Some Thoughts on "Wall-E"
[Full disclosure: readers to this blog may remember a certain post in which I describe being fired from "Finding Nemo." The person who both fired and replaced me on that film was the director, Andrew Stanton, who is also the director of "Wall-E." Anything I say about "Wall-E" must be taken with a grain of salt considering my previous checkered history with Mr. Stanton. You can read that story here.]
Okay, so I went to see "Wall-E" today with my kids. First things first: this is a good movie, but not the over-the-top, mind-blowing extravanganza I was expecting based on the reviews. My quickie review: it's good, go see it, etc. But don't expect it to reveal any heretofore hidden truths about the nature of humanity.
Second things second: Pixar invested God knows how much money into a post-apocalyptic cartoon about a dead planet, a trash collecting robot, a laser-wielding ovoid, and co-starring a cockroach. Fun stuff. Humanity is presented as a morbidly obese race of self-destructive, loathsome blobs content to lounge around a cruise ship for seven hundred years, sucking french fries through straws, too lazy to even stand from a reclining position. This is a children's movie? Since when do kids love misanthropy? When did children start clamoring for movies about dystopia? When did the world's children all become French?
The movie seems to have a confused message. On the one hand, it blames humanity for the utter degradation and destruction of our planet. Then it turns around and, at the end, presents humanity as the planet's custodians after they return home and take up agrarian ways. Well what happens after that? A couple centuries later, won't they just fuck up the planet all over again? Why are we supposed to think that humanity has learned its lesson? The captain of the lone surviving vessel containing all of humanity didn't even know what a farm was until about twenty minutes before the movie ended. If he didn't, I'm guessing the other passengers on Spaceship Fatso didn't know much about cleaning up toxic waste sites and replacing them with smiling children and alfalfa sprouts. I give humanity about six months on that planet before they either die from starvation and disease, or decamp for the relative safety of deep space, which is presented as the ultimate trash-dumping frontier.
Then there is the love story, which centers around our hero Wall-E and his psycho enviromentalist girlfriend Eve. Eve is on a mission to find photosynthetic life on Earth. But she is also extremely trigger happy with her laser pistol, which raises a logic problem. What does Eve expect to find that necessitates killing? The only thing it (she) can kill is something that's alive. The only things that are alive require some sort of food. For any species that would present any kind of threat to Eve to survive on a dead planet for seven hundred years, it would need a regenerative food source. That food source could only be plant-based, which implies photosynthesis. Therefore any proof of large life on the planet is proof of photosynthesis. She shouldn't have to kill anything. She merely needs to record that life exists. So why is she hovering around shooting everything that moves? And why does our hero Wall-E fall for this psycopath? Is it the old "only if you were the last laser-wielding hoverbot on Earth" scenario? If that's the case, so be it, but God forbid he forgets to leave the toilet seat down one night.
Also, to nitpick some more because that's what I do - the end of the film kind of annoyed me. They employed the familiar third act Pixar blueprint, which is as follows: define a physical goal, throw innumerable insurmountable obstacles at our heroes, have each minor character play a part in overcoming said insurmountable obstacles, culminating with the antagonist sacrificing himself to finish the job. It's a tried and true formula and it works pretty well for them, but it's starting to wear a little thin for me.
As I said though, there is much to like about "Wall-E," including, oddly enough, Fred Willard. Fred Willard? Yeah. This film features some real, non-animated people, including Fred Willard, who plays the President of the evil corporation in the film, which has apparently taken over the entire planet, and which was also able, despite its horrible, malignant stewardship of the planet, to construct a self-sustaining luxury spaceship to warehouse humanity for seven hundred years while the planet heals itself. If they could do that, why couldn't they just clean up the planet in the first place? Anyway, Fred Willard is the head of that corporation, which I guess makes him the CEO of Earth. Which was a little weird. I mean, I like Fred Willard, but Fred Willard?
So if you go see "Wall-E," don't be surprised if you find yourself, as I did, wishing for all of humanity to just fucking die. Other than that, it's a fun time out with the kids.
[Note: I recognize this is the second post in a row in which I fantasize about the extinction of the human race. This is just a coincidence and in no way reflects my actual feelings about humanity, which is that I love us as a species and wish nothing but the best for us, unless, as I said previously, scientists accidentally create an Earth-eating black hole which destroys everything. And the only reason I wish for that is because, as I said, it would be awesome, and regular readers know that in my philosophy, awesomeness trumps all other considerations.]