DVD of the Week – Wall-E (2008)

by RISHI AGRAWAL

It seems that everywhere you turn these days that there is yet another raunchy comedy to cater to our supposedly grown-up attitudes. Don’t get me wrong. I love the Judd Apatow machine as much as the next guy, but I didn’t realize how prevalent the R-rated comedy was until one of my friends was lamenting how few movies she could watch with her elderly father – he grew up in a different era and is sensitive to sex and violence. When I asked her why she didn’t take him to animated films, she said that her father would not watch “cartoons.” It was then I realized the value of the Pixar films like Wall-E. The reason the movies are so well-made is not solely that animated films have matured, but that they now fill a niche that live action movies have abandoned – movies for everyone. The point that I am trying to make is that if you have an aversion to Pixar films because you feel that they are aimed at children, then I would advise you to take another look.

As I am sure many of you heard, Wall-E is inspired by silent films. I am sure that many of you know the plot, but, in brief, Wall-E is the story of a robot on a post-apocalyptic Earth who is tasked with cleaning up all the garbage on the planet to make it habitable for humans once again. There is practically no dialogue in the first third of the film, but yet the film never becomes insipid. Even the beginning of the film works on many levels. Children will enjoy the film, of course, due to the cute robot and the physical gags. Film buffs will like the homage to silent films and the references to musicals. Fans of pop culture will enjoy the little trinkets that Wall-E collects. Those who need more of an emotional punch will enjoy the love story that develops between Wall-E and another robot.

I often feel with any artistic medium that, if you try to please everyone, then you will end up pleasing no one. However, Pixar somehow bucks this trend. They make movies that try to appeal to as broad an audience as possible and they largely succeed. Pixar makes entertaining films that speak great truths about the nature of humanity even though, for the most part, the main characters of their films are not human.

Wall-E is being offered in a one-disc widescreen version as well as a three-disc set that is also available in Blu-ray. The one-disc version actually includes quite a few special features including two animated shorts (Presto Amazing, the short that appeared before the theatrical release and Burn-E which has not appeared anywhere previously). It includes deleted scenes as well as “Wall-E’s Tour of the Universe” and a featurette on sound design. Plus, it includes an audio commentary by director Andrew Stanton.  The three-disc version includes all of the above plus more shorts, games, additional deleted scenes as well a documentary on Pixar and much more. The three-disc version also allows you to download a digital version of the film which can be played on mobile devices.

Other new releases this week: Encounters at the End of the World, Gonzo, Mister Lonely, Priceless, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, Tropic Thunder, Up the Yangtze

One response to “DVD of the Week – Wall-E (2008)

  1. Your point about the universality of Pixar movies is well-taken. I do, however, have some reservations about Wall-E’s success as a movie for adults. The first, earthbound part of the film is wonderful. The Wall-E character is very appealing, the film works beautifully as an exercise in storytelling through images, and the animation is splendid.

    However, the second, adventures in space part of the film is less successful as filmmaking for adults because of the way the film is written to appeal and be comprehensible to children. The lesser example is the repetitive series of chases around the ship that outlasted my interest. The greater example is the ecological message. The requirements of speaking directly to children about caring for the environment are a necessary limitation of the content and medium of the message. Adults, particularly those familiar with science fiction tropes, will find the message simplistic and overly familiar.

    I liked Wall-E and have recommended it widely, but with the caveat that it is not as satisfying as a film for adults as the best Pixar films.

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