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Tagline: In Space, No One Can Hear You Clean

Pizza: Joe Peeps



Here's how stupid I am. WALL·E has been out for years, yet I just realized (before we watched the movie) that Wall·E really means Wally. I'm not sure, however, if that's a nod to studio founder Walt Disney. So if you want to keep reading, remember, I'm stupid.

I loved this movie. I had little-to-no idea what it was about. I'd seen pictures of Wall·E, of course, but that's about it. WALL·E (2008) is just about one of the warmest movies I've ever seen. All that happens in the first third of the movie is a thing of beauty, visually and emotionally. I could have watched that stuff for hours.

WALL-E and Rubik's Cube
WALL·E is the story of a robot left behind on Earth, so let's get this out of the way right now - yes, there are similarities to E.T., but they're more of the hat-tipping kind; from the plant Wall·E finds (E.T. was a botanist, remember when he first comes to Earth and takes a plant out of the soil?) to him camouflaging himself among his surroundings (Wall·E used trash, E.T. did it with stuffed animals), to the child-like excited way he demonstrates Earth's artifacts (Elliot showed his toys to E.T.), to the title characters reanimating. Even their body type, including the telescoping neck, is similar. But that's okay. The universe is big enough for both of them. Sadly, it even has room for MAC AND ME.

Wall-E HelloDollyDance
Wall·E is a robot, a Waste Allocator Load Lifter - Earth class (good thing he wasn't a Superior Lifting Unifying Trashmasher). He's the last of the Wall·E's, yet still cleaning up all the refuge left behind by an uncaring human race, now forced into living in space. Apparently, nobody told him he doesn't have to work anymore, and after 700 years, he still does it with the glee of an intern. Wall·E is adorable, mainly due to his unrobot-y ability to be inquisitive, to be scared, to try and figure things out, and...to feel...emotion. He watches a VHS tape of HELLO, DOLLY!, just one piece to a puzzle of the past he's never known. He even listens to it while working. At night, he uses a hub cap as a hat to mimic a song and dance scene from DOLLY.

The new humanity
It's been 700 years since humans have lived on Earth. You see, that's when garbage got so out of control (the film's original title was TRASH PLANET) that life became unsustainable. So now we're living in a giant space vehicle called Axiom, where we've become a race that no longer knows how to walk.Instead, our obese Baby Huey frames glide around on hover-chairs as we text with the person next to us. We eat lunch-in-a-cup, and if you fall off of your lounge chair, you have to wait for stewards to help you back in. The statement here, to me, is less a cautionary one and more like...this is how we are today, just exaggerated. Anyway, the ship is run by same mega(and only)-company Buy n Large, the same people responsible for Earth becoming a garbage dump. Sure, that's the conflict, but the real story in WALL·E is a love story.

Working Wall-E
Wall·E is going about his 9-5, compacting the Earth's refuse while collecting some choice vestiges of human artifacts for himself. He seems to have a curiosity about the human race. Perhaps being alone all these years, he's just seeking some sort of connection. Something's coming...
One day, a mysterious ship lands, deploying, in intricate and comic fashion, a droid named Eve (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator). Wall·E is at first scared (jeepers, did they animatically nail that), then curious, and alas...in love. All he wants to do is hold Eve's hand, another thing he learned from HELLO, DOLLY! At first Eve is not interested (I guess things never change), but soon, they end up liking each other, and our adora-bot Wall·E has never been happier. But then, Eve shuts down.


WALL·E was conceived in 1994, before Toy Story (and here I thought I was a slow writer). But I can tell you this; all that waiting sometimes pays off. It gives the mind time to think and develop ideas, often when you don't even realize you're thinking about it. Plus, the R & D didn't stop there. Director Andrew Stanton & Co. would watch Buster Keaton movies on a daily basis, as WALL·E is essentially a silent movie. Which brings me to the next point...

WALL-E and Eve
A one hour and forty minute kids film with hardly any dialogue, and references to HELLO, DOLLY! sure seems like a huge risk to me. Would I love to see this movie? You bet your life. But would I have greenlit this movie? No way in the universe. And that, children, is why I don't run Disney. That and the fact that they don't know who I am. In the past decade, we've seen animated features grow up. Writers and directors got smart and put in things to amuse the adults, things that went over kids' heads, but not enough so they felt lost. But WALL·E, to me, did just the opposite. It's really made for adults, with stuff to amuse the children. So everyone wins. This same maxim was used in TOY STORY 3, which had kids laughing as their parents sat beside them weeping sentimental tears.

I have to look hard to find an unforgivable fault in WALL·E, but if you made me nitpick, the only thing I can say is that the movie slowed down for me, ironically during the chase scene. At that point, it could have been any chase movie, where the characters don't matter. It's a bit of a quagmire, because at some point in these movies, you need action sequences. I get that. But even Buster Keaton had chases and retained his character. This was a problem I had, in much greater proportion, with THE INCREDIBLES. But again, when I say "problem," I most likely mean "my problem."

Eve + Hal
Fun, however, are the numerous and sometimes invisible in-jokes, like Sigourney Weaver playing the part of the ship's computer's voice, a reversal of her ALIEN role where her ship's computer was called Mother. Also, the appearance of both things that "they" say will survive a nuclear blast: Roaches and Twinkies (here called Kremies). They nicknamed the roach HAL (though it's never actually said in the movie), after legendary silent comedy producer Hal Roach. Or the usage of A113, which was the classroom at Cal Arts where many Pixar employees are from.

So much of WALL·E's success is due to Wall·E himself. His anthropomorphic character is as cute as a puppy and as curious as a kitten. At times Wall·E can even be stubborn (not getting on the pod) or playful (purposely creating a line of shmoosh for the Microbe Obliterator to clean). But best is when he's boyish, like when he sits in the pod, feet not touching the ground, and pats the cushion next to him for Eve to sit on.


Then there's the brilliance of his interaction with the world, like not knowing how to classify a spork

(a nod to THE LITTLE MERMAID's dinglehopper, perhaps?), or his wrestling with a fire extinguisher as if it's an Acme product that backfires on Wile·E. Coyote. That fire extinguisher, by the way, has a great payoff, which gobsmacked me when I learned it wasn't reverse engineered. Also amazing is how much I (I can't speak for you) am beginning to take animation (the actual art) for granted...and shouldn't. It's come so far that it almost seems like a live action movie. But every now and then I'm reminded of the craft and how good these Pixaridians are, like when Eve gets stuck to a giant magnet and tries to fly away.

Pixar Mosaic
Pixar. Remember when they started out with that LUXO JR. short, with the hopping lamp? The one that's in their logo? (After the end-credits of WALL·E, you'll see an update on this.) And then the wonderful KNICK KNACK, with the horny snowman (what male wouldn't be, did you see that sunny Miami chick?).Pixar's revenue to date must be, I dunno, at least $6,000? Wait, let me check. Nope. It's 6,000,000, and I think that they, oops, wait, that decimal point is...oh, okay, got it now. Pixar has made over $6 billion dollars. That's more money than I've made in my entire life! How did they do that? By never making a bad movie, that's how. TOY STORY, TOY STORY 2, TOY STORY 3 (the best of the three, says me), UP, RATATOUILLE, CARS, FINDING NEMO, THE INCREDIBLES, MONSTERS, INC.and A BUG'S LIFE. Pixar is now owned by Disney, so I couldn't help drawing a parallel to WALL·E's omnipresent Buy n Large, the company that owns everything, therefore running everything.

Director/co-writer Andrew Stanton does an A+ job on his commentary, telling you not only what he wanted the movie to look like, but also what he wanted it to feel like. I can't recommend Stanton's track enough. Andy, baby, in the 1 in 6 billion chance you're reading this, e-mail me. I'd love to take you to lunch, which works well because I live near Disney. We can grab some lunch-in-a-cup or a maybe a Kremie or two.


If you have the Blu Ray, rejoice, for not only is it stunning, but the features are wonderful. From silly games to informative and entertaining making-ofs to a five minute piece featuring Wall·E engaged in Scrat-like scenarios with everything from magnets to basketballs. And if there's a film geek inside you (he should be so lucky!), I recommend the behind the scenes feature on sound design.

So will Eve keep following her programmed directive or will her feelings for Wall·E help her break out? Well, you know, love does conquer all, even in the robot world. Who cares if humanity is saved in the process? "So nice to have you back where you belong" indeed.



Young Comedians Show
We watch these a lot. I have maybe a dozen of them, from different years. We've already watched the 6th and 8th annual ones, so we rocketed ahead, for no particular reason, to the 15th, from 1992 and featuring Bill Bellamy, Judd Apatow, Janeane Garafolo, Andy Kindler, Ray Romano and Nick DiPaolo. The host was Dana Carvey, who opened doing some Hans and Franz (which one was he again?), George Bush, the Church Lady, and Garth from Wayne's World. No surprises there, and not much funny either. Perhaps back in '92 it was fresh (or perhaps not), but now it's just stale. Bill Bellamy did a set so embarrassing I'm pretty sure he'd agree if he watched it back today. Then came Hollywood wunderkind Judd Apatow who looked young enough to be giving his bar mitzvah speech. And he killed. He was just so funny. I can see how he kept that momentum going after leaving stand-updom for TV and movies. I was proud of my hometown boy (we're both from Syosset).

The pizza arrived, so we didn't get to see the others.

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