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July 5th, 2008 | 2 min read

By Keith E. Buhler

Wall-E is one of those movies where the less you know about it the better you’ll enjoy it.

For that reason, I am going to give you smart shoppers out there the bottom line: I give it a thumbs up. Go see it.

If you're the kind of person who reads reviews before seeing movies, you should probably check out Ebert and Mathews-Green’s reviews.

To these I will add only three comments:

1. Wall-E succeeds in getting audiences out of their head and into their eyeballs. It is a very non-verbal film; the screenplay (without storyboards) was probably fifteen pages. Yet it succeeds in telling (showing?) a complicated, detailed, engaging, and entertaining story. (Wall-E also gets audiences out of their heads and into their emotions, but this is an effect of a good many-films.)

2. Wall-E gets audiences out of their heads and into their bodies. Movies, like old-fashioned radio shows or modern TV, share the notorious side-effect of slowly but surely coaxing audience members into willingly forgetting their corporeal existence for the sake of the images and words streaming into their imaginative centers – we become a brain on a couch. This forgetting of the body is not only unpleasant in the long run (isn’t tennis fun ˆbecauseˆ it hurts?) but results in obesity and a split self. Now, any attempt from TV or film to counteract this effect is inevitably ironic. For some attempts, the irony kills it. (One thinks of a lengthy, colorful, entertaining infomercial “selling” it’s zombie-like audience a vigorous exercise program.) Yet some attempts embrace the irony and put it to good use. Wall-E is such an attempt. As an audience member I am supposed to ˆfeelˆ my corporeality during the movie, by contrast to the highly stylized CG reality of the film. And, if I’m listening, I’m supposed to do something about it. Take the hand of the loved one next to you. Introduce yourself to a stranger after the film. Put down your Wii remote and play some real tennis.

3. Wall-E succeeds in getting audiences out of their eyeballs and emotions and into their intellects. Sounds like a contradiction? I don’t think so. At least I know you’re awake. Wall-E is indeed non-verbal, but the filmmakers have taken all the time and energy and thought they would have invested in a script, and re-invested it into the images. As a result the visual direction is precisely, almost overwhelmingly intentional. By visually engaging these complex and often deeply meaningful images, the audience is invited to exercise a deeper kind of intelligence than that of merely following some dialogue or a plot. You must watch the scratchings on the cave wall and begin to see beyond the surface to the thought, intention, interconnectedness beneath. Along with the literally dozens of visual gags, inter-film dialogue, and political commentary, this makes Wall-E a fascinating conversation piece.

In sum,

1. see Wall-E.
2. Enter deeply into the non-verbal narrative of the story.
3. Plan for plenty of time afterwards to get coffee or dessert with friends and talk about the hundreds of clues, hints, and meaningful images.