Study Guide

WALL-E

WALL-E Introduction


Release Year: 2008

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Family

Director: Andrew Stanton

Writer: Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, Jim Reardon

Stars: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin


For decades, Americans have been told to respect the environment.

But they just...can't.

In the speculative sci-fi slash adorable animated movie WALL-E, there's so much trash crowding Earth that we've invented an army of robots (called WALL-Es) to pick up our trash for us. 

But WALL-E is about more than just trash. It's the story of a robot who ends up falling in love with a high-tech scout bot named EVE and going on an interstellar adventure (sans McConaughey) to win her little digital heart...and maybe save Earth somewhere along the way. Basically, WALL-E the movie is made up of as many genres as WALL-E the robot is composed of cogs: it's like a post-apocalyptic-speculative-sci-fi-kids'-cartoon-love-story. 

Or something.

It was produced by Pixar and distributed by Disney in 2008, a little over 90 years before the garbapocalypse trashes Earth and sends humanity into space on the Axiom. Created by Andrew Stanton, who also helmed Finding Nemo and A Bug's Life, it features the voice talents of R2-D2, Peggy Hill, the slovenly dad from The Goldbergs, Sigourney Weaver as a computer, and a computer—an actual computer—as a robot. (Does it have a SAG membership?)

That little robot cost $180 million to produce and raked in over $223 million in the U.S., making it the #5 film of 2008, karate-chopping Kung-Fu Panda and taking a bite out of Twilight, losing only to a quartet of supermen: Batman, Iron Man, Indiana Jones, and… Hancock? (Remember him?)

Unlike Will Smith's critically panned, washed-up drunk crime fighter, WALL-E was well received, with critics calling it "breathtaking," "Disney-Pixar's greatest yet," and "post-apocalyptic and delightful" (source), and it scooped up Best Animated Film trophies at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes and the American Film Institute's Movie of the Year (source).

Then it squished all those trophies into a shiny cube.

But this little robot wasn't just simply adored: he was also controversial. 

WALL-E stirred up controversies over obesity and Steve Guttenberg fans were riled up about its depiction of future humans being fat and lazy and WALL-E's similarity to Johnny 5 from '80s comedy Short Circuit. But WALL-E, who lasted 700 years and counting in the film, is still popular years after its release, with fans creating life-size versions of WALL-E and fan-made sequels.

But before you stream any fan-made sequels to your nearest device, make sure you check out the original…before it's too late.

What is WALL-E About and Why Should I Care?

You've heard of postmodern and post-postmodern, but the age we currently live in is the pre-post-apocalyptic age. We're obsessed with the end of it all. Sometimes the world ends with a dance party or a flu-like virus; sometimes it's zombies, or zombies, or… zombies

And sometimes, it's our own stupid fault. Like in WALL-E, a cautionary tale about how laziness isn't just self-destructive—it could end up destroying the world. This laziness takes on a variety of forms, like depending on one corporation for every aspect of life, staring at a screen instead of the world around you, and eating about 10,000 more calories than you expend in a day.

Being a G-rated picture, WALL-E skips over most of the fall of Earth (which probably wasn't pretty) and gets right to the recovery of our beloved home planet. Unlike some grimmer post-apocalyptic stories, WALL-E's unique spin on the genre is to focus on non-human heroes, on hope, and on lurrrve.

Maybe the robots, being hardworking, are the ones who deserve l'amour. The humans, who screwed it all up in the first place, are going to have to work a little harder for love, sweet love.

Trivia

Some people see something a little more… sinister in WALL-E's motives. Instead of a survivor, they see a ruthless psychopathic murder-robot. Which makes us question his affection for EVE—is it love, or does he just want something new for his collection? (Source)

WALL-E is chock full of secrets, like hidden cameos from a certain Toy Story oinker and inside joke that's present in more cartoons than we have fingers to count. Here's a cheat sheet. (Source)

Many people compared WALL-E to Johnny 5, the robot from the 1986 Steve Guttenberg comedy Short Circuit… and some people are sick of it. Check this out and reach your own conclusions. (Source)

Could WALL-E find himself battling alongside Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and a host of Final Fantasy video game characters? He could if the director of Kingdom Hearts III gets his wish to put Pixar characters in his game. (Source)

WALL-E Resources

Websites

Robots Just Wanna Have Fun
What does WALL-E do once humans have cleaned up Earth? Play games, we guess. There are a variety of WALL-E-themed games on Disney's website

Book or TV Adaptations

Golden WALL-E
WALL-E has been adapted into a Little Golden Book for youngsters to read or chew on.

Beep Mine
There's a whole line of WALL-E books for young-but-older-than-drooling young readers, like Love at First Beep.

Fine Art
Those with finer tastes can samples the fine artwork of WALL-E in the beautiful The Art of WALL-E book. Keep your coffee cup off it.

Articles and Interviews

What's WALL-E "About"?
About Entertainment has an interview with Andrew Stanton about WALL-E's message… and it's not just an environmental one.

Hello, Andrew
Andrew Stanton talks about Hello, Dolly! and why he chose that film to say Hello, WALL-E!

Two Claws Up
Ebert thinks WALL-E is a great science-fiction film for viewers of all ages, whether they have thumbs or not.

Sign of the Times
NYT film critic A.O. Scott thinks WALL-E is A.O.K.

Video

Jackpot!
What happens in Vegas goes on YouTube when the Vegas film critic interviews Andrew Stanton about WALL-E.

The Secret of the Sounds
The sounds of WALL-E really have an effect on us. Here's how they were made.

WALL-E shorts
No, not WALL-E in shorts (they'd get tangled in his treads) but a bunch of short films starring our favorite little robot.

Audio

A Fresh Perspective
There might not be much fresh air left on Earth in WALL-E, but we still have Fresh Air, courtesy of Terry Gross and NPR.

Hold on a Second, Dolly
WALL-E isn't all Hello, Dolly songs and Louis Armstrong; it has a lovely original score to accompany many scenes.

Images

Building WALL-E
Before people could build life-size WALL-E robots, Pixar's artists had to create him line by line.

Where's WALL-do?
Can you find WALL-E in this massive crowd of robots? And can you identify all the other 'bots while you're at it?