Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Wall•E

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:All Ages
MPAA Rating:G
Profanity:None
Nudity/Sex:Kiss
Alcohol/Drugs:None
Violence/Scariness:Tension and peril, themes of environmental degredation and toxic waste
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:June 27, 2008
DVD Release Date:November 18, 2008

700 years after the last humans left the planet they had made uninhabitable through environmental degradation, one small robot is still continuing to crunch the mountains of trash. He is a Waste Allocation Load-Lifter Earth-Class, or Wall•E. His eyes are binoculars, his legs are treads, and his torso is a garbage compacter. But somehow, somewhere, he has developed the heart of a true romantic hero. His speech may be made up of beeps and squeaks but he thinks about the trash he picks up, puzzling (as well he might) over a spork and a Rubik’s Cube. He feels affection for the only life form he sees, a friendly brown cockroach. And every night he comes back to his little home and puts on an old video tape of “Hello Dolly,” watching the big dance numbers and dreaming robotic dreams of having a hand to hold, just like the characters in the movie. Just as we always suspected, after total annihilation of everything else on the planet, the only survivors will be cockroaches, Broadway show tunes, and Twinkies (okay, the lawyers made them call it something else on the package, but trust me, it’s a Twinkie). The genius of Pixar, the most successful movie studio in history, the only one ever to make more than $100 million with every one of its releases, is that they may spend blockbuster money on a film (reportedly $180 million for this one) but hold on to the soul of an independent movie made on a microscopic budget. They are happy to take on the consumerist culture that has made their corporate owner, Disney, a world power larger and more influential than most countries. They don’t rely on pre-sold characters (fairy tales, television shows) or focus-grouped storylines with all of the risk and quirkiness squeezed out of them — along with all of the authenticity and character. Like the humble little hero of this film, they hold onto their dreams. If that makes the films more challenging, less easily accessible, good for them and good for us, too.Indeed, that is one of the themes of this film, whose robot characters have much more wisdom, courage, intelligence, and personality than the humans. After 700 years away from Earth, humans have devolved into a sort of perpetual infancy, their minds and bodies all but atrophied. They float through their space station in hover chairs, mesmerized by media screens before their eyes that block their ability to see anything else. Food and drink are constantly brought to them by robot drones and they, like their space station, are on automatic pilot. One of the lovely ironies of this story is that the machine who watches “Hello Dolly” on a broken-down videotape is inspired by it to seek companionship and intimacy while the humans’ media immersion puts them in a constant state of dazed isolation. Wall•E’s life is changed when an egg-shaped space probe named Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator (EVE) arrives. At first, they seem like opposites. He is scuffed and rusty and she is sleek and pristine. He is a romantic and she is all business. But like all great screen romances, their initial disconnections spark their affection. In this case literally. Their kiss is electrifying.Wall•E and EVE end up on EVE’s space station where her mission is revealed — and then imperiled. It is the misfit robots and one brave human who discovers that he can think for himself who must find a way to bring the humans and their home planet back to life. Just as the first courageous little tendril of a plant is willing to give Earth another chance, so the first tender stirrings of empathy, affection, curiosity, and honor in the small robots and the oversize humans inspire each other — and us. Pixar is also famous for the short films that precede its features and this one is a gem. Be sure to get there on time for the hilarious story of a magician with a hungry bunny. Parents should know that this movie has some tense scenes of characters in peril and that its themes of environmental degradation and human negligence may be disturbing. Some younger audience members may find it difficult to follow the extended scenes without any dialogue. Family discussion: What can we do now to prevent the kind of environmental degradation and human negligence shown in this movie? How do we know when to disobey orders or “directives?”If you like this, try: the other Pixar films, a classic science fiction film with similar themes and equally adorable robots, Silent Running (some mature material), and of course Hello, Dolly!



  • jestrfyl

    I will have to read some of the interviews with the film makers. I am extremely curious why they chose “Hello Dolly”. Now I will have to propose our Wed. afternoon film group watch that movie, just so I have an excuse to see it again.
    What makes Pixar different from other Big Film Makers (like Lucas) is that they realize the first and most important thing is the story. Special effects are lovely and fun, but they are, at best, the vehicle in which the story rides. Without the storyline to give puepose and heart, the amazing special effects are like listening to a great pianist practice scales and arpeggios – they get still boring quickly.

  • Alexa

    Why Hello Dolly? I was just discussing this with my daughter, 12, an avid musical theater fan. Hello, Dolly is about getting out of your dreary little rut, seeing the world, and finding romance. Ditto, WALL-E.

  • Big_Dave_T

    Both my wife and I were disappointed in the film after seeing it today. It seemed longish and predictable. There were some touching and amusing sequences but there were also long stretches where the banter of the five-year-olds in the row behind us was more amusing than the constant refrain of “Wally” and “Eva” from the main characters on the screen. Not a bad movie. Just not as good as I was expecting.

  • James

    I saw an interview with Andrew Stanton last week where he answered the “Why ‘Hello, Dolly!'” question. He said it basically just hit him one day, when the first notes of the song “Out There” started playing.
    Stanton had always intended to open the film with a juxtaposition of an older song against the futuristic setting, and hearing the words Cornelius sings (Out there/There’s a world outside of Yonkers) made it the perfect fit.
    The more he thought about it, the more he realized the central themes of “Wall-E” and “Hello, Dolly!” were similar, so he began to incorporate more of the musical into his story.
    A lot of people seem to think Wall-E’s central theme is one of environmentalism and anti-consumerism. In fact, the fate of our abandoned planet becomes secondary to the story of these two “lovers” in a single moment. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t yet seen the film, but those who have seen it should know which moment I’m referring to if I simply say “Directive”.
    Wall-E is a love story and adventure tale (about escaping your “dreary little rut, as Alexa put it) set against the backdrop of humankind attempting to reclaim earth and (hopefully) respecting the fragility of their former home, not to mention their own bodies.

  • iorek

    I absolutely loved this movie. My daughter remarked that Eve is designed like an Apple brand product. Any significance to that?

  • jestrfyl

    James,
    I appreciate your posting. I will be looking for that interview – and listening for that word.

  • Victor Panlilio

    The film is brilliant in so many different ways. It pays subtle homage to other sci-fi movies, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, E.T., and Short Circuit. There’s also visual homage in the end credits to Seurat, Van Gogh, and Atari(!). Rarely have I enjoyed a film so thoroughly, and the inside jokes for Apple fans are sprinkled throughout – from Wall-E’s solar charging completion sound (taken right from a Mac rebooting) to the autopilot on the Axiom (a synthesized Macintalk voice) to the video-capable iPod on which Wall-E views the Broadway musical. There are other clever touches and Easter eggs throughout — among the space detritus circling the Earth, Sputnik bobbing in the wake of the ship carrying EVE and Wall-E to the Axiom, and as it cruised past the moon, the lower stage of the Eagle lunar lander, a lunar rover, and a U.S. flag, all reminders of the Apollo space program. Much has already been written about the relationship between Wall-E and EVE, but James nailed it when he mentioned “Directive” above. How ironic that future humans are revived from their sybaritic stupor by a lonely, romantic trash compactor and his feisty robot girlfriend. Dismissive reviewers might want to look in the mirror to see if they bear any resemblance to the dumbed-down captain of the Axiom, since they seem to have missed the point of the film entirely. It’s as if you asked someone to comment on well-turned out creme brulee and all they can remark is that it doesn’t taste like the supermarket pudding they’re used to scarfing down. There are movies that cater to such philistines. Wall-E does not stoop to their level.

  • Victor Panlilio

    @iorek wrote:
    “My daughter remarked that Eve is designed like an Apple brand product. Any significance to that?”
    The appearance of EVE included creative input from Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Industrial Design. The film pays homage to Apple and Apple products in many ways, which is unsurprising, since Pixar owes its existence in part to the patronage of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple and now, the largest individual Disney shareholder.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much for your wonderful comments. You have a great deal of insight into this marvelous movie. You might be interested in this article about the Apple references and Easter eggs in the film: http://www.slashfilm.com/2008/06/27/wall-e-easter-eggs/

  • James

    jestrfyl: My apologies for not posting the link before, but I couldn’t find it at first. Here it is…and I’m linking you directly to page 2 of the interview, as the “Hello, Dolly!” question is the last one asked and answered.
    http://www.avclub.com/content/interview/andrew_stanton/2

  • Leon

    I hope I’m not considered a manchild but I’ll probably go see this one today. I’m interested in seeing the CGI. And I’m always attracted to a space theme.

  • NM

    THis is the best most intelligent movie I have seen in a long time.
    How do we help people get the meaning?

  • susan

    I was so excited to take my grandkids to this long awaited movie to only be GREATLY disappointed in Disney and Pixar for targeting children with messages that are meant for adults. I found that this movie was not appropriate for children as it sends messages to children that fat people are lazy and screen watchers, the government is not to be trusted and that it is okay to leave it up to one person (not as a collective) to make major changes for them. Through a child’s eyes the children in the movie were in bed type cages left with pacifiers and the adults sat around on chairs sucking their lunch through straws befitting fast food type cups. Leaving saving the world to one person and rogue robots only to find out that they are back at earth…planting plants on piles of trash with the hope it will grow “pizza”. Excuse me…what about education and adult accountability with the children in the movie.Yes, Wall-E is cute and it is the only thing in the movie that is. A great message for adults. Pixar should have geared it for the adult crowd and left the children to be children and believing in their possibilities and trusting adults who do shape this world.Saddly disappointed…yes animation is great…but totally would not recommend this for the children but please…all adults go. See where standing on the sidelines will get us…but leave the childen be children with hope. Goes to show you….don’t trust Pixar and Disney to leave the children to their dreams…or to content editing. Get involved!

  • Christine

    I am hugely disappointed in Disney/Pixar. This movie had my kids walking away saying hey mom. fat people are lazy coach potatoes. the reviewers said that most would go over young kids heads not true. They made humanity seem stupid, lazy, and incompetent from start to finish. Not the message you want your kids walking away with. Kids under 13 should have a magical childhood that fosters creativity, exploration, positive adult interaction and much more… Not something that attacks self esteem and provides a helpless feeling that only technology will save us. Kids are going to have a mess on their hands and they need to have creativity to solve it. Disney/Pixar had my complete trust to deliver a movie that has a great moral and story line for children. Not anymore. Again great movie for adults but leave the kids at home. It took me three hours to talk them through what Disney/Pixar presented. Even the political message was great for adults, so was the autopilot struggle, not for young kids.

  • im

    I am seventeen and giving a teen’s point of view. I took my siblings to watch this movie and they loved it. I know many adults who did not like wall-e simply because of the environmentalist agenda it was pushing. They did not even pay attention to the movie. My six year old sister didn’t catch the environmental message of the movie. It was a serious movie, which was unexpected, but wall-e lived up to its hype, and was very entertaining. My siblings and I loved the movie. Many movies have a moral to them, and Wall-e’s moral is that people need to pollute less, and exercise more. This is already being taught at schools so I do not see the problem of putting this message in a movie.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much, Susan, Christine, and IM. Your comments are most helpful. I see it differently that you do, though, Susan and Christine, and agree with IM. If you look at myths and fairy tales, even traditional lullabies, you will see that they began as ways of explaining the world to children and deal with the direst possible issues — jealousy, greed, loss, justice, ambition, and anger. Most of the Pixar movies are a big departure from the Disney classics when it comes to villains. The bad guys in Pixar films are not nearly as scary as Maleficent or Cruella DeVil. I think it is a good thing in a country where we have an unprecedented level of childhood obesity and inactivity to give children a gentle reminder of the importance of mental and physical exercise.
    I will have another post about this film and its messages up on the site later this week.

  • Rommy Driks

    I am a little surprised by the comments stating the movie was too dark and insensitve to overweight people.
    Too dark? As compared to what? Like it or not our children are getting messages about the environment being in peril – at school, on TV. Heck even Nick Jr had a Dora the Explorer episode dealing with cleaning up our trash for a better world. The environment and how we deal with it is a new “bogeyman” for kids and rather than end on a depressing note, the message was one of hope. I have seen far too many things with an environemental message come out far grimmer and darker than this. Here, the people made it back and started again, with the closing credits showing a lush beautiful Earth green and growing again.
    And the comment that the movie indicated only technology will save us is just silly. Yes, WALL-E, EVE and their merry band of rogue robots were instrumental in getting the point across. But it was the human captain that turned the ship around, wrestling control back from the autopilot who was in fact a piece of technology, as were the other robots who tried to stop WALL-E. Technology, when taken as a whole, was depicted as neutral, and it was the humans’ decisions and actions that made the difference in the end.
    It is horrible to show that the government can be wrong and a small group of people can affect change? Again, that gets covered in school. I know my kids learn about Rosa Parks in their elementary school. Things like this get talked about there folks.
    As for the argument about overweight people, if there were average/ underweight people on the starship and they were the only ones to act, then yes, there would be a point to that argument. Yes, some people are overweight due to medical conditions. But anyone leading a sedentary lifestyle (like the people on the ship) with a diet of only preprocessed food (again, like the people on the ship) is just going to put on weight. It’s a fact; even Angelina Jolie would gain weight under those conditions. That does not imply however that all overweight people are that way because they are sedentary (or lazy if you want to call it that). It’s sort of like using the reasoning if all spiders are arachnids all arachnids must be spiders. It just isn’t so.
    Yes, maybe you need to talk these things through with your kids. But since when is talking to them about the big issues a bad thing? In my life I’m going to be talking to them about a lot of biggies and although some of those talks are going to be tough, I welcome them as a chance to interact with my kids, to find out what it is that moves them and see how they feel about things. It’s the good conversations that come from movies, rather than movies themselves, that make memories and help us grow as a family.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much for these thoughtful comments, Rommy! You said it better than I could.
    The purpose of stories, whether movies made with the latest technology, parables from the Bible, or illustrated with cave paintings, is to help us understand our world, ourselves, and the challenges we face. Whether it is a prince fighting a dragon to save the princess, a young wizard taking on he-who-must-not-be-named, teenagers in love who want to be together though their families are enemies, or Noah in the ark, these stories help us think through issues of responsibility, integrity, courage, and love. Rommy is right that this movie’s message is one of hope, love, and renewal — of the planet and of the human spirit. Thanks so much for posting, Rommy, and I hope you will return often.

  • Stephanie

    Hi! It’s Stephanie again. Unlike what many people are saying Wall.e was an excellent movie! It was an adorable love story between two robots, and I don’t feel that the way that earth and humanity were portrayed were wrong at all. Not necesarily something that will happen realistically, but it added to the humor. As well as the many hidden Disney/Pixar easter eggs. The overweight people should not have been offensive to anyone.

  • Nell Minow

    I agree, Stephanie!

  • Amy

    I feel that this movie was completely anti American. I actually wondered if Michael Moore was the director. The issues of our world, and what we are doing to it is not only and American problem. This movie blatantly accused America (showing the American flag, only speaking English) I was floored when they stated “Blue was the New Red” My 10 year old son even got that it was a reference to Republican and Democrat ideals. I am tired of having Hollywoods Democratic agenda shoved down mine and my childrens throats. Yes I believe in cleaning the world and making a beautiful environment, but we are NOT the only ones destroying this planet. Lets look at China too.

  • Nell Minow

    This is a very interesting comment, Amy. As discussed in detail in a different blog post, while some have criticized the environmental message of the film as “leftist propaganda,” a number of conservative bloggers and columnists, including Beliefnet’s Crunchy Con, have claimed that the movie exemplifies conservative principles.
    I appreciate your taking the time to share your views.

  • Katherine

    This was a wonderful movie for all ages, not just K-third! My grandma, boyfriend and I went to see it, and I thought it would be another kiddie movie. It wasn’t! It was romanitc and funny, without the profanity that usually goes along with PG-13 romantic comedies. I will definately buy the DVD when it comes out.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Katherine, and you are right — I have adjusted the review to say “all ages.” It is a wonderful movie!

  • Josie Hanson

    Hi Movie Mom. I can not begin to say how accurate your review was, and I just would like to recommend this movie to everyone. When my little brother wanted to see it, I thought, “Oh great, a little kids movie.” Boy was I wrong! This movie was great! It made me cry, and I ended up enjoying it even more than my brother!
    The themes in this movie had a lot of meaning to them that moved me, such as the fact that humans can only begin to truly communicate when they unplug themselves from the media. There are certain movies that make you shudder with joy inside from the overall effect of how well the movie came together, and this was one of those productions!

  • Nell Minow

    Josie, thank you so much for a beautifully expressed comment. I am thrilled that you loved the movie and so happy you liked my review. Please visit often and let me know what you think of the movies you see.

  • James

    Amy: I’ve always wondered why people see Hollywood’s agenda as “Democratic” or “leftist”. Are the movie studios not giant corporations with money as the sole motivating factor for anything they do? Do you really see Disney as a left-leaning business enterprise?
    As for your argument about blue vs. red, remember that the only two passengers on the ship who remained wearing red were the “heroes” of the general populace. I won’t say any more for fear of spoiling the film, but I think when you take your disdain for the left out of the equation, you’ll see this movie was playing it entirely neutral.
    The message is simple, and it is targeted at an American/Western audience. It presents our lifestyles as sedentary and destructive and projects their influence 800 years into the future. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that things here need to change, and fast. Why does the film need to show what’s happening in China when we have yet to clean up our own backyard despite DECADES of warnings?
    I cannot stand partisanism. To me, it’s simply an excuse not to act.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much, James, for a terrific comment. It frustrates me terribly when people insist on pigeonholing everything as either “us” or “them,” especially when the “us” is so narrowly drawn. It also frustrates me that we seem to be stuck in some kind of culture mired somewhere between “ouch” and “gotcha,” with every single statement relegated to the categories of insult or triumph. There is no surer way to miss the point of art — and the point of life — than to try to squeeze out all nuance and complexity, the very things that illuminate universal truths and layers of meaning.
    This movie is not a political commercial (thank goodness). Sometimes, red and blue are just colors. In fact, they were colors a long time before they got arbitrarily assigned to election-night maps by the television networks, and they are not the property of the political process.
    This is a movie that imagines a touching and provocative future for humanity if we continue on our current path. You are right, James, that “well they began it,” or “they’re doing it, too” are never going to solve our problems. And most of all, you are right that this movie transcends the tiny little labels that people who can only see a narrow sliver of the spectrum try to put on them.

  • Toby Clark

    I can’t believe no one’s mentioned the short film at the start, “Presto.” I thought it was as hilarious as one of the classic Bugs Bunny/Yosemite Sam cartoons, and the best of the recent Pixar shorts, except maybe “Jack-Jack Attack.”
    I loved “WALL-E” as well, it was virtually flawless (except for the inconsistent usage of the fire extinguisher for propulsion), and I think it deserves to be nominated for Best Picture at the next Oscars, not just Best Animated Feature.

  • Nell Minow

    I did mention the short film in my review — it was one of their best! Great comparison to the Warner Brothers animation classics and I loved your comment. Thanks very much and I hope you will return often!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/disneyblu-raymovies Treasures By Brenda

    Another great review of another great movie! I’ve added a link to this page to my page about Disney blu-ray movies at http://www.squidoo.com/disneyblu-raymovies.
    Thanks!
    Brenda

  • Your Name

    Went to see Wall-E with 3 children (4/5 year olds) who got scared,crys,begging to leave so we left. The one robot wanting to :kill” the other robot continually. Granpa took the children and their cousin (9 yrs. old) to see Kung Fu Panda and I had to leave home to go pick them up. Saw Madagascar with a friend & her daughter who cryed, with her head in her moms chest because the baby lion had a large gun to his face. It was her 1st expieriance in a movie theatre(age 5)and she watches only Treehouse at home. I have similiar stories with other friends.I have been trying to find a movie I can take the children to. Any suggestions? Thank you so much.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    I don’t recommend theatrical releases for anyone under 5 — it is just too overwhelming an experience. Many kids are not ready for a big screen movie until they are 7 or 8. Children vary so dramatically. Some understand that it is all just pretend very early but others have so much empathy or imagination that they are very sensitive. I’d just wait until they are older.

  • anjel

    what did the characters do to solve the problem?

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