DVD Release Date:  November 18, 2008
Theatrical Release Date:  June 27, 2008
Rating:  G
Genre:  Animated/Family
Run Time:  103 min.
Director:  Andrew Stanton
Voices by:  Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy, Sigourney Weaver

With every new Pixar project crafted these days, there seems to be an even trickier premise to pull off, and Wall·E is certainly no exception to the rule. But instead of a field mouse moonlighting as the star chef of a fancy French restaurant in last year's Ratatouille, we've got another unlikely protagonist—a lonely robot simply called Wall·E (which stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter, Earth-Class).

Turns out, Wall·E was left behind after the earthlings hightailed it to space after literally trashing the planet made it virtually unlivable. And if a tale about a solitary robot with nothing more than a cockroach for a friend wasn't enough of a leap of faith for a big summer movie, there's virtually no dialogue for the first 30 minutes as the story sets up, save for a few computerized bleeps here and there.

In the age of highly stylized action scenes and booming surround sound, all that silence is a touch disconcerting. And trust me, there were plenty of restless kids and shuffling feet at my particular screening in the beginning. But if viewers are willing to give it a chance, those quiet moments eventually pay off. There's a deeply human connection happening as Wall·E wanders around what's left of the world, dutifully picking trash and composting it into tidy little squares because, well, that's what he's been programmed to do.

During his daily routine, Wall·E picks up a few relics to decorate his new home:  an errant Rubik's Cube, leftover garden gnomes and his personal favorite—a videotape of Hello, Dolly! that runs in a loop on a cracked flat-screen T.V. Watching the actors singing, dancing and laughing together makes Wall·E desperately long for someone to love and hold hands with, too. And his persistent battle with loneliness can't help but hit home; after all, we've all been there at one time or another.

Another grim reality artfully presented in Wall·E is the state of a world that used to be thriving. Much like I Am Legend where Will Smith wanders around a seriously depleted New York City, watching Wall·E scurry around a post-apocalyptic earth is also a surreal experience. Letting the stark imagery speak for itself, Wall·E almost functions as a kiddie version of An Inconvenient Truth without all the pie charts. The message of rallying against over-consumption and doing our part to make sure our world stays beautiful is clear, but never delivered in a heavy-handed way.

Like other Pixar productions, Wall·E is beautifully animated with pristine attention to detail, making one wonder how they continue to come up with such inventive material. But what inevitably makes this particular production stand out isn't all the eye candy. It's the sweet love story that develops once a sophisticated, egg-shaped space probe named Eve arrives on the scene.

Eve has been sent to Earth to methodically search for any signs of life. In space, humans have become these roly-poly couch potatoes with robots on hand to satisfy any whim. If someone has a craving for ice cream, he/she doesn't simply walk over to the fridge. Instead, he/she just says the word, and it's in there in a split second—no muss, no fuss. And while that may be some people's idea of heaven, it's clearly become a monotonous life as the human race is basically residing in a strip mall and pursuing nothing greater than momentary pleasures. But to return to earth, there has to be proof that conditions have improved, which is where Eve comes in.

Of course, Wall·E has no idea this is why Eve has arrived and before long, he's developed quite the crush. But Eve isn't so sure of his intentions and nearly extinguishes him on several occasions. But Wall·E's loving persistence eventually pays off, and the relationship that develops is truly better than that of any romantic comedy of late. It's pure, unadulterated love that looks out for the best interests of each other—and ultimately, mankind at large. And even with an unconventional storytelling style, that message rings out loud and clear and makes Wall·E another successful Pixar adventure for the whole family to enjoy.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  None.
  • Language/Profanity:  None.
  • Sex/Nudity:  Wall·E and Eve kiss in one scene.
  • Violence:  Eve’s arm turns into a laser cannon which she draws several times in the film. She blasts at Wall·E when they first meet, but only destroys a big boulder. Late in the film, Eve, Wall·E and some other robots rebel against security robots in a kind of riot. Several tense scenes where robots are damaged or taken apart, but nothing too scary.