Wall-E is kind of the kids sequel version of Mike Judge’s Idiocracy. In Idiocracy the world its being swamped by rubbish, and everyone is become slack jawed servants of a dumbed down society. In Wall-E the humans have left a waste strewn Earth and are drifting around in space morbidly obese in their hover chairs (at least until the idiosyncratic Hello Dolly loving robot comes and reminds them of their own humanity). Similar plots, though only one has a monster truck battle. And it isn’t the kids film!

Much has been written about the politics of Wall-E (from its anti-obesity scare tactics to its not exactly hidden green agenda). What I think is Wall-E’s real legacy however is being a film which can expand and signpost new areas of interest for kids. Rather than the usual whiz-bang action adventure that children’s films tend to be these days, it is a bit more thoughtful, and lays the seeds for kids to discover whole new worlds of fiction. Wall-E is clearly a well made science fiction tale, posing some standard early sci-fi questions* – opening the air-lock to an Aladdin’s Space Cruiser of speculative fiction. But it is also a hefty emotional romance, tinged with heartbreak and sweeping rescues. You’ll not find many a Mills & Boon about robots, but you will find analogs of this plot. It also contains within it two constant nagging reprieves from Hello Dolly, so it could even stir an affection for musicals.

Pixar have always pushed innovative boundaries with all of their films, but now the technology has been tamed they seem just as interested in pushing the kind of stories traditionally dished up to kids. The film it reminded me tonally more than anything was ET (though without quite the devastating power of that film). Which also leads me to a slightly disquieting thought. I am sure the emotional heft of ET has left me more pro-alien than anti, and I daresay Wall-E does much the same for robots. Which could of course be a bad thing. Wall-E may be creating a generation who, for one, will embrace their robot overlords. Romantically. With hugs.

*Not just about recycling, rubbish and waste disposal, but also nature of the self, mind/body dualism and what emotions really are. Though the biggest question I came out with was how exactly did the various generations of morbidly obese humans pro-create?

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