Robot romance - Pixar's new moneymaker may be the ultimate revenge of the nerds
I'm a real sucker for animated rodents. I loved Ratatouille and I laughed fondly at the previews of the brave Despereaux in a movie coming out this winter.
Adorable rodents, yes. Rusted robots, not so much.
WALL-E is a rusted robot, who has been getting a lot of critical adoration, like some CGI monolith. Reviewers and the public have gone ga-ga over WALL-E.
The latest movie from Pixar Animated Studios made $63 million its opening weekend and received 96 percent favorable reviews compiled by Rottentomatoes.
I'm not in the 4 percent, but I'm not in the 96 percent either. I found WALL-E to be amusing and repetitive, but I didn't laugh much. Actually I didn't laugh at all.
A lot of reviewers have been sold a bill of goods and are smitten by the idea that robots communicate essentially without words. I must admit that a female who doesn't talk has vestigial appeal, but I also admit that a woman's words can be musical.
And don't tell me WALL-E is like Charlie Chaplin. Comparing WALL-E to Chaplin is like comparing GW to Abe Lincoln.
The dialogue is metallic gibberish:
If that piquant dialogue strikes your fancy, WALL-E is for you.
In a world in which "You know," "I mean," and "I'll tell you what" have become the basis of language, maybe words really don't mean anything anymore.
At least, WALL-E doesn't say, "You know."
Let's have wordless Shakespeare. We could have a binocular-faced Hamlet.
WALL-E is the story of a Waste Allocution Load Lifter-Earth Class robot, who remained on earth when it was abandoned by the humans. But WALL-E was never shut down. So he perseveres, continuing his duties, collecting and compacting endless trash. The earth is a dumpster with nothing growing.
Onto WALL-E's world comes EVE (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), a pristine, white robot with explosive powers. WALL-E immediately is entranced. He finds a plant, and EVE takes it back to her mothership with WALL-E in cold pursuit. There are rumors that the romance between EVE and WALL-E may be remade into a reality show with the less-animated Jessica Simpson and Kevin Federline.
The mothership is a cruise of the corpulent. Humans have become soft, sedentary, and obese and the ship's blimpish, well-meaning captain has only negligible, habitual duties. The new green growth causes conflict between the humans and guess what? -- The computers. Fortunately WALL-E and EVE are on the side of the earth.
I guess it's not hard to figure out why reviewers -- soft and sedentary -- have fallen hook, line, and superficiality for WALL-E. A lot of WALL-E, which was written and directed by Andrew Stanton, is unimaginative. WALL-E's pal, an innocuous cockroach, is a long way from Bambi's Thumper and Dumbo's Jiminy Cricket.
In his quarters, WALL-E has collected a lot of bric-a-brac and junk. He watches a tape of a movie from the 1960's on TV. What could it be? Of all the choices, Stanton chose the leaden, mediocre movie Hello, Dolly! We see Michael Crawford and Marianne McAndrew romancing and dancing. (No Barbra.) Maybe Stanton had a nerdy thing for the long-forgotten Marianne. If only Stanton had more dates in high school, it might have helped.
WALL-E is surprisingly trite -- music from 2001? Not exactly fresh. And Sigourney Weaver (Alien) voicing the ship's computer is just coyness.
The present 21st Century has a lot of revenge going on. Tom Brokaw with his revisionist malarkey about the 1960's, banks getting sky-high interest in their revenge and nerds still loving machines more than women.
WALL-E may be the ultimate revenge of the nerds. With our I-Pods, cell phones, and technical "stuff," maybe we're turning into a nation of would-be nerds.
WALL-E, can you say overrated?
Oh, never mind.
For a change of pace, you might want to listen to interviews that I conducted in the 70s and 80s, some of which were published in my book Voices from the Set: The Film Heritage Interviews (2000).
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