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"Wall-E": A Global Warming Space Odyssey


The reviews of "Wall-E," (Disney/Pixar, directed by Andrew Stanton) were uniformly ecstatic.  "A film that's both breathtakingly majestic and heartbreakingly intimate," gushed Robert Wilonsky of the Village Voice.  "It can hardly be called a children's film, but a masterpiece of feature-film animation for all ages," sighed Robert Fox for TV Guide.  "The new Pixar picture 'Wall-E' is one for the ages, a masterpiece to be savored," marveled Robert Edelstein for NY Magazine.  "Grace, beauty, joy, laughter and love... Wall-E" is easily the best film of the year so far," purred Tom Charity for CNN.  And so on.  And so I packed my kids into the van and off we went. 

And what I had hoped to be an enjoyable, funfilled, escapist bit of summerfare turned out, instead, to be a tiresome, slow moving, and rather depressing 97 minute piece of global warming propaganda that I, and especially my kids, couldn't wait to end.  It shows the pitfalls of overly freighting artistic expression and/or entertainment with political cargo.

The film is ostensibly a futuristic love story between an old clunker of a robot with binoculars for eyes named 'Wall-E' (for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth Class) and the high-tech, svelte, state of the art 'Eve' (for Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator).  

Wall-E lives on Earth some seven hundred years after it has been abandoned by humanity, presumably after "we" exploited and finally destroyed our poor, long suffering, delicate, little planet in our pursuit of mindless consumerism.  What's left of humanity now lives on a gigantic, luxurious space ship called the Axiom, careening about the universe pursuing the same mindless pleasures it enjoyed on earth, waiting for life to return to its former planet. 

The Earth, seven hundred years later, fulfills Al Gore's vision of our future, a bleak, dusty desert of a planet, utterly devoid of life, and filled with nothing but garbage left behind by an uncaring materialistic civilization.  Someone forgot to turn Wall-E off, and he has continued collecting trash all these years, compressing it into perfect little cubes that he has dutifully piled on top of one another, as he is programmed to do, forming vast uninhabited cities of eerie, lifeless skyscrapers made of junk.  He has a personality and odd quirks, including collecting odd pieces of rubbish, such as an ipod, rubic cube and zippo lighters to adorn his home with, a neglected metal wreck where he hides during sand storms.  He goes out on trash collecting forays accompanied by his pet cock roach, the only actual "living" creature seen on Earth tough enough to survive in so rugged an environment.  Wall-E also nurses an affection for Hello Dolly, a old VHS version, which he watches repeatedly.  

Eve appears on the scene.  She is a fetching, oval shaped, glistening robot beauty sent by the mothership, the Axiom, to search for signs of life on earth.  Wall-E falls head over heels for her.

The two begin an unlikely courtship in rich robotic brogue, crooning and chirping at one another.  When Wall-E shows her his latest discovery, a tiny plant he's placed in an old leather boot, the spell is broken as her mission directive is engaged.  She seizes the seedling and returns to the Axiom.     

When Eve and Wall-E appear at the Axiom, the movie transitions from an understated robot love story to a humorous but scalding parody of modern American society.  After seven centuries on the giant pleasure ship, everyone has been reduced to blithering, blubbery blobs, floating around moronically on hovering recliners staring at TV monitors, consuming burgers and shakes - a Huxleyesque Brave New World of automated, digitalized, instant gratification and thought control.  Surprise - they look and sound just like Americans.  

Eve presents the evidence of plant life on Earth to the lethargic and obese human commander who gradually warms to the idea that the planet may once again be inhabitable.  The space ship's computer system opposes the captain's plan to return home and a full scale mutiny begins.

The movie does have strong points.  The relationship between Wall-E and Eve is touching as they manage to convey thoughts and feelings with wierd, otherwordly, "robotic," charm and almost no dialogue.  There are whimsical moments, unusual characters, and beautiful visuals, and something of a plot line however thin; but the movie is so top heavy with "message" that it is difficult to get around it.  It is also decidedly not a children's movie.

Rather, it is an undisguised endorsement of Al Gore's dismal vision of a planet set aflame by the fires of carbon belching American capitalism.  It is a dry, barren, desolate place, the earth, empty of life, strewn with trash, the refuse of a consumeristic culture that has destroyed its once magnificent Eden.  This utterly depressing image of a post Apocalyptic wasteland was not particularly exciting cinematically either.    

Then, there is the elitist liberal vision of Middle America.  Yes, the movie seems to say, we Americans are vulgar simpletons who bowl, drink beer, shop at Sam's, cling to guns and religion because we are bitter, are fat, gorge on fast food, and watch TV.  Aren't liberals supposed to be the ones who defend the "common" man, not ridicule him?  

And what of the grim vision of Wall-E forming vast cities of compressed garbage, left behind by a departed humanity, the inevitable outcome of hapless American consumerism?  So, now, the enviro-socialist nags scold us for owning cars, computers, ipods, and cell-phones. 

Is it selfish to pursue our dreams, earn livings, and accumulate assets and gadgets?  Yes, the movie seems to say, because in so doing, we are thoughtlessly heating up the planet and filling it with useless junk.  

Which leads us to the real message behind this slice of agitprop disguised as a children's movie: GLOBAL WARMING.  Yes, Al Gore and his global warming fantasies have found a spiritual home at Disney Pixar in this little ecoparable.  In Wall-E, it apparently became so hot that the whole human race (or whoever was left after the catastrophe,) had to skedaddle, leaving behind a planet of post industrial simmering smut, a single seedling in a shoe, a robot, and a cockroach.  Yes, indeed, we are doomed, and, if you hadn't noticed, Global Warming Hysteria (GWH) is alive and well in Hollywood. 

And what of the rapture and exultation of the critics?  Well, let us take them at their word that they were utterly smitten by the film.  But let us also at least mention that the same liberal media that is utterly smitten by the Messiah, Barack Obama, is also likely to love movies trumpeting left wing causes no matter how flawed.  

In the process of depicting the Global Warming Apocalyptic Fundamentalist Delusional Doomsday Vision (GWAFDDV) of a swinish American culture and reckless American capitalism undomesticated by the enlightened ecoMarxist evangelicals who would tax, regulate, cap, trade, shackle, squeeze, and depress economic activity to the point of oblivion, the magnanimous producers at Disney/Pixar have instead managed to create a dull, dreary, sluggish film that is heavy on political baggage and light on magic and inspiration. 

And, oh, the ultimate critics, my kids, couldn't stand it. 



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