When revisiting the library of Disney/Pixar, one gets the same sensation when going to the dessert table. Everything (for the most part) looks delicious, and there are only a few that do not agree with your palette. Of course, there are the favorites that you dive into and that most everyone says are the best (i.e., Finding Nemo, the Toy Story films, The Incredibles), as well as others that, while sweet, don’t offer anything completely new (like the more recent disappointing Onward). Then, of course, there are those that hit you to your inner core.
What stands out to me the most about WALL E is the titular character himself. It has been about seven centuries since the human race has left the earth, leaving only robots to help clean up the mess. The last one left is WALL E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter, Earth class). His day consists of grabbing all the left over junk he can into his torso and take the resulting cubes to stack on top of each other (somewhat reminiscent of the game Minecraft, if you think about it). Of course, that does not include the knickknacks he keeps for himself, including Rubik’s cubes, lighters, and (his most prized possession), a VHS of Hello Dolly. Yet despite all this, it is clear he is lonely.
All that is changed with the appearance of Eve (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), leaving little time before WALL E is smitten. Despite his best (and mainly laugh out loud) attempts, he keeps striking out. Even still, they manage a perfectly orchestrated first date, which is interrupted when Eve discovers that the Earth still supports plant life. This leads to her and the titular hero heading out to space to the Axiom, where humans have been on a form of vacation that lasted much longer than the planned five years.
There are two things that Disney/Pixar are always able to serve us with a sort of subtle panache. The first are visuals, and WALL E has the best yet offered by the cinema dream team to date. Consider the space dancing scene between WALL E and Eve, of which I cannot think of any words to give it the credit it deserves.
The second is a cast of supporting characters: the cold, hard lined Auto pilot (MacinTalk), the clean freak robot M-O, the ship’s captain (Jeff Garlin), and the former Buy n Large (the company from centuries past) President, played by the ever charming character actor Fred Willard.
It is clear of the inspirations that were on the minds of the filmmakers (the ship’s computer is voiced by Sigourney Weaver, the autopilot is a red dot, etc), yet the inspiration of the main protagonist clearly refers to Chaplin’s character of the little tramp. He is an outcast, looked down upon, but still has a good heart (so to speak). It is clear that Eve is out of his league (she is more hi tech, and has an almost literal cannon of an arm). Still, this does not stop our lovable rolling metal hero from pursuing the love of his life.
In a sense, this is clearly how we should also be loving God (though obviously not in the sense the movie has put it): not caring how others see us, unafraid to make fools of ourselves, being bolder than we knew possible.
Parents, it is Disney. The kids will be fine.
There are some, I imagine, who may not like the film as much due to the storyline with the human race. It indeed could be seen as political. When the Captain yells “I don’t want to survive! I want to live!”, it did indeed feel somewhat akward when considering our current isolation due to COVID-19.
However, I would argue if that is all you got out of this film then you missed the main point. The humans are not at all the centerpiece. The center piece is the romance, and how irrational love can seem.
It only takes a moment.