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Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is a film critic for The New York Post and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review. Find an alphabetical listing of The New York Post's recent film reviews here.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

Buy A Christmas Caroline for $10! "for those who prefer their sentimentality seasoned with a dash of cynical wit. A quick, enjoyable read...straight out of Devil Wears Prada"--The Wall Street Journal

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  • « He’s “Lunchified”! Patrick Goldstein Blogs | Home | “Wall-E” vs. “Fat-E”s…Is This Movie…Sizeist? »

    Disney’s “Wall-E”: A $170 Million Art Film

    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.

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    Topics: Movies |

    25 Responses to “Disney’s “Wall-E”: A $170 Million Art Film”

    1. K Says:
      June 26th, 2008 at 2:10 am

      Well, I guess that explains why Andrew Stanton is running around saying he didn’t have a clue the story was anti-capitalist eco-prop. This thing had better make $350mill world wide just to break even and he needs several million media un-savy conservatives seeing the movie to make that happen.

    2. John Says:
      June 26th, 2008 at 8:00 am

      Half the population is now overweight I think. Ever watch Food Network, Americans take pride in eating crappy food. Just watch “Diners Drive Ins and Dives.”

    3. OC Says:
      June 26th, 2008 at 10:44 am

      Ever see the movie Idiocracy?

      Sounds like Wall-e’s plot line is very similar.

      Great line in your review about the patrons of Walt Disney World. Right on the money.

    4. Mo Says:
      June 26th, 2008 at 12:02 pm

      So do bleeding heart liberals feel okay being hypocrites?

      We have gore using more energy in a month than the majority of Americans use in a year. (and more than some small countries)

      We have Pixar telling us not to be wasteful and that we should get out and excercise, while telling us to pay 10 bucks to sit in a theater for two hours… oh by the way don’t forget to buy all of our merchandise which will be land fill fodder in 20 years!

      Seriously….

    5. Patrick. Says:
      June 26th, 2008 at 1:34 pm

      This might be the first G-rated movie I see at midnight.

    6. Rick Says:
      June 26th, 2008 at 2:59 pm

      Wow, Kyle. Guess if you try really hard enough, it IS possible to stir up “controversy” about any conceivable subject. Even a Disney cartoon. Slow news day?

    7. GeronimoRumplestiltskin Says:
      June 26th, 2008 at 3:29 pm

      (I posted a longer version of this comment at Libertas. Please forgive its length.)

      I don’t think that Mr. Stanton’s portrayal of humans was intended to be as negative as Mr. Smith interprets it to be. If you read the Christianity Today interview [linked in the last sentence of the Libertas article], you find Stanton’s explanation for the choices he made in the film:

      I wasn’t trying to make the humans into fat, lazy consumers, but to make humanity appear to be completely consumed by everything that can distract you—to the point where they lost connection with each other, even though they’re right next to each other. The reason I made them look like big babies was because a NASA guy told me that they haven’t yet simulated gravity perfectly for long-term residency in space. And if they don’t get it just right, atrophy kicks in and you begin to lose your muscle tone—you just turn into a blob of goo. For a while, that’s what I did with the humans in the movie; they were just big blobs of Jell-O. But it was so bizarre, we had to pull it back. So I said, well, let’s just make them look like big babies. That’s where all that came from.

      I wasn’t trying to make some sort of mean-spirited comment on consumerism or today’s society. I was going with just the logic of what would happen if you were in a perpetual vacation with no real purpose in life. So I went with the idea that we’d become sort of big babies with no reason to grow up. I definitely saw humanity as victims of this system that they were in. They were just big babies that needed to stand on their own two feet.

      What would happen if a person was on a perpetual vacation with no real purpose in life? They would become Paris Hilton. And as for the “big babies with no reason to grow up” part, I think we see that trend in culture today, though it is not as babies, but extended adolescence. Pre-adolescent childhood is shrinking, as kids become more “sexualized” at an earlier age, while mature adulthood is pushed back farther and farther. Evidence for the latter? Look at the actions and attitudes displayed in popular culture (movies, TV, etc.). For even the most stubborn of the “refuse to grow up” crowd, eventually the endless party of adolescence, where there is always some way to get avoid the full extent of the consequences of your actions, ends for most people when there is some consequence of their actions that they must shoulder fully. However, the human adolescent desire of having someone take care of them forever continues, and grows in a society that has grown weary of the struggle of life and only wants to enjoy the rights and privileges of a free society without shouldering any of the responsibilities that must be met to maintain such a society. We see such a society in most of modern-day Europe, with its penchant for socialism, its 35-hour work week and 4 weeks (minimum) of vacation (both state mandated)…
      .
      .
      .
      Will I wince at humanity’s portrayal in WALL*E? Now that I’ve read Mr. Stanton’s explanation of what was in his mind when making the decisions he did, no I don’t believe so. As for how the earth got into such a polluted state that mankind had to abandon it, I’ll just assume that Al Gore used up all available natural resources to power his palatial estates and jets.

    8. Jeff B Says:
      June 27th, 2008 at 1:31 pm

      You said “I’m trying to think of a major Disney cartoon feature that was anywhere near as dark or cynical as this.”

      I say look at this: http://www.google.com/search?q=disney+movies+parents+killed

      Cheers,

      Jeff

      P.S. A large majority of U.S. citizens are in fact overweight. Truth stings however the film is simply following the trend to it’s logical conclusion.

    9. Andrew Says:
      June 27th, 2008 at 4:21 pm

      @GeronimoRumplestiltskin

      Epic win.

    10. Josh Fenio Says:
      June 27th, 2008 at 5:16 pm

      Sounds like Harry Knowles. And you don’t have to go to Wall*E to see fat people zipping around in wheelchairs, take a look around sometime. Whew. People will get mock outraged over anything.

    11. Max Says:
      June 27th, 2008 at 9:12 pm

      >>>Those potato-y people of the future seemed uncomfortably close to paying guests of Walt Disney World

      So you’re upset that people of the future are close to the overweight people of the present?

      Or that fat people of today might see what this nation will become? Because I hate to break it to you, but the majority of people in the US are FAT. Pretending otherwise or making it wrong to point it out doesn’t change that.

      I guess you you like to live with rose colored glasses where obesity isn’t a problem, there are no environmental problems, and anything to even suggest that is blasphemy?

    12. Max Says:
      June 27th, 2008 at 9:14 pm

      Sorry one last post…

      This review is like the 600lb man being upset that someone called him fat. He’s fat, and being upset about the truth doesn’t make him thin.

      American consumers are fat at risk to their health and frankly I saw he movie as a warning to what we’d want to avoid. Not pretending that it’s not an issue.

      Ok I’m done.

    13. D Says:
      June 28th, 2008 at 3:41 am

      Basically, fat people should be encouraged not to be overweight in anyway possible.

    14. King Zilch Says:
      June 28th, 2008 at 3:45 am

      “…for more about the ragin’ political debate…”

      A couple of self-important blog-monkeys don’t exactly constitute a “ragin’ political debate.” Your attempt at controversy is adorable, though.

    15. Tom Says:
      June 28th, 2008 at 4:40 am

      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 guess the future is now.

    16. yoshi Says:
      June 28th, 2008 at 12:06 pm

      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 can think of one. It was a small art house movie created by a conservative from California. It was called Fantasia and it was made by Walk Disney.

    17. atlas spanked Says:
      June 28th, 2008 at 3:56 pm

      Humans are already devolving from Homo sapiens to Homo suburbianis - from upright, gracile individualists to sluglike, obese, herd-bound techno-mollusks.

      I mean, just look around. Then think what we did to wolves with less than 10,000 years of inbreeding. Poof! Chihuahuas and Shitzus. Now we’ve got cars, air conditioning, life support for every malfunction in the gene pool, buffets, bypasses, Big Macs, supersize fries, double-stuffed Oreos, motorized scooters, titanium replacements for overloaded joints.

      Forget 10,000 years, it’s occurring faster than Fox News can erase historical fact.

      An alien biologist visiting this planet would already class sapiens and suburbianis as different species on the basis of form, habitat use, feeding habits, and intellectual capability.
      Theoretically, these two populations can interbreed and produce viable offspring, but it never happens without an exchange of cash.

      Fortunately suburbianis can only live in the orchid hothouse of power-intensive urban feedlots. Put ‘em in the wild, and they die faster than poodles on the Serengeti, faster than Energizer bunnies can walk off a tabletop. Fat people, like knee-jerk ‘conservative’ outrage, can only survive in a bubble.

      It’s just like dinosaurs and mammals - the unadaptive species dies off, which is what will happen to suburbianis, and right-wingers, as the power supply tightens and the rest of humanity evolves forward, away from the druglike, rose-colored pull of backward Ronnie Reagan myth.

      Unfortunately, given a sofa and keyboard, these dinosaurs don’t die off gracefully or quietly. On the upside though, their hoglike squeals of outrage won’t slow the inevitable demise.

      Natural selection is a cruel but wonderful thing, and Darwinistic social theory has some positive underlying truths.

      So grab your popcorn and pull up a seat. This is one movie that’s gonna be really fun to watch.

    18. BurmaShave Says:
      June 28th, 2008 at 6:19 pm

      That actually sounds exactly like what’s going to happen to mankind, eventually. Fatasses in wheelchairs texting and eating milkshakes, ruled by a master corporation. Read a paper lately people? We’re 75% of the way there.

    19. Vic Says:
      July 1st, 2008 at 11:05 am

      Apparently you’ve lost track of what it means to be a conservative, and you, like so many other “conservatives” just enjoy lashing out angrily at whatever all the other republibots are.

      WALL-E actually has a decidedly conservative message that honors self-reliance, do-it-yourselfness and portrays as the incompetent antagonist a big government that has bloated to the point that it does literally everything for everyone.

      remember, it’s easier to open your eyes when you’re not blowing so hard.

    20. chaoman45 Says:
      July 2nd, 2008 at 1:45 am

      I watched it today, and I liked it.

      -_-’

      Look, according to my political climate, I’m supposed to be a Populist (Conservative). I don’t get why so many people get bent out of shape over this. That’s like saying we should ban CSI because it’s so graphic somebody might do it. Just because you saw a computer animation of what could MOST UNLIKELY happen doesn’t mean it will be real. As Vic said, WALL-E honors self-reliance. The humans had no real striking differences because they couldn’t think for themselves and relied on other things to do it.

      I mean come on people. Jesus tap-dancing Christ, it’s a CHILDREN’S MOVIE. Don’t take it so literally. >_>

    21. Some Guy Says:
      July 4th, 2008 at 5:57 am

      The age-old idea of taking something to its illogical conclusion for the purpose of making a pointed joke is in no way unique to this film. It seems needlessly judgemental to believe, in any way, that Pixar is trying to rip into their own customers.

      The premise of the film is the idea of a robot that is more human than humanity has become. The humans being ‘meat machines’ that exist purely to fuel a corporation is just one way of doing that.

      This alone is the entire idea behind the, quite fantastic, novel Jennifer Government. This doesn’t even have a kid-friendly robot and nobody’s accused Max Barry of hypocritically poking fun at the people who feed the corporations by buying his book; because he isn’t.

    22. jalnjr Says:
      July 5th, 2008 at 6:29 pm

      Bn’L…..
      be in hell

    23. Dan Says:
      July 9th, 2008 at 9:13 am

      saw the film last night…. pure genius!…. God Bless the makers - this society NEEDS a swift kick! - and
      WALL-E is the perfect mechanism - get off your a$$e$and live a
      M-E-A-N-I-N-G-F-U-L existance!….
      mass consumerism is killing Western Civilization - God bless WALL-E!….

    24. chaoman45 Says:
      July 11th, 2008 at 7:52 pm

      I wouldn’t say they need a swift kick, but again… it’s just a movie. If you really think we’ll F up the earth THAT much by 2110 and have it as a craptastic planet by 2815, you need to realize how probable that would be.

    25. Nyar Says:
      November 27th, 2008 at 9:09 pm

      “I’m also not sure I’ve ever seen a major corporation spend so much money to issue an insult to its customers.”

      I saw it more like an insulte (well deserved) to the big corporations and a waking call for the consumers… but I think everyone just see what they want to see…

    Comments