Pixar's Wall-E manages to weave a tale of love and hope that is both brilliant and inspirational for all ages. Writer/Director Andrew Stanton flexes his creative muscles in creating a work of pure genius with influences ranging from Charlie Chaplain Little Tramp to Blade Runner.
It's 700 years in the future and the last survivors of humanity's excesses have left Mother Earth to fend for herself. Left behind is a sole robot assigned to clean up the mess, Wall-E (stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter - E Class). Wall-E is a solar-powered, rolling trash compactor that turns Earth's trash into neat cubes, but this robot is a whole lot more. He's a bit of a lonely packrat, collecting everything from lighters to Rubik's cubes. His only companionship is an unnamed roach (Hey, they can survive anything) and an old VHS of "Hello, Dolly". I guess even Tila Tequila couldn't take an environmental Armageddon.
Wall-E's boredom is interrupted when a spaceship leaves behind an egg-shaped, flying female robot named EVE (which stands for Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator). Eve is one part flighty schoolgirl and one part Sarah Connor, with a hand laser to prove it. Wall-E falls head over...uh wheels for EVE and accidentally helps her complete her mission. When her spaceship comes to retrieve her, the smitten Wally tags along, where he encounters Earth's missing citizens aboard a giant space cruiseship, and a robot conspiracy hellbent on stopping EVE from achieving her directive.
While the robots are cute, this is far from a kid's movie. Stanton relies heavily on the strength of the story, foregoing any dialogue for the first half hour. It's a pretty gutsy move ignoring kids short attention spans or maybe giving them more credit than most animated fare. In the process, he paints Wall-E as an every kid left on a giant, abandoned schoolyard of trash.
Without being overtly political or preachy, the film shows the consequences of a society obsessed with consumerism. There are no cute talking animals and only one sign of vegetation (which is key to the film). This movie could've been a major downer, but just like it's sci-fi counterparts such as E.T and Bladerunner, we're reminded that with friendship and love, anything's possible.
The lone (non-animated) human shown in video snippets is played by Fred Willard as the BNL (Buy & Large) CEO. Willard's Shelby Forthright leaves behind his own contribution of comic relief in a scene that's cryptic but won't make kids hide under the covers. John Ratzenberger (Cheers) and Kathy Najimy (Numb3rs) as John and Mary are the few humans that you briefly get to know. They're a fat and happy version of Adam and Eve, but tolerable.
Take away the lame Disneyesque humans and you have a really enjoyable love story that really shines. In a scene reminiscent of Rogers and Astaire, Wall-E and Eve dance gracefully through the stars. Although the characters speak all of 6 words between them, in typical silent movie fashion, their actions speak thousands of words.
Billy Tatum gives Wall-E four and a half scoops.