I really don't go to the movies that often, but I do try to see every Pixar feature. Their animation and storytelling are head and shoulders above those of the competition. So I was planning on seeing "WALL-E" anyway, especially after it received such rapturous reviews.
But, then I was in the Drama Book Shop on 40th Street, one of my few remaining theater haunts, now that Footlight Records closed its retail store, and Triton Gallery moved to God knows where. I overheard the Drama Book Shop staff discussing "WALL-E," and how Hello, Dolly! somehow played a key role in the plot. I left almost immediately, lest I overhear any further spoilers. But I left intrigued, and decided to get going a bit early yesterday and catch an early show of "WALL-E" before I saw Passing Strange in the afternoon and then Bash'd in the evening.
Well, I was thoroughly enchanted, as I have been for nearly every Pixar feature. ("Cars" didn't really do it for me, but I adore "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles," "Monsters Inc.," etc.) I had heard that there was very little dialog in the first half of "WALL-E," and that once the talking starts, some of the magic disappears. I disagree: I was charmed from start to finish.
Pixar movies have something that no other animation studio has been able to replicate: a heart. Not a schmaltzy sense of sentimentality, but a genuine, honest heart. Of course, the real fun for me came from WALL-E's obsession with the "Hello, Dolly!" movie. He's particularly enamored with "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" and "It Only Takes a Moment," and the latter becomes especially important to the movie's dénouement.
In "WALL-E," the world has been overrun with garbage, and the entire population of earth takes off in spaceships to wait for the world to become inhabitable again. Now, it's not as though showtunes are the mechanism by which the world starts to heal, but they certainly serve a very important role. It appears that there's a big old queen working at Pixar, and he's working a little Disney magic to subliminally suggest to kids that showtunes are crucial to human survival.
Now that's some propaganda I can live with.