In the not so distant future, humans have quite literally trashed the planet to the point it's uninhabitable. With no means to sustain themselves – the plants have all died or are buried under miles of garbage – humans have fled in luxurious spaceships where their every whim is satisfied by robots. After hundreds of years living in space not having to move a muscle, we've devolved to the point of being fat couch potato globs that vaguely resemble the Pillsbury Doughboy.
Back on Earth, WALL-E (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) goes about his lonely job of compacting trash. It's what he was built for and programmed to do, and there's no reason for him to stop. He was inadvertently left turned on when everyone took off, so he goes about his work each and every day with only an indestructible cockroach named Hal for company. And after hundreds of years of this, WALL-E has developed a personality. He's an inquisitive little guy who collects weird items of trash that he then uses to furnish and decorate his home. He's also developed an affection for Hello, Dolly! and watches the old VHS tape over and over again.
Hello, Dolly! has taught WALL-E about holding hands and falling in love, and the lonesome robot has dreams of finding that someone special. After endless years of waiting, WALL-E's shot at love appears in the form of a glistening egg-shaped drone named EVE. EVE was sent to Earth to check for any signs of life, and our little WALL-E falls head over wheels for this state-of-the-art metallic cutie. He wants nothing more than to make a connection with this beauty, but EVE's not on the same wavelength. Fortunately, WALL-E's a persistent suitor and when EVE's sent back to report her findings to the people on board the Axiom spaceship, WALL-E goes along for the ride. Nothing will stop this starry-eyed robot from being with his EVE, not hundreds of thousands of miles of space travel, evil robots, or weird jelly-ish people who've lost all concept of what life on Earth was like before their ancestors all but destroyed our planet.
There are a number of important messages contained in WALL-E, but fundamentally it's a touching sci-fi love story. Yes, you can take from it the lesson of protecting our environment. And it's definitely a cautionary tale about our reliance on technology to do everyday tasks for us. But above all, WALL-E is simply one of the most romantic tales ever put on film.
With few spoken words, WALL-E relies on the movements of a trash compactor wearing binoculars to convey emotions and move forward the story. And because of the skills of the master storytellers and animators at Pixar, within 5 minutes WALL-E is no longer a mere robot but a real flesh/nuts and blood/bolts creature who feels things as deeply as humans.
The animation is stunning. The sound design is perfect, the little dialogue there is is witty, and the story flows smoothly without a single unnecessary minute to slow things down. And talk about pleasing an audience… The preview screening I attended sounded like a rock concert when the credits rolled. I've never heard an audience react so strongly to a film as they did at the end of WALL-E. The applause was loud and sustained, and people were all smiles as they exited the theater.
WALL-E's such a joyous film you can't help but be totally caught up in the world of a lonely robot looking for love. Pixar's put together yet another movie to be enjoyed by all ages and one sure to go down in history as one of the best animated movies ever created. I know those are strong words, but I believe they are completely justified.