Standard issue Pixar tear jerker that has gotten a bit of bad press for portraying humankind as a bunch of nasty litterbugs. I still liked it, though the story does have a few holes big enough to drive a Spacefaring Cruise ship through.
The hero, such as he/it is, is a little robot bearing a striking resemblance to Number 5 from Short Circuit. His job is to clean up the Earth, one pile of scrap metal at a time. He is a walking garbage compactor who has been busy for the last 700 years or so turning random bits of trash into nice compact cubes. He then uses these cubes to make skyscraper high pyramids. I suppose that there was a time when some other machine came and took the cubes away, but those days are long gone. Wall-e is the last of his kind, and whenever he sees another Wall-e, he just uses it for spare parts.
As Wall-e rolls around the city collecting junk and playing with his pet cockroach, his movement activates high tech billboards which talk about the perfect world created by B&L. B&L seems to have taken over the world, as their logo is on everything Wall-e passes. This is a very good looking bit of animation, Wall-e has a nice used up feel to him and the rust and corrosion of an abandoned world looks pretty convincing.
The images that flash to life on the billboards are of people living the good life, sitting by the pool, smiling and happy. Even the President, Fred Willard, is all smiles in his random announcements. At first I thought that Pixar had finally solved their one great weakness-that their human character rendering totally sucks. But no, this is just real world footage added for no good reason that I can see. It only serves to make the cartoonish and goofy looking ‘humans’ that show up later look even more goofy and cartoonish. Why not make a cartoon Fred Willard? Or why not try and make realistic looking people?
As Wall-e goes about his never ending task, Earth is visited by a high tech probe scanning the city for signs of life. Wall-e falls in love with the sleek white probe and followers her back to her mothership, where the remnants of humankind are on a never ending cruise.
When I was a kid I read every Mad Magazine I could get my hands on. These were often brilliant bits of business, lots of satire and irony and the artwork was pretty impressive as well. One of the stories form an early issue of the magazine talked about how the Chinese were going to take over America. As we did nothing but eat and watch TV, we would evolve into humans with large round bottoms and withered and atrophied legs. The Chinese would just push us over and take over the country.
The writers of Wall-e must have read the same Mad Magazine I did as the people on the cruise ship are fat and can’t walk. Everyone rides around in hoverchairs and is constantly waited on by robots. The Robots are the important characters, the people are the left over villains of an evil empire that has been dead lo these many years.
There are all kinds of cute touches, such as Wall-e’s obsession with Hello Dolly, or was it Bye Bye Birdie? and the fact that Wall-e’s girl friend could instantly solve Rubik’s Cube.
But the overall plot was lacking a few bits of common sense. The fatsos are always eating and drinking, where does this foodstuff come from? The cruise ship is in perfect condition with no signs of age or wear at all-how is this possible? Our heroes meet a couple of Jumbo sized Wall-es who are busy making giant trash cubes, which they then jettison into space. Where does the material for new robots, etc, come from and why haven’t they jettisoned the whole ship after 700 years of throwing their trash into space? Human reproduction seems to take place without human involvement and there were no old people.
In the end, the hapless humans return to the ruined Earth, which is still ruined, despite Wall-e 700 hundred year efforts to clean one corner of it. As the credits roll we are shown little pictographs of the Robots plowing fields and doing other bits of primitive labor. If robots could terraform Earth in the first place, why did the Americans have to abandon Earth?