Trash and Treasure
by Betty Jo Tucker
One personвЂ™s trash is another personвЂ™s treasure, so the old saying goes. InВ WALLвЂўE, the same holds true for robots. This Pixar animated movie depicts a dismal time in the future ofВ our home planet. But it does so with humor and heart. After being left alone — with the exception of a pesky cockroachВ — for hundreds of years,В WALLвЂўE, a Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth Class unit, spends his time compacting trash and collecting objects of value to him. When a sleek search robot named EVE entersВ WALLвЂўEвЂ™s world to investigateВ signs of plant life, these two form a whimsical relationship and end up on a wild sci-fi adventure which takes them across the galaxy. Surprisingly, WALLвЂўE and EVE project more humanity and genuine emotion here than most human characters IвЂ™ve seen in films lately.
вЂњWe wanted the audience to believe they were witnessing a machine that has come to life,вЂќ director/co-writer Andrew Stanton explains. вЂњThe more they believe itвЂ™s a machine, the more appealing the story becomes.вЂќ
Appealing is right! The mere sight of a lonely little robot doing his work without anyone to appreciate him got to me immediately. Yes,В WALLвЂўE looks rusty and ugly —В but heвЂ™s so darn determined and resourceful. While watching him sort through the trash and find objects for his collection of valuables, itвЂ™s impossible not to fall underВ WALLвЂўEвЂ™s spell, mostly because of the very unusual things he decides to keep. And each time he views a romantic musical number from the 1969 movie version of Hello Dolly! on his primitive TV set, I could almost feel his enchantment.
Happily, the romance betweenВ WALLвЂўE and EVE comes across as both delightful and amusing. They make the perfect odd couple. EVE sports a very futuristic exterior;В WALLвЂўE is clunky and dirty. WALLвЂўE falls for EVE quicker than you can say вЂњSpace Odyssey.вЂќ EVE takes her time discovering WALLвЂўEвЂ™s splendid attributes. When the two finally hold hands (in their own way, of course), itвЂ™s very touching indeed. Use of Jerry HermanвЂ™s song, вЂњIt Only Takes a Moment,вЂќ adds to the emotional impact of this wonderful scene. ThereвЂ™s no dialogue, so itвЂ™s a bit like revisiting a classic Charlie Chaplin silent film and being awed all over again.
вЂњI was hooked and seduced by the idea of a machine falling in love with another machine,вЂќ Stanton admits. вЂњAnd especially with the backdrop of a universe that has lost the understanding of the point of living.вЂќ
IfВ WALLвЂўE had maintained the charm of its first half during the entire film, I would be raving about a cinematic masterpiece in this review. However, as soon as the human characters are introduced, the movie loses some of its glow. Traveling in a space ship and waiting for Earth to be habitable again, the humans are depicted as overweight, lazy, spoiled and obsessed with their gadgets. As the screen bulges with these uninspiring specimens of humanity, we canвЂ™t help feeling preached at rather than entertained. Thankfully,В WALLвЂўE saves the day, and his efforts result in a second chance for the human race. вЂњThe little robot actually teaches humanity how to be human again,вЂќ declares co-producer Lindsey Collins.
Walt Disney and Pixar deserve kudos for taking on an ambitious project like this one.В WALLвЂўE excels not only inВ storytelling andВ character development but also in music, cinematography andВ CG animation. After seeing soВ much trash on the big screen recently, we finally have aВ treasure to savor.
(Released by Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar and rated вЂњGвЂќ as suitable for all ages.)
Betty Jo Tucker is a member of the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and the San Diego Film Critics Society (SDFCS). SheВ teaches an online class, “The Reel Deal: Writing about Movies” for the LSS School of Writing and has published three movie-related books including CONFESSIONS OF A MOVIE ADDICT, an amusing memoir about her life at the movies. Betty Jo serves as the editor/lead film critic for ReelTalk Movie Reviews and hosts a weekly radio show, “Movie Addict Headquarters,” for BlogTalkRadio. She also writes monthly film commentary for the Colorado Senior Beacon.В For more information, please go to www.BettyJoTucker.com