Thursday, July 3, 2008

Wall-e is Right

Wall-e goes so far beyond the usual robot-with-a soul film that it transcends the medium.

It's social satire and commentary at the same time. A quirky little trash compactor, Wall-e loves old musicals, collects lots of spare parts and fills his days piling junk into skyscraper-high mountains. The earth at this point is virtually uninhabitable, save for his best friend (a cockroach) and one plant.

But wait, it gets grimmer. Once a scouting robot named Eve comes to search the earth for life, he falls in love with a seemingly unattainable beauty with disappearing arms and a nasty temper. She can fly, blow up ships and is rather testy. Nevertheless, Wall-e is smitten and follows her to the end of the universe.

They end up in a cruise ship where the passengers are so obese that they have lost the ability to walk. Fed by junk food supplied by the evil corporation that has sold them an unhealthy lifestyle for every waking hour, the corporation keeps them fat and stupid. Sound familiar? At this point, the satire became commentary.

It's only when Wall-e and Eve enter this space that they start to re-discover their humanity.

There are some musical homages to "2001: A Space Odyssey" and even "Hello, Dolly" enroute to an outright revolt against mindless consumerism and waste. It's a surprisingly moving film that sends its message along with charm and visual impact.

Director Andrew Stanton and the Pixar crew have shown us how little, lonely robots can nudge indolent couch potatoes into fighting for their humanity. This movie will have impact long after we cease to be amazed at computer animation, robotics or even space ships. As such, it's the best movie of this summer.

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