screenplay by Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon
directed by Andrew Stanton
by Walter Chaw What curbs Andrew Stanton's WALL·E from being a complete triumph is an extended Battle Royale in the middle of the film between a ship's captain and his HAL-like autopilot--more Mack Sennett than Stanley Kubrick, it's a moment that panders to the diaper set instead of, as the rest of the picture does, elevating animation ever-so-delicately into a medium in the United States instead of a genre. Here in this children's film, find a blasted post-apocalyptic wasteland--a ruined Manhattan with towers of trash stacked higher than its abandoned skyscrapers by a robot, WALL·E, left behind for seven hundred years while humanity waits in orbit for Earth to become inhabitable again. It's never clear what devastated the planet, though there are suggestions aplenty that it has something to do with unfettered consumerism and terminal neglect by its human stewards, as the film opens with an elegant, eloquent, wordless forty-minutes of WALL·E nursing a connection with his absent masters through endless viewings of the "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" sequence from Hello, Dolly!--the one that ends with a lovely moment of hands held in new love, which becomes the central image of longing in the piece. The song's refrain is haunting to me now--in a way that I never expected anything sung by Babs could be--similar to how the phrase "meet me in Montauk" has post-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If WALL·E had stayed on this uninhabitable Earth scoured by 250 mph windstorms, especially with our hero discovering a plant sprouting in an abandoned refrigerator, I don't know that I could bear the sadness of it.