WALL•E — not exactly perfect, y’know.

I’ve been meaning to post something about WALL•E for a while now — and I will post something, I hope, in the near future — but life has been busy and the mountain of WALL•E commentary to sift through has grown impossibly large.

In the meantime, however, I commend to you this piece by Noah Millman, who lists many of the flaws with this film that had occurred to me already as well as many that hadn’t, before concluding:

I may be grading WALL•E too hard, measuring it by the apparent scale of its ambitions rather than rating it against other kiddie flicks of the season, but that’s what higher ambitions will get you: more serious critical attention. And WALL•E, while it has wonderful things about it – just for having brought back the silent movie, it deserves high praise – just didn’t impress me as the work of art it’s being praised as.

There is some interesting discussion in the comments, too.

I am also somewhat relieved to find that as esteemed an animation expert as Jerry Beck seems to share my mild reaction to the film, acknowledging that there is much to “admire” in the film, as there usually is in a Pixar movie, but that it also left him “a little cold” and “a little disappointed”.

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  • Phy

    If you haven’t read Moriarty’s take yet, I recommend it. He’s got an interesting view of the film:

    “Each year, it seems like “labor-saving” technology actually renders us increasingly useless for anything except sensory pleasure and comfort. The name of the ship itself, the Axiom, is a math terms meaning something that is “taken for granted.” Cuts right to the heart of what’s happened to the people living onboard over the last 700 years or so… they’ve gotten so adjusted to this lifestyle that they’ve literally turned into giant babies, soft and weak and unable to do anything for themselves. Every need, every want, every whim seems to have been provided for, and the result is someone who forgets how to do things for themselves. I don’t think WALL-E is an attack on the fat… I think it’s an attack on the mentality that would let someone get to this place of almost total reliance.”

  • I, too, have been mulling over my reaction to the movie. I need to get something posted, but I’m trying to separate my feelings about the film from my feelings about the conservative “backlash” (which you turned out to be right about, to a degree).

    It’s difficult to separate the two, as my reaction to the backlash is to see the film in even more glorious garb.

  • If Glenn Beck is ranting about you? Chances are good you probably did something right. 😉

  • What? Don’t you realize Glenn Beck isn’t a conservative? He’s a voice of reason, neither liberal or conservative, just a speaker of truth in a crazy world.

    (Sorry, I think I just threw up in mouth a little.)

  • Phy

    WALL*E looks cute, sounds cute, and is in wuv. He makes everyone around him better. This may be the ultimate test of style over substance.

    I confess, I just want to see him put in a cigar and brandish a shotgun and say, “Shiny, let’s be bad guys!”

  • Films with a message you disagree with tend to leave you a bit cold Peter. It is a fact.

  • I’m not even sure that WALL•E has a message. Many people say it does, but they disagree on what it is, and the writer-director himself has said that it doesn’t have the message that everyone says it does — but of course, it is also possible that the message is buried so deep in his subconscious that he doesn’t even realize he’s spreading it, whatever it is.

    Confused yet?

    Quite honestly, I think I’m beyond the political debate over this film. I’m more concerned with the film’s artistic weaknesses — and with the fact that so many people seem to be ignoring those weaknesses or making excuses for them.

    Which isn’t to say that the film has no artistic strengths, as well; of course it has its strengths, this is a Pixar film after all. But I find the film a mixed bag, rather than the uncomplicated masterpiece that many people have made it out to be.

  • WORLD Magazine recently interviewed director Andrew Stanton, who stated that the pro-environmental/anti-obesity message that many people tend to “get” from the movie was never intended. Rather, the “green” and “health” aspects of the film were merely vehicles for a story about love and purpose.

    That being said, this is my and my kids’ least favorite PIXAR film. Despite the movie’s technical achievements, it failed miserably to drive Stanton’s intended message home to my children. It also wouldn’t surprise me that most adults missed Stanton’s message (“love and purpose”) completely and took home a pro-environment/anti-obesity message instead. In short, the movie’s inability to drive its intended message home to the audience is its greatest weakness (or failure, if you’re so inclined to use that term).

    Speaking of which, the message(s) of the movie (both intended and unintended) went completely over my kids’ heads. They may be 8 and 6, but they’re no intellectual slouches. Both flat-out stated how much they disliked the movie. Does that not say something?

  • Phy

    I usually enjoy Roger Ebert’s opinions. He gave WALL*E 3.5 stars out of 4.


    He finishes his piece with this paragraph:

    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.

    I thought Ratatouille had enchanting storytelling, too, but that was a film about something, and my appreciation for Brad Bird has only elevated. And yet I find I don’t watch that film over and over as I have with Toy Story 1 & 2 and The Incredibles. WALL*E seems to me less scripted and more organic – he’s found companionship with EVE, and nothing is going to stop him from finding a way to spend the rest of his life with her. It is as if he is infected with the glitch of life, and that glitch is love, and that love affects and infects everyone he touches to the place where his simple little love will be responsible for the greening of a discarded planet.

    The mechanics of it all may be atypical, but I wouldn’t say they don’t work. The 97% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes suggests there is much to like about this strange little robot.

  • I loved WallE.

    I loved what it had to say bout society and the absurdity of where things could go if we keep at it. It wasn’t an attack on fatness, it was the idea of laziness and unhappiness of society…and just how far it could go. Everythign is provided for them, and yet they are unhappy. It’s been a rant of mine for a long time about society and the attitudes of people about consuming and their roles in the environment and how they need to be more active in every part of life.
    I wouldn’t say WallE has a message…more of an alternate future that could happen. It’s scifi…that’s what happens. It wasn’t as good as Ratatoille to me, but overall it was a nice story, with an interesting view of the future.