What is it about robots?

One way in which my dad and I are alike is that we both love to go to movies. In fact, growing up, I remember us as going to see a movie and then out to dinner every Friday night. I’m sure we really didn’t go every Friday, but enough so that’s what my memory is. He’s always liked to see whatever the newest, hottest movie is the weekend (if not the first night) it opens.

I do too. The first / midnight showing if possible.

wall-eWhen the first Star Wars film came out in May of 1977, my family went on the opening Friday afternoon. Or rather, we would have gone except that when we got to our local San Diego theater, it was already sold out. My mother suggested we pick another film. My dad had another idea. He bundled us all into the car, went over to a pay phone and made a call. When he came back, he announced that we were going to get an early dinner at McDonald’s (a huge treat in itself as we rarely had fast food) and then we were driving to Palm Springs for their evening show. The manager had apparently promised to set aside 4 tickets (and besides hardly anyone was in Palm Springs in May). So we drove an hour and a half to another city just so we could see this great new thing. It was great too.

I mention it not just to point out why I love film and take it seriously, but because I fell in love that day. Unlike so many of my friends, it wasn’t with Han Solo either. I fell in love with R2-D2. So much so that it’s hard for me to feel menaced by the Doctor Who Daleks. After all, they do have the same sci-fi I’m-a-robot-not-a-trash-bin look about them. Part of me is still in love with him and was even pleased that in his more recent incarnations he’s been able to fly. (Why “he” is male is yet another question, but perhaps one for another blog entry).

With all this in mind, I’m very pleased that Pixar has created another film robot to fall in love with. His (and it appears clear that “his” is the correct gender) name is WALL-E ( for Waste Allocation Load Lifter – Earth Class) and he’s a great character. The film, also called WALL-E is delightful too.

Paul told me before we went that it was being hailed as “the best” film Pixar has ever done. That’s setting the bar pretty high as far as I’m concerned as both The Incredibles and Monsters Inc. are amazingly good. After seeing it this afternoon in a (warning: celebrity sighting alert*) Westwood audience that included Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Guest and their children, I do think it’s a unique Pixar film. Why? Because it doesn’t rely on voice acting to carry the story– in fact there’s very little dialog for much of the film. The animation has to carry the emotional weight of the story, and it does it beautifully.

Maybe that’s a reason (other than his basic cuteness) that WALL-E reminds me R2-D2. Neither robot can speak, yet they manage to convey enough emotion and goodness that as a viewer I became completely attached. Oh yes. They also both manage to save the world.

Okay, R2 helped save the universe, but you know what I mean.

* Before you ask, no I didn’t go over and talk to them or ask for autographs. This is Los Angeles and that sort of thing just isn’t done. Especially when famous people are somewhere with their family. That said, this is as least the 6th time I’ve run into Jaime Lee Curtis in Los Angeles or Santa Monica over the years which is definitely more than any other Hollywood person that I don’t actually know. Weird.

4 thoughts on “What is it about robots?

  1. Lavender

    Hi Mija, I’m glad you’re back and feeling better. I really missed your writing – you were the first person I found on SSS and I never since found anybody whose comments I liked quite as much 🙂

  2. Daddy'sLucy

    Mija, I loved WALL-E! Daddy and I went to see that this weekend, and it was amazing. I cried through the last half hour. I’m one who is ambivalent about robots, but terrified of space, so it was nice to see a space movie that didn’t scare me 🙂

  3. Dave

    Film students are going to be writing critiques and essays on Wall-E, as there are so many subtexts and such to this masterwork.
    In a nutshell, it’s one of the best films I have seen in a very long time.


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