Given the choice between live action and animated feature films, 9 times out of 10 I'll choose the latter. I even find those lackluster ones, like, The Emperor's New Groove, curiously engaging (Patrick Warburton's terrific delivery alone is worth a spot in your Netflix queue). For me, Pixar easily turns out the best animated features (to say nothing of their stupendous shorts "“ did you happen to catch Ransom's awesome post on the early ones?). I really don't recall ever leaving the theater feeling unsatisfied, uninspired, bereft, or bemused after a Pixar evening. That is, until Andrew Stanton's WALL-E. Now don't get me wrong "“ I still laughed, cried, kissed 40 bucks goodbye and all that clichÃ©d rat-a-tat. It was a highly anticipated night out at the movies that more or less delivered, especially considering the film's theme, ambition, and design execution (I couldn't dream up a better post-apocalyptic world, that's for certain). But as the credits rolled, I was left scratching my head over the following 5 points, and I'm hoping you guys have some answers:
(n.b.: major spoilers follow)
1) Why was Shelby Forthright, the BnL CEO, acted by Fred Willard? Every other "human" in the film was animated, as it should be. I happen to be a Willard fan, though I thought he was completely miscast in this role, which wasn't really a comedic one. But never mind that: Why the live action? Am I the only one who was bothered by this anomaly?
2) Every time Eve was given the plant, a program was put into execution that shot her back to the ship. And it looked like that was going to happen again when WALL-E and Eve were freefalling through space. But then suddenly they were taking their good old time going back to the ship, enjoying the brief moment alone. Whenever writers create a world, they create rules that govern that world. Here the Eve-plant rule had been established but then broken willy-nilly and I was left wondering why. Any ideas?
3) A film like this usually employs the old ticking clock at the end: figure out how to disarm the bomb before it explodes, emerge from the depths of the ocean before running out of oxygen, etc. And Stanton & Co. wanted us to feel like there indeed WAS a ticking clock: get back to earth before"¦ before"¦ before WHAT? Where was the bomb? The mutiny had already been squelched and there didn't seem to be any other threat. WALL-E was "dying," but as we saw before, after a blast of sunshine, he'd be good to go whenever. I didn't understand what was so pressing post-mutiny. Did you?
4) When WALL-E's memory chips were fried and his circuit board replaced, it would stand to follow that he wouldn't remember his former life, and Eve and the adventure he'd just been on. What, er, ON EARTH, was going on there at the end then? I'm all for suspension of disbelief folks, and I saw the happy ending with Eve coming way back in the concessions line, but the way it all came together didn't work"¦ not by any stretch of the imagination. Anyone else bothered by the memory chips/circuit board switcheroo? Did I miss something?
5) One of Pixar's strengths is their ability to create films that appeal on many levels, to many different people. I loved Finding Nemo in a way altogether different from my 4-year-old nephew, who liked it differently than my friend's 13-year-old daughter, etc. I'm still trying to figure out what 4-year-old would enjoy sitting through the first act of a film like WALL-E. Anyone take young kids to this? Any of those kids able to sit through the first 20 minutes or so, until WALL-E and Eve headed off on their adventure? Again, I really enjoyed the first act of the film, especially its ambition, but I couldn't help but notice the fidgeting kids in the aisle below me, and the overall lack of children in the theater. It occurred to me that maybe WALL-E was really intended for adults only. But a quick Google search turns up plenty of Wall-E birthday party ideas, kids merchandise, etc. Any ideas? Clearly I was just suffering from jetlag the night I saw the film and now you're all going to tell me what a huge nincompoop I am and correct my misguided critique of this amazing film, right? Lay it on me.