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2008, Kids & family/Adventure, 1h 37m
What to know
Wall-E 's stellar visuals testify once again to Pixar's ingenuity, while its charming star will captivate younger viewers -- and its timely story offers thought-provoking subtext. Read critic reviews
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WALL-E, short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class, is the last robot left on Earth. He spends his days tidying up the planet, one piece of garbage at a time. But during 700 years, WALL-E has developed a personality, and he's more than a little lonely. Then he spots EVE (Elissa Knight), a sleek and shapely probe sent back to Earth on a scanning mission. Smitten WALL-E embarks on his greatest adventure yet when he follows EVE across the galaxy.
Genre: Kids & family, Adventure, Sci-fi, Comedy, Animation
Original Language: English
Director: Andrew Stanton
Producer: Jim Morris
Writer: Andrew Stanton , Jim Reardon
Release Date (Theaters): Jun 27, 2008 wide
Release Date (Streaming): Nov 18, 2008
Runtime: 1h 37m
Distributor: Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney
Sound Mix: SDDS, Dolby Digital, DTS
View the collection: Pixar
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Pixar’s “WALL-E” succeeds at being three things at once: an enthralling animated film, a visual wonderment and a decent science-fiction story. After “ Kung Fu Panda ,” I thought I had just about exhausted my emergency supply of childlike credulity, but here is a film, like “ Finding Nemo ,” that you can enjoy even if you’ve grown up. That it works largely without spoken dialogue is all the more astonishing; it can easily cross language barriers, which is all the better, considering that it tells a planetary story.
It is 700 years in the future. A city of skyscrapers rises up from the land. A closer view reveals that the skyscrapers are all constructed out of garbage, neatly compacted into squares or bales and piled on top of one another. In all the land, only one creature stirs. This is WALL-E, the last of the functioning solar-powered robots. He — the story leaves no doubt about gender — scoops up trash, shovels it into his belly, compresses it into a square and climbs on his tractor treads and heads up a winding road to the top of his latest skyscraper, to place it neatly on the pile.
It is lonely being WALL-E. But does WALL-E even know that? He comes home at night to a big storage area, where he has gathered a few treasures from his scavengings of the garbage and festooned them with Christmas lights. He wheels into his rest position, takes off his treads from his tired wheels and goes into sleep mode. Tomorrow is another day: One of thousands since the last humans left the Earth and settled into orbit aboard gigantic spaceships that resemble spas for the fat and lazy.
One day WALL-E’s age-old routine is shattered. Something new appears in his world, which otherwise has consisted only of old things left behind. This is, to our eye, a sleek spaceship. To WALL-E’s eyes, who knows? What with one thing and another, WALL-E is scooped up by the ship and returned to the orbiting spaceship Axiom, along with his most recent precious discovery: a tiny, perfect green plant, which he found growing in the rubble and transplanted to an old shoe.
Have you heard enough to be intrigued, or do you want more? Speaking voices are now heard for the first time in the movie, although all on his own, WALL-E has a vocabulary (or repertory?) of squeaks, rattles and electronic purrs, and a couple of pivoting eyes that make him look downright anthropomorphic. We meet a Hoverchair family, so known because aboard ship they get around in comfy chairs that hover over surfaces and whisk them about effortlessly. They’re all as fat as Susie’s aunt.
This is not entirely their fault, since generations in the low-gravity world aboard the Axiom have evolved humanity into a race whose members resemble those folks you see whizzing around Wal-Mart in their electric shopping carts.
There is now a plot involving WALL-E, the ship’s captain, several Hover people and the fate of the green living thing. And in a development that would have made Sir Arthur Clarke’s heart beat with joy, humanity returns home once again — or is that a spoiler?
The movie has a wonderful look. Like so many of the Pixar animated features, it finds a color palette that’s bright and cheerful, but not too pushy, and a tiny bit realistic at the same time. The drawing style is Comic Book Cool, as perfected in the funny comics more than in the superhero books: Everything has a stylistic twist to give it flair. And a lot of thought must have gone into the design of WALL-E, for whom I felt a curious affection. Consider this hunk of tin beside the Kung Fu Panda. The panda was all but special-ordered to be lovable, but on reflection, I think he was so fat, it wasn’t funny anymore. WALL-E, however, looks rusty and hard-working and plucky, and expresses his personality with body language and (mostly) with the binocular-like video cameras that serve as his eyes. The movie draws on a tradition going back to the earliest days of Walt Disney , who reduced human expressions to their broadest components and found ways to translate them to animals, birds, bees, flowers, trains and everything else.
What’s more, I don’t think I’ve quite captured the film’s enchanting storytelling. Directed and co-written by Andrew Stanton , who wrote and directed “Finding Nemo,” it involves ideas, not simply mindless scenarios involving characters karate-kicking each other into high-angle shots. It involves a little work on the part of the audience, and a little thought, and might be especially stimulating to younger viewers. This story told in a different style and with a realistic look could have been a great science-fiction film. For that matter, maybe it is.
Note: The movie is preceded by “Presto,” a new Pixar short about a disagreement over a carrot between a magician and his rabbit.
Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.
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Matt zoller seitz.
Ben Burtt as Wall-E
Elissa Knight as Eve
Fred Willard as Shelby
Jeff Garlin as Captain
John Ratzenberger as John
Kathy Najimy as Mary
Sigourney Weaver as Computer
Kim Kopf as Hoverchair mom
Garrett Palmer as Hoverchair son
- Andrew Stanton
- Jim Reardon
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Common Sense says
Brainy, charming, eco-friendly animated adventure.
Based on 134 reviews
Based on 244 reviews
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A lot or a little.
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although this winning Pixar adventure is thoroughly charming and, yes, romantic, the youngest viewers may get a little restless during WALL-E 's atmospheric, virtually dialogue-free first half-hour. They'll still enjoy it, but -- unlike older kids and grown-ups -- they won't be that impressed by how much is said with so few words. But the action (which includes some robot fights, weapons being fired, explosions, and chase scenes) picks up soon enough. Underlying the whole thing are strong environmental messages: Reduce, reuse, recycle, and think about what you're doing to the planet (and yourself).
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The bigger message, what's the story.
WALL-E begins on an Earth centuries in the future. It's a bleak, garbage-strewn place whose only citizen seems to be WALL-E (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class), a sanitation robot who's improbably enamored of the musical Hello, Dolly! Then one day, a spaceship drops in for a pit stop and leaves behind an egg-shaped robot. Her name is EVE, and she's sleek, speedy, and stunning -- and WALL-E is immediately smitten. But before the two can make beautiful musicals together, an unexpected discovery hurtles her back to mankind's current home: a giant spaceship called Axiom, where humans float on personal hovercrafts, interact with others via screen phones, and have grown so obese and sedentary that they've forgotten how to walk. Determined not to lose his new companion, WALL-E follows EVE to the ship -- and sets in motion a chain of events that just might put people back on a healthier path.
Is It Any Good?
This Pixar masterpiece manages to be profoundly moving and thought-provoking, yet still entertaining. Who would've expected that from an animated feature with stretches of near-silence, a deeply intellectual and ecological bent, and a robot with relatively few bells and whistles? Much of the credit is due to Andrew Stanton , who directed and cowrote (with Jim Reardon) the movie, which takes Pixar's success in turning out animated hits to the next level. Gorgeously detailed and, more important, ambitiously challenging, WALL-E is cinematic art -- especially early on, when WALL-E, alone on Earth, plays with his trusty cockroach sidekick, or, later, courts a reluctant EVE. They interact as if in an intricately choreographed silent movie, or, yes, a musical: She's aloof, he's smitten; she's distant, he's bowled over. (Kudos to Ben Burtt for adding such emotion to WALL-E's squeaks and bleeps.)
Early scenes in which WALL-E wonders at the detritus of human life -- a velvet box holding a diamond, a rubber duckie, a spork -- are especially poignant, particularly when juxtaposed against the massive pile of waste he's meant to tame. The movie's pro-planet message is hardly subtle, but it feels refreshing to see an animated film take a stand about a political and social issue. The virtually dialogue-free first act may stretch a bit too long for younger audiences -- even though they'll benefit from being given a green lesson in such a lively, fun package -- but they'll get the animated action-adventure they crave soon enough. By the end, WALL-E feels less artsy and more like the typical Pixar film -- not that there's anything wrong with that.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about WALL-E 's messages. What is it saying about the media's effect on people? Do you think the future humans in the movie were exaggerated to be funny, or could that really happen? How is satire employed to drive home the movie's message on the environment and big business?
This film contains very little dialogue early in the movie. What do you think would be the challenges in making a movie about a robot who doesn't speak English (or any human language) whose only friend at first is a roach?
Why is WALL-E so fascinated by Hello, Dolly ? What does he learn from the movie?
Why is WALL-E so eager to make a connection with EVE? How does he win her over?
How do the characters in WALL-E demonstrate perseverance , courage , and teamwork ? Why are these important character strengths ?
- In theaters : June 27, 2008
- On DVD or streaming : November 17, 2008
- Cast : Fred Willard , Jeff Garlin , Sigourney Weaver
- Director : Andrew Stanton
- Studio : Pixar Animation Studios
- Genre : Family and Kids
- Topics : Adventures , Friendship , Robots , Space and Aliens
- Character Strengths : Courage , Perseverance , Teamwork
- Run time : 103 minutes
- MPAA rating : G
- Last updated : February 18, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Cute rat tale has some peril and potentially scary moments.
Sweet father-son tale has some very scary moments.
Families will cherish Chaplin's silent slapstick.
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A Film Review: WALL-E
President & CEO Lance Hosey: Around the time of WALL-E’s release, Lance Hosey provided a commentary on the film for his monthly column in Architect magazine. Below is an excerpt of his article “Blight Future: Does WALL-E Foretell Our Future, or is Idiocracy Closer to the Truth?”
Sustainable design aims to safeguard the future of the Earth as environmentalists worry about the effects of melting ice caps, ozone depletion, and species eradication. Even bleaker, however, imagine a future where our garbage has piled so high and wide that there is no room left for anything else—including us.
That is the premise of WALL-E , the latest bit of genius from animation studio Pixar. Hundreds of years from now, the entire planet has become an immense landscape of litter. Humans have long since quit the Earth, which is left to be tended by the title character, an adorable little sanitation robot whose name stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class. Fritting about in this vast junkyard, WALL-E painstakingly stacks up ziggurats of trash, skyscrapers of scrap, whole cities of refuse.
Is a waste-filled future so far-fetched? In the United States alone, some 40 million plastic bottles get tossed out every day, and only a fraction of this is recycled. Until it shut down in 2001, the Fresh Kills landfill on New York’s Staten Island threatened to become the highest elevation on the East Coast. A footprint of nearly five square miles and 650 tons of rubbish shipped in daily made it possibly the biggest manmade structure in the world, larger in volume than the Great Wall of China. Fresh Kills opened only 60 years ago—what will the world look like several centuries from now? Read More
Director of External Relations Erin Malec: If you haven’t yet seen WALL-E , you may be skeptical that an animated film about a trash compactor robot in a post-apocalyptic worlds could be so human. But WALL-E is one of the most touching and heartfelt films I’ve seen. It’s R2D2 meets The Lorax with an unconventional love story thrown in.
I love that the film shows us the best and worst of what humans have to offer. At our worst, it’s sadly easy to imagine how our obsession with bigger and more—regardless to outcome or impact—could destroy the world. And the film also shows us the potential for our best, whether it’s our capacity for love via two charming robots named WALL-E and EVE, or our ability to hope and make the future better as seen through a single green leaf.
Communications Designer Stephanie Fishwick: I had seen WALL-E when it came out in the theatre and loved it. I remembered that it was a powerful message and a beautiful animated film. I’m glad I was able to watch it again during our monthly film screening. If you haven’t seen it, or haven’t watched it in a while I would suggest giving it another viewing.
WALL-E is a film with a very clear message: We make and use too much stuff and if we keep going down this path, eventually our planet be overwhelmed with toxicity and threaten every life form to extinction. The way the film plays out this heavy-handed narrative is, surprisingly, not overbearing because it does so with the use of cute robots you can’t help but love. Employing clever story telling, WALL-E gives us a glimpse of our planet literally full up on trash. Recliner-bound humans live in space on a cruise-type ship Star Trek style, but so not. In one compelling scene the captain goes down a rabbit hole of “Wikipedia” like references, learning about the earth and his ancestors; dancing, pizza and farming are among some of the things that awaken a desire in him to take humans back to earth.
I would say that the film is an artistic representation of a common message we are all accustomed to hearing and delivering as people passionate about sustainability. From a messaging standpoint it is interesting to think about how art and film can be used to further tell this crucial story without being cliché or muddying facts. What is clear to all of us is that something has to change. I found myself thinking at the end of WALL-E , “What can we do to make sure this doesn’t ever happen?”
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- Animation , Comedy , Drama , Kids , Sci-Fi/Fantasy
- Voices of Ben Burtt as WALL-E; Elissa Knight as EVE; Jeff Garlin as The Captain; Fred Willard as Buy n Large CEO Shelby Forthright; John Ratzenberger as John; Kathy Najimy as Mary; Sigourney Weaver as Ship's Computer
Home Release Date
- Andrew Stanton
- Walt Disney
Seven hundred years after humankind fled its refuse-strewn planet, one robot remains: WALL-E. Each day the diligent bot—whose name stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class—charges his solar-powered batteries and gets to work cleaning up the global landfill that is humanity’s messy legacy. His trash-compactor torso crunches garbage into cubes, which WALL-E artfully stacks as high as skyscrapers. Occasionally, bits of castoff flotsam catch his eye: a Rubik’s Cube. A light bulb. Forks. And … a small plant. So he stores them away inside the decrepit industrial vehicle he calls home.
WALL-E’s only companions? A good-natured cockroach and a beloved, ancient VHS copy of Hello Dolly . The latter he watches nearly every day: WALL-E pines for the love he observes between the movie’s main characters. And his wish comes true the day a rocket unexpectedly thunders down on top of him and dispatches a pretty, sleek and mysterious “female” robot dubbed EVE (for Extraterrestrial Vegetative Evaluator). WALL-E watches in wonder as EVE scans one object after another and as she flits this way and that. She’s obviously looking for something, but to no avail.
It’s not long before the pair o’ bots meet—an event that’s almost WALL-E’s undoing since EVE has an off-putting habit of blasting potential threats into smithereens. Still, WALL-E is smitten, and he gives her the plant he’s found as a gift. Her digital eyes light up! It’s her holy grail. Soon a rocket returns to whisk her back to where she came from—with WALL-E tenaciously clinging to the craft’s exterior lest he be separated from his new love.
Their destination is an ark-like spaceship carrying humanity’s remnants, who have grown obese and utterly self-absorbed as robots tend to their every need. WALL-E and EVE’s arrival turns everything topsy-turvy—helping a few humans realize the time has come to re-colonize Earth.
One of the first virtues showcased by Pixar’s latest is a good work ethic. WALL-E has been alone for who knows how long. But the lack of accountability doesn’t stop him from doing his junkyard job every day. WALL-E knows what his purpose is, and he dutifully fulfills it. Likewise, even though EVE is curious about WALL-E, she, too, is dedicated to her directive of finding vegetative life. Once the robots hit it off, they’re equally dedicated to protecting and rescuing each other from the perils that follow.
Without jabbing its thumb too fiercely into moviegoers’ chests, the film skewers our consumer culture and the damaging effects of over-consumption. A big-box corporation satirically dubbed Buy n Large has taken over and directs virtually every aspect of humanity. Constant commercials and enormous Blade Runner -like billboards have utterly numbed humanity’s soul. The corporation’s motto? “We Want More for You.” It’s an attitude that’s obviously made Earth unlivable. And once WALL-E and EVE reach the humans’ spaceship, the Axiom, we see the next result: enormously overweight people who ride around on floating, car-ish electro-couches with a computer screen forever in front of them. When a few folks fall off these carts, robots have to help the poor “beached whales” back on.
WALL-E and EVE’s adventures on the Axiom impact three humans in particular. John and Mary get bumped out of their routines and look up from their computer screens for seemingly the first time ever. They notice the beauty of the stars, and they discover one another. For them, it’s akin to waking from a dream to soak up the sunshine of a beautiful morning.
The third human nudged out of his consumerist stupor is the ship’s captain. EVE’s arrival with a live plant automatically activates the ship’s preprogrammed directive to return to humanity’s home. It also births in the captain an intense interest in his race’s history, which neither he nor the ship’s passengers know anything about. The captain becomes especially engrossed with the idea of plants and farming.
So when a dastardly, HAL 9000-esque robot named Auto tries to keep the ship from returning to Earth, the captain, John, Mary, WALL-E and EVE join forces to change the course of humankind’s destiny.
WALL-E doesn’t have any explicit spiritual content. But several story elements symbolically allude to Genesis. There’s EVE’s name for starters. And WALL-E, like Adam, is lonely and desires companionship. He’s also the sole caretaker, again like Adam, of a planet in need of good stewardship. Then there’s the fact that humanity evaded Earth’s eco-apocalypse aboard a giant space ark. And the Genesis flood story gets echoed again when EVE is sent to look for evidence of plant life that would indicate that it’s safe for humans to re-open the ark’s doors.
Never mind that 700-year-old fabric wouldn’t still be … fabric, WALL-E humorously discovers a bra in the trash and puts it on over his camera-lens eyes. He and EVE hold hands, er, claws , and share something akin to innocent kisses. (Their heads briefly bonk as they lean into each other.) John and Mary hold hands, too.
Moments of intense-but-cartoonish peril and violence, usually played for humor, pulse through WALL-E . The little robot almost gets pinned beneath EVE’s rocket when it lands. Before she knows what (who) WALL-E is, EVE repeatedly fires powerful blasts his direction, vaporizing rocks and leaving WALL-E shaking in terror. One of the robot’s camera-lens eyes pops off and dangles uselessly. And he is almost crushed (but EVE revives him).
Just as R2-D2 constantly got knocked around in the Star Wars movies, so WALL-E is continuously on the receiving end of all manner of hits and scrapes (like getting pinned to a glass door by a horde of shopping carts). He barely makes it out of an escape pod before it self-destructs in a massive fireball. Lightning strikes him.
WALL-E mistakenly thinks a diagnostic test being run on EVE is torturing her. And WALL-E is tortured with a surge of electricity. Elsewhere, the captain battles Auto for control of the ship’s bridge. And when the Axiom pitches over unexpectedly, its passengers all roll down the slope of a large open deck, crashing into one another. (John and Mary join hands to protect several roly-poly infants.)
WALL-E runs over his cockroach friend twice. And EVE blasts the critter. But being a cockroach, it’s fine. A room full of defective robots run amok, often crashing into other bots.
Crude or Profane Language
“Heck,” “darn,” “golly” and an unfinished “what the …”
Drug and Alcohol Content
There’s no drug or alcohol content, but WALL-E does have a fondness for collecting cigarette lighters he finds in the trash.
Lately, every time I go to a Pixar movie I wonder, How are they going to make this idea work? How interesting could a rat in Paris possibly be, for example? Or a self-absorbed race car? I’m not always convinced ahead of time that ideas like these are strong enough to carry a 90-minute movie.
But I’m always wrong.
And so it is again with WALL-E —a feature film about robots who don’t even talk! Yep, Pixar has yanked yet another rabbit out of its animation hat. With style, I might add. And for me, in fact, WALL-E may actually be the studio’s best work.
Scenes evoke a sense of awestruck wonder, innocence and a childlike sense of possibility—such as when WALL-E reaches curiously into the dust that makes up one of Saturn’s rings, or when he and EVE enjoy a ballet-like dance in space. You can’t help but grin, and you don’t have to worry that this joyful stuff is going to get polluted by some unnecessarily gross gag in the very next scene. The movie’s edgiest element, after all, is WALL-E blinding himself with a bra. And while its G-rated action includes explosions, robot chases and a few perilous moments for our mini mechanical friends, there’s nothing here that should make even a kindergartner cry.
Some credit for these cinematic virtues must go to the film’s director, 42-year-old Andrew Stanton, who told Christianity Today , “They tell you that as a storyteller, it’s vital to just stick with and be honest with your values system. The last thing I want to do is go to a movie and feel like I’m being preached at. … I think it’s more honest—and you’re going to have more effect—to be truthful with the values of your characters. … That was the case with WALL-E . The greatest commandment is to love one another, and to me, that’s the ultimate purpose of living. So that was the perfect goal for the loneliest robot on Earth, to learn the greatest commandment, to learn to love.”
So, without being preachy, Stanton’s film gently uses hyperbole to critique consumerism and demonstrate the importance of environmental care along with the value of hard work. It posits a future in which everyone’s more than a little heavy, sure, and it’s already being tweaked for appearing to be insensitive in this area. It’s like the New York Post ‘s Kyle Smith writes on his kylesmithonline.com blog, “Those potato-y people of the future seemed uncomfortably close to paying guests of Walt Disney World, passively absorbing entertainment in a sterile, climate-controlled, completely artificial wonderland that profits from everything they eat, see or do.”
Stanton’s take? “I wasn’t trying to make the humans into fat, lazy consumers,” he told Christianity Today , “but to make humanity appear to be completely consumed by everything that can distract you—to the point where they lost connection with each other, even though they’re right next to each other. The reason I made them look like big babies was because a NASA guy told me that they haven’t yet simulated gravity perfectly for long-term residency in space. And if they don’t get it just right, atrophy kicks in and you begin to lose your muscle tone—you just turn into a blob of goo.”
That’s not the core of the WALL-E story, anyway. This isn’t a post-apocalyptic sermon determined to blast overweight moviegoers. It’s the love story of two adorable robots who discover what it means to take care of one another. And along the milky way, they remind humanity what it means to be human.
Adam R. Holz
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.
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By A.O. Scott
- June 27, 2008
The first 40 minutes or so of “Wall-E” in which barely any dialogue is spoken, and almost no human figures appear on screen is a cinematic poem of such wit and beauty that its darker implications may take a while to sink in. The scene is an intricately rendered city, bristling with skyscrapers but bereft of any inhabitants apart from a battered, industrious robot and his loyal cockroach sidekick. Hazy, dust-filtered sunlight illuminates a landscape of eerie, post-apocalyptic silence. This is a world without people, you might say without animation, though it teems with evidence of past life.
We’ve grown accustomed to expecting surprises from Pixar, but “Wall-E” surely breaks new ground. It gives us a G-rated, computer-generated cartoon vision of our own potential extinction. It’s not the only film lately to engage this somber theme. As the earth heats up, the vanishing of humanity has become something of a hot topic, a preoccupation shared by directors like Steven Spielberg (“A.I.”), Francis Lawrence (“I Am Legend”), M. Night Shyamalan (“The Happening”) and Werner Herzog. In his recent documentary “Encounters at the End of the World” Mr. Herzog muses that “the human presence on this planet is not really sustainable,” a sentiment that is voiced, almost verbatim, in the second half of “Wall-E.” When the whimsical techies at Pixar and a moody German auteur are sending out the same message, it may be time to pay attention.
Not that “Wall-E” is all gloom and doom. It is, undoubtedly, an earnest (though far from simplistic) ecological parable, but it is also a disarmingly sweet and simple love story, Chaplinesque in its emotional purity. On another level entirely it’s a bit of a sci-fi geek-fest, alluding to everything from “2001” and the “Alien” pictures (via a Sigourney Weaver voice cameo) to “Wallace and Gromit: A Grand Day Out.” But the movie it refers to most insistently and overtly is, of all things, “Hello, Dolly!,” a worn videotape that serves as the title character’s instruction manual in matters of choreography and romance.
That old, half-forgotten musical, with its Jerry Herman lyrics crooned by, among others, Louis Armstrong, is also among Wall-E’s mementos of, well, us. He is a dented little workhorse who, having outlasted his planned obsolescence, spends his days in the Sisyphean, mechanical labor of gathering and compacting garbage. His name is an acronym for Waste Allocation Load Lifter- Earth Class. But not everything he finds is trash to Wall-E. In the rusty metal hulk where he and the cockroach take shelter from dust storms, he keeps a carefully sorted collection of treasures, including Zippo lighters, nuts and bolts, and a Rubik’s Cube.
Wall-E’s tender regard for the material artifacts of a lost civilization is understandable. After all, he too is a product of human ingenuity. And the genius of “Wall-E,” which was directed by the Pixar mainstay Andrew Stanton, who wrote the screenplay with Jim Reardon, lies in its notion that creativity and self-destruction are sides of the same coin. The human species was driven off its home planet Wall-E eventually learns that we did not die out by an economy consecrated to the manufacture and consumption of ever more stuff. But some of that stuff turned out to be useful, interesting, and precious. And some of it may even possess something like a soul.
Observing Wall-E’s surroundings, the audience gleans that, in some bygone time, a conglomerate called BnL (for “Buy N Large”) filled the earth with megastores and tons of garbage. Eventually the corporation loaded its valued customers onto a space station (captained by Jeff Garlin), where they have evolved into fat, lazy leisure addicts serviced by a new generation of specialized machines. One of these, a research probe named Eve (all of the robot names are acronyms as well as indicators of theoretical gender) drops to Earth and wins Wall-E’s heart.
Their courtship follows some familiar patterns. If “Wall-E” were a romantic comedy, it would be about a humble garbageman who falls for a supermodel who also happens to be a top scientist with a knack for marksmanship. (I’m pretty sure I reviewed that a while back, but the title escapes me.) Wall-E is a boxy machine of the old school, with creaks and clanks and visible rivets, his surface pocked with dents and patches of rust. He is steadfast, but not always clever or cool. Eve, shaped like an elongated egg, is as cool as the next iPhone and whisper quiet, unless she’s excited, in which case she has a tendency to blow things up. She and Wall-E communicate in chirps and beeps that occasionally coalesce into words. Somehow their expressions of desire, irritation, indifference, devotion and anxiety, all arranged in delicate counterpoint achieve an otherworldly eloquence.
That they are endowed with such rich humanity is as much a Pixar trademark as the painstakingly modeled surfaces or the classical virtual camerawork and editing. The technical resourcefulness that allows “Wall-E” to leap effortlessly from the derelict Earth to the pristine atmosphere of the space station is matched by the rigorous integrity the filmmakers bring to the characters and the themes.
Rather than turn a tale of environmental cataclysm into a scolding, self-satisfied lecture, Mr. Stanton shows his awareness of the contradictions inherent in using the medium of popular cinema to advance a critique of corporate consumer culture. The residents of the space station, accustomed to being tended by industrious robots, have grown to resemble giant babies, with soft faces, rounded torsos and stubby, weak limbs. Consumer capitalism, anticipating every possible need and swaddling its subjects in convenience, is an infantilizing force. But as they cruise around on reclining chairs, eyes fixed on video screens, taking in calories from straws sticking out of giant cups, these overgrown space babies also look like moviegoers at a multiplex.
They’re us, in other words. And like us, they’re not all bad. The paradox at the heart of “Wall-E” is that the drive to invent new things and improve the old ones to buy and sell and make and collect creates the potential for disaster and also the possible path away from it. Or, put another way, some of the same impulses that fill the world of “Wall-E” our world with junk can also fill it with art.
Opens on Friday nationwide.
Directed by Andrew Stanton; written by Mr. Stanton and Jim Reardon, based on a story by Mr. Stanton and Pete Docter; director of photography, camera, Jeremy Lasky; director of photography, lighting, Danielle Feinberg; edited by Stephen Schaffer; music by Thomas Newman; production designer, Ralph Eggleston; produced by Jim Morris; released by Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios. Running time: 1 hour 37 minutes. This film is rated G.
WITH THE VOICES OF: Ben Burtt (Wall-E/M-O), Elissa Knight (Eve), Jeff Garlin (Captain), Fred Willard (Shelby Forthright/BnL C.E.O.), Macintalk (Auto), John Ratzenberger (John), Kathy Najimy (Mary) and Sigourney Weaver (Ship’s Computer).
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‘wall-e’: thr’s 2008 review.
On June 27, 2008, Pixar unveiled a sci-fi adventure that would become a summer hit with critics and audiences.
By Kirk Honeycutt
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On June 27, 2008, Pixar unveiled WALL-E, a sci-fi adventure that would become a summer hit with critics and audiences. The Hollywood Reporter’s original review is below:
This is getting to sound like a broken record: Pixar Animation Studios has just topped itself. Again.
In WALL-E , following the sublime culinary slapstick of Ratatouille , Pixar and director-writer Andrew Stanton — officially the studio’s ninth employee way back when — have spun a whimsical sci-fi fantasy about robots 800 years into the future that has all the heart, soul, spirit and romance of the very best silent movies 80 years ago. Well, you don’t expect robots to talk, do you? While the soundtrack is full of clanking noises, explosions, music and even dance numbers, there is little dialogue as such to get this story told. Stanton and his animation team punch across their terrific (and ecologically sound!) story by inventing a visual and aural language with which these robotic creatures can express a rainbow of emotions.
'east of eden': thr's 1955 review, 'the wedding singer': thr's 1998 review.
The film is so clever and sophisticated that you worry, slightly, that it might be too clever to connect with mainstream audiences. But like those worries last year that having a rat for a hero in Ratatouille might throw off audiences, surely WALL-E will make that connection. It’s so sweet and funny that the multitudes undoubtedly will surrender to its many charms.
A trashed and toxic Earth has been abandoned by mankind centuries ago, but somebody forgot to turn off the last robot. That would be WALL-E (an acronym that stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class), a mobile trash compactor who goes about his job decade after decade. He has even developed a storage system so he can self-replace his parts. His only companion is a cockroach. Well, you knew that creature would survive anything.
Mankind, grown fat and lazy after centuries of floating like lotus eaters in a Club Med spaceship above Earth, sends a probe to search for signs of life on the abandoned planet. That would be EVE (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator). WALL-E develops a mighty crush on EVE, though her fearsome temper — she tends to blast anything that moves — makes him shy. But their romance, an innocence in the unlikeliest of places, blossoms. WALL-E even shows her his little green plant.
His little what? That’s the very thing she’s been looking for! That plant launches the couple on an epic journey to the Axiom spaceship, where with other “rogue robots” they overthrow a robotic controlled civilization and galvanize humans — more robotic than the actual robots — into something approaching life.
The visual design of WALL-E is arguably Pixar’s best. Stanton, who wrote the script with Jim Reardon from a story he concocted with Peter Docter , creates two fantastically imaginative, breathtakingly lit worlds — a wretched, destroyed Earth city, not unlike Manhattan, and the spaceship where humans hover in floating couches, their bloated body fat encasing virtually useless bones, while an intricate series of robots perform all labor and a 3D Internet is the chief form of human communication.
The real stroke of brilliance, though, is the use of old movie footage, mixed in with the CG animation, to trigger WALL-E’s romantic yearnings. After work, WALL-E endlessly watches a videotape from the 1969 movie Hello, Dolly! Its musical imagery and two songs make him understand what love and passion mean. He even learns how to hold hands, something he is finally able to try out with EVE.
Sound designer Ben Burtt creates expressive sounds given off by the robots, and in particular WALL-E, that you would swear are voices speaking words. If there is such a thing as an aural sleight of hand, this is it.
There are lifts from 2001 — acknowledged as such with a wink by the filmmakers — as there are moments when the robots run riot that remind you of Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. Yet WALL-E is just possibly the studio’s most original work yet. Can they really top this? — Kirk Honeycutt , originally published June 25, 2008.
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WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) is doing his job on Earth in 2775, picking up garbage but his curiosity often delays his work as he finds fascinating objects. The robot finds interesting items like a Rubik’s Cube, an old video tape of “Hello Dolly” (he loves the music from the film) and popping paper. When he sees a couple singing to each other in “Hello Dolly”, he realizes he is lonely.
Soon Eve enters (WALL-E calls her Eva) as a probe droid, sent to earth to search for plant life. The earth has been through an obvious catastrophe and the present day humans are dwelling in space, hoping to eventually return to earth. Lonely WALL-E falls for Eve and introduces her to the fun of popping the popping paper and watching “Hello Dolly” on video. She likes him too but soon the space ship which returns for her leads them both from earth, but will their destinies remain entwined?
This is a cute story with several humorous moments and the audience of all ages I screened it with seemed to genuinely enjoy it. There are no scenes which are overly intense, the worse being when it momentarily appears a main robot might have passed on. Pixar always does a great job with the animation and we happily award “WALL-E” our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal. Take your family on this exciting adventure with WALL-E – it is a trip you will not soon forget.
Dove Rating Details
A robot tries to destroy an insect who is seen as a funny character in the film; a rebellion by the auto-pilot system against the captain; the main character is banged up a few times.
A male and female robot "kiss" a couple of times.
Some champagne is seen during a celebration scene.
Several characters are overweight from letting computers do everything for them; at one point in the film it appears a main character has passed on.
Film information, dove content.
Critic Reviews for WALL-E · The tale of a trash compactor from the future who's desperate for connection isn't just one of Pixar's unlikeliest successes, but its
Like so many of the Pixar animated features, it finds a color palette that's bright and cheerful, but not too pushy, and a tiny bit realistic at
WALL-E is filled with bland colors of a trash covered Earth and then exhilarating bright colors of stars with galaxies leading to the mysteriously unknown. This
Even on top of the action, the emotion, the visuals and the humor, Wall-E goes the extra mile into thought-provoking thematic territory. The film never hits you
In Pixar's hands? "Wall-E" is an emotionally resonant and breathtakingly beautiful film accessible to adults and children alike with moments of silliness
WALL-E, a computer-animated science fiction film by Pixar set in the distant future, takes place in a world that has become engulfed by trash due to decades of
The movie's edgiest element, after all, is WALL-E blinding himself with a bra. And while its G-rated action includes explosions, robot chases and a few perilous
We've grown accustomed to expecting surprises from Pixar, but “Wall-E” surely breaks new ground. It gives us a G-rated, computer-generated
The real stroke of brilliance, though, is the use of old movie footage, mixed in with the CG animation, to trigger WALL-E's romantic yearnings.
This is a cute story with several humorous moments and the audience of all ages I screened it with seemed to genuinely enjoy it. There are no scenes which are