By Kyle | June 26, 2008
Pixar and Disney’s “Wall-E” is a film as risky as “Fantasia” was in its day. I guess Pixar is successful enough that they can get their corporate masters at Disney to sign off on anything they want to do, no matter how odd or arty. “Wall-E,” which is set 800 years in the future, has two settings: one is a bleak post-apocalypse of garbage on an Earth devoid of any humans. And that’s the audience-friendly part. The other half of the film (which is the year’s most heavily promoted release according to Variety, with a $50 million or so ad campaign) supposes that the human race of the future will become a flabby mass of peabrained idiots who are literally too fat to walk. Instead they zip around in flying wheelchairs surfing the Web, chatting on phone lines and stuffing their faces with food meant to be sucked down like milkshakes while unquestioningly taking orders from the master corporation that controls all aspects of their existence. I’m trying to think of a major Disney cartoon feature that was anywhere near as dark or cynical as this. I’m coming up blank. I’m also not sure I’ve ever seen a major corporation spend so much money to issue an insult to its customers. Those potato-y people of the future seemed uncomfortably close to paying guests of Walt Disney World, passively absorbing entertainment in a sterile, climate-controlled, completely artificial wonderland that profits from everything they eat, see or do.
UPDATE: See my colleague Lou Lumenick’s blog–he thinks the movie is great–for more about the ragin’ political debate, which I will discuss later today.