Jul 292008

I had my first real desire for an iPhone, or other portable Internet appliance, tonight.  This afternoon, the Monaco Pictures web site told me there was a 6:50 showing of WALL-E, and when we got there, there wasn’t.  That’s unimpressive, Monaco Pictures people.  The accuracy of show times on a cinema web site should reasonably approach 100%.

So is it on anywhere else?  I didn’t look before I left the house.  Who the hell makes a Plan B for a movie, fercryinoutloud?  Worse, I didn’t have my PDA with me, else I could have used one of the Bridge Street hotspots.  What to do?  I tried Melanie, she of the fastest fingers in four counties, first, but she wasn’t home.  Fortunately Charles came through, telling me that it was on at Hollywood 18 and that we had plenty of time to make it.  Thanks, man!

As for the movie, the boys liked it, which was really most of the point.  Lea hung “cute” on it, and enjoyed it.  Based on the buzz, I went in with high expectations, wondering if this would be the one to unseat The Incredibles as my favorite Pixar movie.  Instead, my assessment is that it’s easily the least impressive Pixar movie.

It’s got the signature touches—the inside jokes for the grown-ups (loved the 2001 and Blade Runner references) and the slapstick—but there’s less movie holding it all together than ever before.  It’s 45 minutes of plot asked to serve 97 minutes of run time.  Even keeping the extensive nonverbal setup on the front end (which I did enjoy), it really has no excuse to be any longer than an hour.

The politics are heavy-handed, and the depictions of humanity’s sins of consumption are so over the top that a lot of their potential impact disintegrates in a cloud of eye-rolling resentment.  I frequently enjoy the skillful weaving of message into a work that can also entertain superficially, but I’d like it to gently nudge me into the circle of thoughtful consideration.  WALL-E uses an electric cattle prod.

By the way, Disney/Pixar, what’s the merchandising story on this film?  Given its message, do you still plan to feed us as much plastic Chinese swag as we can stand?  Standard plastic box for the DVD release?  Just checking.

I’m disappointed.  I was hoping for something with typical Pixar dazzle that also worked as thoughtful science fiction.  I got flashes of each, but they’re hanging on a rickety scaffolding of a movie.  C-.

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 Posted by at 11:34 pm

  6 Responses to “The family sees WALL-E”

  1. Wow. I gave it a D so you are a bit more generous than I. I somehow got the feeling it was geared toward littler kids. It was fairly tame and goofy. Even my 9 year old wasn’t impressed with it.

    On the commentary part though, I do love when Disney makes fun of itself. The scooters available so “grandma” could be mobile cracked me up! (ala the scooters all over effing Disney) I knew what was coming, then.

    Kung Fu Panda was a much, much better flick.

  2. Yeah, but didn’t you keep expecting to hear, “Johnny Five, ALIVE!” ??

    I dunno … I guess I just didn’t go into it to over-analyze it. It’s just an animated movie. I like the idea that humans may one day have to abandon the earth because it’s become like a teenager’s junk-filled room. Sometimes the message has to be an over-the-top cattle prod to get people to even entertain the idea that something like that *could* happen and that they’re part of the problem. Getting the general public to be aware of anything besides themselves isn’t an easy thing to do any more.

  3. Yep, “just an animated movie” about sums it up for me, too. I didn’t go into the movie expecting a media masterpiece. It was just a cute kid’s movie that was appropriate for our kid’s ages. I liked the characters. They weren’t obnoxioius like some of the ones you get in animated movies these days. When it comes out on DVD and I have to watch it 200 times then I’m going to be okay with it… not like that damn Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

  4. ‘seester: Yeah, you said that before about Kung Fu Panda. Maybe we’ll check that one out.

    Tami, Lea: To me, the point is that Pixar has already generated several animated features that are far beyond “just an animated movie.” Consequently it’s all the more disappointing when one must retreat to such language to describe their latest. You might as well say “well, hey, at least it doesn’t suck even worse!”

    Lea: Let’s try to avoid this DVD purchase.

  5. […] It was my Father’s Day present, and a fine one it was.  Pixar earns partial redemption from that largely dreadful robot movie.  I’m not sure the 3D added much to the experience for me, but as they say, YMMV.  […]

  6. […] really, really irritating, and it’s not the first time you’ve done it to us, either.  The same thing happened with WALL-E, longtime readers may […]

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