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« Odds and Ends - midsummer 2008 | Main | 10 Commandments of Panel Discussions »

Viewing the future

It doesn't get much bleaker. The Earth is a desolate wasteland, devoid of life, overflowing with the detritus from centuries of consumerism. Rivers are are a gummy soup. Smog and dust storms hide the sky. Humanity has been reduced to lifeless slugs cared for by psychotic robots in a gigantic spaceship. The ship's auto-pilot refuses to relinquish control to its human captain. The last green plant alive is losing its few limp leaves.

This was the setting for one of the funniest movies I've seen for a long time.

The family, including very excited grandsons ages 7 and 2, watched WALL-E on the big screen last night. And all of us enjoyed it on our own levels. Paul and Miles loved the slapstick and silliness of WALL-E (Chaplin's Little Tramp morphed into a trash compacter). There was a sweet love story. The allusions to sci-fi flicks from Star Wars to 2001 to ET to The Matrix came fast and furious. Others have written about the movie's political message. It certainly is an environmental fable. But I was fascinated by the humans even more than the robots in the film.

I've written before about how much I value science fiction books that take current social/political trends and then stretch them into an identifiable future. The science "fiction" of WALL-E does the much the same, guessing how our Net Gen might look taken to the extreme.

Aboard the Axiom spaceship, enormously fat, rather sexless humans have given up the use of their legs, preferring to move (and be moved) by floating chaise lounges while sipping gigantic soft drinks. They move in parallel staring at a Facebook like screen, neither talking nor touching each other. Advertisements are their scenery.  The technology allows them a carefree, self-centered existence. These people are not evil - just meaningless. It's only the artificial intelligences that have personalities in WALL-E's world.

This is an amazing movie that I am dying to see again. (I do spend a fair amount of time watching my grandsons watching movies rather than the screen itself.)

I'm interested in hearing your take-aways from WALL-E.

Photo from the IMBD.

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Reader Comments (8)

My husband and I are huge Pixar fans! They have created another classic! We both adored WALL-E and have been "quoting" it ever since (considering how few words are in it makes this a little tough) :) If I was still in the classroom teaching Envi Sci I would absolutely talk about it!

July 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSallie

Thanks for the recommendation. My wife is a Grade 3 teacher and it's good to know that we can enjoy the film on several levels. No doubt, she will have a great conversation with her students about the movie in September.

I really enjoyed Transformers last year just to get a glimpse at what young teenagers are watching. Teachers need to see the movies that are igniting the imagination of their students.

It's special when the magic extends to adults.

July 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPaul C.

Wall-e for President

July 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Bogush

I liked the message but I'll be honest I took my wife and kids and I was sound a sleep in under ten minutes. I don't want to rain on the parade. My tastes in movies are rather eclectic. The interesting part to me was that the humans actually wanted to come back to earth given their current state. A possible theme on the humans made for the earth the earth made for humans type of theme. A cute film in the end but not my favorite.

July 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie A. Roy

Thanks for the recommendation. I'm in the middle of creating a lesson plan for my graduate class - we are to choose a book, create a lesson plan that includes scripts, aids, technology, etc. I choose Life As We Knew It - diary format of a 16-year old girl. The moon is hit by meteor and knocking it closer to earth - a lot closer. Life is now in catastrophic mode. Your blog got me to thinking - why not use Wall-E as a comparison? I'm still thinking on this...these are junior high kids. This could be a stretch...or very fun. On another note, this movie sounds fantastic. I just saw Get Smart so that shows you where my tastes are! (And I enjoyed every minute!)

July 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnneM

My husband and I just returned from seeing WALL-E. What an enchanting love story as well as a great sci-fi movie. There weren't that many children in the audience, but one child was particularly enchanted / entertained by WALL-E's story. Her infectious laughter filled the small theater.

July 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Edwards

I saw WALL-E last night and loved it. This one had me laughing so hard I was crying multiple times. You are so right about the robots having more emotion than the humans (the indignation of the little cleaning robot is priceless).

My big take away was the importance of a minor disruption. The characters are all stuck in their routines. Little things change--WALL-E waving to the robot typing binary or the first two people touching hands--and suddenly new possibilities open up. The viral nature of ideas kept crossing my mind as the ripples spread. I just wish Pixar had done even more with this theme.

July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

@ Sallie,

I don't know if "quoting" is the right word, but both grandsons have that strange sounding "WAAALLLEEE" and "EEEEEVAAAAA" down pat!

Thanks for the comment,


@ Paul,

Disney figured out sometime ago how to tap into both kids tastes and adult tastes in the same movie and pull it off.

Personally, I think they somebody ought to have a rent-a-kid-to-take-to-the-movies program for when the "kiddie" movies are in town so adults can go without looking weird!

Transformers in on my Netflix list,


@ Charlie,

It took me three viewings before I stayed awake for all of the first Harry Potter movie. It is a running joke in my family that I never see a whole movie.

On the surface, I'd have to say I liked Toy Story or Incredibles better, but I am guessing this one will grow richer on future viewings. I hope so.

Try it again on DVD - after a good night's sleep!

All the best,



Life as We Knew would be well supported by Wall-E. It speaks a great deal to our consumer-centric society!

Good luck!


@ Nancy,

I've always found "kids'" movies are much better when watching them with kids in audience. They let us all be a little more innocently delighted.

Thanks for the comment,


@ Matt,

Your comments help cement the idea that this is a movie with the richness to support multiple levels of interpretation.

I suspect that PIXAR may not be as much into Web2.0 as many blog readers are. Or maybe not??

Thanks for the comment,


July 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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