tragically, some don't recognize their twin. I've now had thirty-three years basking in her light.

So what am I rambling on about? Well strangely enough, I'm trying to set the stage to talk about WALL-E, Disney/Pixar's latest animated adventure. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the finest animated movie ever made. It works on so many levels that you just have to shake your head in amazement and say "Wow." It is so well done that it is easy to gloss over the challenge Pixar set for itself in making this movie: tell a story in which none of the main characters can speak! Yet succeed they did. There is pathos, there is comedy, there is social commentary that is biting, and there is love. It works for kids and adults. It has spectacular art work and wonderful music. It blows things up without being violent, and the good guys win in the end with a message of hope for mankind's future.

I'll be interested to see how well this does at the box office. It opened with very respectable numbers, but behind opening week numbers for The Incredibles and Finding Nemo. By all rights, this should be a mega, mega hit, and Pixar deserves to make oodles of bucks for their effort.

Don't wait on this one, guys, go see it in the theater! And buy it for your collection when the DVD comes out.

Sand says:

Awww... See why I hold his hand when we watch a movie?

Article © Bernie and Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2008-06-30
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