Wall-E, Obesity, and The Magic Touch

My kids saw a preview of this movie about a month ago and insisted I would love it. But I just got to Wall-E last night, and I wasn't meshuggeh for it ("meshuggeh"-Yiddish for crazy about). See the trailer here

It's directed by Andrew Stanton, written by Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter and is very cute, but there isn't any real dialog for people who just need words. I think a lot of bloggers are really writers. You don't have to publish a book to be a writer, you know.

But here we have the muffled electronic voices of robots and you might have to work in order to catch their meaning, which turned me off, since I'm kind of lazy when I go to the movies. Don't make me work.

The relationships in the movie are priceless, however, worth the ticket alone. The love interest (there has to be one) is between Wall-E, a robot garbage compactor, and Eve, a complementary robot sent to a nuclear devastated Earth. Mission? Find life.

WARNING: No question, this post contains spoilers.

Although initially relationships on Earth in this film are between robots, it's their physical touch, that shy and gentle electric connection that happens when a person (or a robot) holds hands, that got to me, and surely, will get to anyone watching Wall-E. Finger to finger connectivity. It's primal.

Remember the Beatle song? I Want to Hold Your Hand? I was a kid, 6th grade, transistor radio (google that) in hand at recess, trading Beatles cards when I heard it for the first time (I think). Had they the rights, Pixar could have inserted that song in this film somewhere. Maybe not.

I Want to Hold Your Hand is an innocent song, and most of them were when I was a kid. People in my generation memorized every one of the Top Ten songs on the "charts." To me, that should tell you everything about how kids learn, but that's not the message of this movie, although the joy of innocence might be.

Back to our story.

The reason my kids wanted me to see Wall-E is that it features my favorite all time song, It Only Takes a Moment. This is perhaps THE most romantic song ever written. Below is a YouTube video of a production with Pearl Bailey, Jack Crowder, Emily Yancy, and Cab Calloway. Compare that to whatever heavy metal you're into these days.

But even with the song, even with It Only Takes a Moment, and marvelous animation, a lovely story and cool relationship models, I didn't really like the movie and wished we'd gone to the Dark Knight or Mama Mia instead. I just couldn't take almost an hour or more with virtually no dialog, with the exception of snatches of an ancient Hello Dolly video, one of the few things to have survived the nuclear holocaust that devastated Earth.

How do I tell them? How do I tell the kids? I can't. I just can't.

But wait! There's more. I really did like something else, although it took me awhile to figure out why.

FD found the treatment of obesity in Wall-E degrading. Up in space, cruising endlessly for centuries, humans have virtually nothing to do but wax fat, which they do, and they consume endless quantities of extra-large everything, and they, themselves are super-sized. But I didn't mind it, in fact, I thought this depiction quite charming.

As long as people shower every day (yes, it's a requirement in life, with few exceptions) I don't care how many extra fat cells they've encouraged on life's journey. An empath senses through all layers, but we're deathly allergic to bad smells.

I think I liked the whole of humankind obese because ultimately, they needed their fat. We learn that maybe it's okay to store up a little, maybe a lot of energy, if you're going to eventually use it. Because maybe you will need it one day. Ultimately we understand, thanks to Wall-E, that a combination of exercise and productive physical outdoor activity may be nature's most natural answer to obesity.

That, and starving until you grow some food.


This one is from Indigo 1045 on YouTube who writes the following. Thanks Indigo.
From the brilliant "Hello Dolly," starring Pearl Bailey and Cab Calloway, here we have just a "slideshow" of the play and some of its performers. Saw this several times, and will attest to the fact that one of the dancing waiters was none other than the amazing Morgan Freeman! He "may be" the young man to Pearl Bailey's right hand, on one knee. I know he was actually "named, featured and mentioned as Rudolph," in the LP/CD production.

Beautiful Emily Yancy and handsome Jack Crowder, (later to be known as Thalmus Rasulala,) are the two lovers singing here.


Still Dreaming said…
I can't stand movies with no dialogue. I had that problem with the Narnia movie that just came out. The characters never really said anything, there was no depth at all! I like movies where I can close my eyes and listen and still have a fairly good idea what's going on. Not that I do that, but I like to be able to if I wanted to.
frumhouse said…
My kids thought it was ok. I spent most of the time in the hall with my little guy who was bored after the first 15 minutes - I actually had more fum with him! I also need dialogue to stay engaged.
Anonymous said…
Haven't seen the movie so I can't really comment but that song. Oh my goodness, that song!

You know when something is so beautiful it sends shivers down your spine? That did the trick for me =)
tcgirl said…
Not a kid movie, I thought. And the part about the fat people.... Didn't anybody else get some reference to everyone's bones having lost density due to so many years (700!?) in space? And so the hoverbed/chairs which were originally designed for the elderly became the mode of locomotion for most people. I also liked that there were no "evil" characters, just an overly zealous robot, and that the moral of the story was about preserving life and not about blaming someone or something for the problem.
therapydoc said…
I know, Catatonic, I know.
therapydoc said…
and TC, hi. Don't get me started with the bone density. I'm terrified as it is.
cb said…
I haven't seen the film (I have though seen Mamma Mia.. a few times and highly recommend!) but some great points you make. And that song.. thanks for that. I enjoyed it a lot.
i dozed during the early part where there was none to very very little dialogue. i thought it had a good, but ironic message. in the end it was about getting back to roots, environment, living life. But the irony was that I walked out of the multiplex and was in a mall and a movie is by definition perpetuating sitting still, escaping, etc.

i like what you wrote about this - specifically about the human - magic touch.

i also liked your other recent posts - about the olympics, and about the call you got. the call story really got to me. it was meant to be - providential - that hecalled a second time.

do you feel strongly about the word patient over client?
therapydoc said…
Thanks so much, Neil.

No, nothing special about patient vs client. But people see me as doctor, so I go with patient. It doesn't matter. Some call me by my first name, some call me Doc, some call me Mrs.___ It doesn't matter to me. It's not about me.
Ahh... the difference between art therapy and verbal therapy comes to the fore.

I loved Wall-E, loved the visuals (especially the opening scene that sweeps us over the burned-out Earth, and the animated end credits (a brief history of art thrown in with the history of agricultural development).

And that miminalist approach toward graphic representation of facial expression in the two robots? Fantastic, and a source of envy for those of us trying to "just get those eyes right right" when drawing a portrait or even a cartoon representation.

There's no doubt, in therapy the words are often central... but what about the other 70%, the very reason you (and I, and most others) feel a need to see patients and not conduct phone therapy? Body language, facial expression.... it's all in Wall-E, along with a creative wake-up-call-with-a-dose-of-optimism storyline and beautifully rendered space and Earth scenery.

What art...