We then went to a multicineplex off 495 and caught WALL-E anyway, and I was so happy to see it (I do confess that I was glad we saw it on a large cinema screen with full surround sound and all, as I don't think the drive-in experience would've done the film justice.)
I loved the opening sequence. The film accomplished so much with "silence" though honestly in this case, silence just means "lack of major dialogue". The silence gave such a lonely, empty, atmospheric feel to WALL-E's desolate home and watching him go about his daily work, just as he'd done for years and years and years on end, was astonishing and compelling. In this regard it's really a challenging film to mainstream audiences. You must observe the action and interaction between the robotic characters without the benefit of being spoon-fed expository dialogue and/or wisecracks at every plot point. Gasp! Having to make contextual connections and actually watch the screen! You mean we have to think? I feel bad for those who could not follow the story without their familiar crutch, and thus deemed it "boring". Watching WALL-E's silent film pratfalls and navigating whatever environment he was in could've hardly been boring.
I mean, let's face it, this film could have easily been given dialogue: WALL-E and EVE could have easily been voiced by Big Hollywood Stars and the supporting robots all given wacky voices and silly, stereotyped characterizations (the painter robot with an Outrageous Fronsh Accent! The gay hairdresser robot! The tiny but sassy cleaning robot voiced by Wanda Sykes!) ... but saner heads prevailed, and the film is so much the richer for it.
Compare this to the preview which we saw for "Beverly Hills Chihuahua", a live-action talking animal movie which, on the poster, helpfully tells you that it's pronounced "chee-wa-wa". (Disney did the same thing for Ratatouille, but in this day and age I'd think more Americans would know what a chihuahua was than a French dish with crazy dipthongs and stuff.) During the trailer we saw George Lopez voice the chihuahua and Drew Barrymore voice a fancy handbag dog and, as you can probably guess, a lot of the humor comes from watching a dog say stuff like "Oh no she dint!"
Now I'm not saying that if given the WALL-E treatment, Beverly Hills Chihuahua could become a beautiful atmospheric film and pull the heartstrings and give us more reasons to love
And then this brings us to those trying to find Shocking And Horrible complaints from a mostly-conservative perspective, who could not see the forest for their Righteous Indignation. I did not see the story as a condemnation of "Us" as a consumerist culture (and if you begin your critique with "I don't like how the film portrays us" then you've already revealed some kind of deep-seated shame, as the "Us" in this live over 700 years in the future.) Now yes, the people on board Axiom had grown fat and complacent and wired into everything, and yes, perhaps that's carrying a Cautionary Message about what might happen to us if we continue down the path to corporate theocracy (ooh I like that phrase) but honestly, the Axiom inhabitants were products of their surroundings. All their whims were catered to, everything they needed was provided by the benevolent Buy-N-Large gods, and zero-G helped make 'em chubby.
But once those folks saw what they were missing (oh, say, like walking, or even just looking out a window) they took to it with open minds instead of just going "oh, blah blah blah, whatever, let's be negative lazy stereotypes instead and go back to our floating Barcaloungers and video screens." That they were willing to even consider a change speaks volumes about their character, and the closing credits montage of the kids learning how to do stuff on their own moved me the most, for some hippy-dippy reason.
If all someone could see from that film were "lol fat lazy Americans lol" then I wonder what they thought of the ensuing change. Didn't they see that as positive? Or were they already frothing at the mouth by that point, coming up with ways to work their children into their critiques or making some lame-ass Al Gore crack about the environmental message of waste?
These are the types of people who will absolutely adore Beverly Hills Chihuahua because it won't have a single "message" bone in its body unless there's some froo-frah about "little dogs can be big heroes too". You know. The kind of moral that makes me retch.
So to sum up here, the movie was absolutely beautiful, its story flaws were overshadowed by its atmosphere and characterizations, and I can't find anything to gnash my teeth over because I actually like thinking for myself.
But mad props to the FoxNews commentator who used the phrase "Malthusian influences" in his condemnation of the film, when approximately 95% of his target audience probably don't know who Malthus was. Way to go, Mr. Big Three-Dollar Word Smartypants!