Guest blogger Dani Klein Modisett: Why WALL E delivers heavy on the message and light on story.
I love Andrew Stanton, co-writer and director of Wall E. Granted, I've never met him, but anyone whose work (Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo...) makes me laugh as consistently as his does while maintaining a commitment to the possibility for redemption, the importance of family, the healing power of love, and skewering fat, lazy, white people is more than OK by me.
In Wall E, his latest film, he sticks with his usual themes, but this time he infuses them with an eco-political message. Given the noble and meticulous effort behind this movie, I wish I could say I liked it more. I am still in awe of the attention to detail that he and his producing team deliver. There is no doubt that Wall E himself is the most adorable trash compactor with a soft spot for "Hello Dolly" you'll ever see. And maybe that will be enough to engage children. I'm just not sure the story and the way it unfolds will.
As advertised, Wall E is a robot love story, but the romance is more of a device to deliver Stanton's bigger message stated outright in the closing song, a catchy collaboration between Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman that wails, "We've messed up our homeland, set off for the sky...we're coming down to earth, coming down to earth." Stanton virtuously sets out to make a "message movie," but I'm not sure to whom he wants to deliver it. The story of Wall E feels too sophisticated for children and too simple for adults. But if you have patient children who love gadgets, they won't be disappointed.