June 27, 2008


From Pixar, A Droid Piece of Filmmaking (John Anderson, 6/27/08, The Washington Post)

One of the summer's presumptive blockbuster-tentpole-hits-to-be, the Pixar film is clearly making co-producer/distributor Disney nervous. And it's not hard to see why. It's too good. Too smart. And, most importantly, too dark.

Set in a future where the Earth has become covered in trash, swept by monstrous, rumbling dust storms and whose only bona fide wildlife is the cockroach (a literally running gag), "WALL·E" refers to our hero -- a Waste Allocation Load Lifter, Earth class. The cute, mechanically chirping robot has been left behind to toil endlessly in the shadow of the planet's rubbish skyline, collecting garbage, compressing garbage, living his solitary life amid his amassed artifacts of bygone human society (a Rubik's cube, a flashbulb, a museum's worth of Zippo lighters).

Oh, yes -- and he ends each day growing misty-eyed (or misty-goggled) rewatching an old copy of "Hello, Dolly!"

It's embarrassing -- is this what would be left of us?

Adorably WALL-E: Pixar's latest creation may not be a favorite for the younger generation, but may attract an older audience. (Frederica Mathewes-Green, 6/27/08, National Review)
Apart from WALL-E and Eve, the most interesting character is the skipper of the Axiom, Captain McCrea. Portraits of the vessel’s previous captains line the walls of his cabin, and reveal that the human race has been becoming increasingly obese, soft, and baby-like. Captain McCrea can’t get into his uniform jacket, but wears it buttoned over the shoulders of his stretchy soft unitard, the garment worn by everyone on the spaceship. Contented humans have nothing to do but ride along in hoverchairs, gazing at personal video screens that serve all their entertainment and communication needs. They eat continually, sucking food from plastic cups through beverage straws (advertisements blare, “Lunch in a cup!” “Cupcake in a cup!”). They are barraged by commercials urging them to buy more, eat more, and hop on the latest fad. “Try blue! It’s the new red!” a voice announces, and instantly all the unitards turn blue. A cheery recorded voice calls out, “Consume again soon!”

But Captain McCrea is intrigued by the possibility that vegetable life is sprouting on earth, and begins to overcome his bloated passivity. He asks his computer to define terms like “dancing,” “farms,” and even “hoe down,” and views the images with increasing wonder. Entranced by earth’s fertility and beauty, he begins to consider the possibility of returning to inhabit the earth once more, planting “vegetable seeds and pizza seeds.” This dream is opposed by the ship’s auto-pilot, a HAL-like device called Auto (Otto?), which has a single glowing red eye. Their struggle for power supplies the closing conflict of the movie.

The conflict is somewhat ambiguous, though, because Auto has a pretty good argument on his side. The captain’s naiveté and ignorance would seem to make a return to earth disastrous. We’re given the further detail that centuries of reduced gravity have caused the human skeleton to become smaller and weaker; Captain McCrea’s feet and hands are little more than pudgy blobs. How could such people, with such disadvantages, thrive on earth? Wouldn’t a McCrea victory mean a defeat for humanity?

Well, it’s only a movie, of course. But I’ll urge you to stay for the closing credits, because they offer a resolution to that question that is not just ingenious but satisfying, as well as moving.

...but anecdotal evidence (our house) suggests they're eager to see it.

Zemanta Pixie

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 27, 2008 2:54 PM

It sounds like Idiocracy with less fawning adoration of eugenics and more robots.

Posted by: Bryan at June 27, 2008 3:18 PM

The schools are doing a great job brainwashing kids about the environment. My friend's son keep turning off lights I'm using and explaining that "just turning off one light for a year saves the life of a polar bear".

Posted by: Patrick H at June 27, 2008 4:06 PM

They eat continually, sucking food from plastic cups through beverage straws

Have you seen crowds in public places like airports? Half the people are carrying some sort of liquid in a container, or so it seems. At what point did we become unable to handle thirst for more than a few seconds? (Or is there something more Freudian going on...) But that whole paragraph sounds like it's describing your typical attendee at an Obama (pbuh) rally.

Oh, and I'm buying lots more lights and leaving them all on.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at June 27, 2008 4:18 PM

They gave our daughter a Vermont Teddy Bear for winning a school contest and it's a moon bear, because we're extincting them. So I told her VTB was killing and stuffing them to make toys....

Posted by: oj at June 27, 2008 7:03 PM

You actually let something from Vermont across the border?

I thought you had snipers trained on all the Connecticut River crossings.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 27, 2008 8:57 PM

Nah, we just let the bridges crumble.

Posted by: oj at June 27, 2008 11:04 PM

Maybe it's just the wordless trailer we saw, but my kids weren't much interested in it and we (the parents) thought it looked awful.

Posted by: David Hill, The Bronx at June 28, 2008 12:18 AM

Orrin & Jim:
Crumble like the practically brand-new Ledyard Bridge between Norwich and Hanover (with its big balls) for which NH paid 100% of the costs?
Besides, Tax-Free New Hampshire business owners make so much money from Vermont that they'd repair the bridges on their own dime if they had to.
Don't let anyone kid you (especially not Jersey boys like OJ), VT & NH are like an old married couple - they may bicker constantly, but they still couldn't bear life without each other.

Posted by: Bryan at June 28, 2008 7:09 AM

Got to be able to get to the farmer's market.

Posted by: oj at June 28, 2008 9:53 AM

I've walked from work to the Subaru dealer in Norwich (aka Those Bastards). It's quite a pleasant walk over the bridge.

Posted by: Bryan at June 28, 2008 11:37 AM
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