“WALL-E” is a movie about wanting more out of life. The plucky main character knows somehow, despite his programming, that there is something in the world beside crushing garbage. He finds joy and wonder in the cast off belongings of the people who have abandoned the planet. Christmas lights, VHS tapes, Rubik cubes, jewelry boxes; there are so many things that WALL-E has saved and cherished. This detritus has shaped his character and made him more than he was. That is precisely what made him want more. In an enviable twist, WALL-E’s quest to get more out of life led directly to others leaving their safe and comfortable worlds that had been created for them. They were infected by his enthusiasm and felt the need for more as well. WALL-E’s influence spread to EVE, the other robots, John, Mary, and others until the climactic moment the Captain of the Axiom declares, “I don’t want to survive. I want to live.” The world has been changed irrevocably by the simple desire of one little robot who wants more.
One of the reasons that “WALL-E” is my favorite Pixar movie is that I can identify with the main character. I am a creature of habit. I will happily put my head down, get through my assigned tasks, and not really think about what else is going on. I will occasionally look up at my surroundings, but if left to my own devices I can go days without speaking to another human being and barely notice. When I do notice, I think to myself, ‘This can’t be right’. My life cannot be so small that I don’t even notice the smallness of it. I cannot be so enmeshed in my routines that I don’t even notice what is missing. Sadly, that is a truth of my life. These revelations come in strange and unusual ways. At one point in life I noticed that I had been packing the same sandwich in my lunch for two years. Two years of ham and swiss! I found it a sad statement on my life and bought myself some salami and provolone. In fact I made it a policy to buy whichever deli meat was on sale that week. I packed corned beef, turkey, and ham. I really changed it up and packed leftovers and frozen dinners. Once a week I would go out for lunch. it didn’t take long however for that to become its very own routine. Sandwich on Monday, leftovers on Tuesday, eat out on Wednesday… you know how it goes. I do so love my routines.
In the overall scheme of life what I eat for lunch is a relatively small issue but, for me, it is indicative of a larger trend. I don’t try new things. I don’t go new places. I don’t meet new people. I survive, happily and comfortably for the most part, but I don’t know if I live. My life can be so much bigger than it is. There is so much to do and say out there in the world. I know this, but it is hard to leave my comfortable space to go find it. I want a bigger life, but going out and getting one is terrifying. Maybe that’s why I like WALL-E so much. He does what I think about doing. He enthusiastically grabs the wider world and lives into it. There are consequences and they are frightening and heart-breaking but he goes forwards anyway. I should be so brave. We should all be so brave.
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