Wall-E is fairl-E funn-E
Movie critics took to “Wall-E” like kids take to chocolate cake for breakfast, so dare I pour a little sand in the machinery? I dare.
Sure, it’s cute. And Pixar has pushed all the right adorable-little-robot buttons to make sure the Awwwww Factor draws in an adult audience as well as youngsters. What could be cuter, say, than R2D2 (rigged out with a set of huge, expressive eyes, of course) abandoned on a dirty, desolate earth and told to clean up the mess we lazy humans left?
And then along comes a delightful little female robot scout to see if earth is ship-shape enough for recolonization, and, well, it’s the “Love Boat” all over again. Ahh, nothing like a little mechanical passion. Gimme a bucket of nuts, bolts and screws any time.
The thing is, as the film develops, and little Wall-E and his galpal, Eve, return to the earthpeople-packed spaceship that’s been gliding the cosmos for lordy-knows-how-long, the whole thing gets a bit Rube Goldbergish. Too many bleeps and bloops and dashing about and Robotic Charm. My attention waned. I began to ponder why the popcorn is always cold at the first matinee. I began to compare the message of this film (“If we don’t straighten up, we’ll wreck the world and be morbidly obese!”) to that of Pixar’s real masterpiece, “Finding Nemo.”
Yeah, “Wall-E” is PK, but just a bit too self-indulgent to rate all the talk we’re hearing about how it should be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award. Gee, I’m not even sure it will win the Best Animated Feature Oscar – let us not forget “Kung Fu Panda” will be in the running, too.
One other thing we must not forget is to give the folks at Pixar credit for: fresh (if not totally original) ideas. All their films are smart and snappy and brimming with offbeat approaches to standard messages. So more power to them, especially in the light of all the other forthcoming animated features from other studios. Judging strictly by the coming attractions preceding “Wall-E,” the rest of the year will be chock-a-block with other spaceships full of space chimpanzees and even space flies. Pass the Flit.
Possibly the cleverest part of this film is its not-very-subtle look at what our great-grandchildren will look like if our kids continue to sit in front of computers and video games all day. If we let machines get all the exercise, Pixar reminds us, everybody’s gonna weight a thousand pounds. Uh, no butter on that popcorn refill, please.
In the end, “Wall-E” may be just a little too long, and push the same buttons too many times to make adult film fans agree completely with the critics. But it is a fairl-E funn-E teaspoon of sugar that patient youngsters will probably swallow without complaint.