New York Times’ Frank Rich has this to say:
Among its other attributes, this particular G-rated film, ‚ÄúWall-E,‚Äù is a rare economic bright spot. Its enormous box-office gross last weekend swelled a total Hollywood take that was up 20 percent from a year ago. (You know America‚Äôs economy is cooked when everyone flocks to the movies.) The ‚ÄúWall-E‚Äù crowds were primed by the track record of its creator, Pixar Animation Studios, and the ecstatic reviews. But if anything, this movie may exceed its audience‚Äôs expectations. It did mine.
As it happened, ‚ÄúWall-E‚Äù opened the same summer weekend as the hot-button movie of the 2004 campaign year, Michael Moore‚Äôs ‚ÄúFahrenheit 9/11.‚Äù Ah, the good old days. Oil was $38 a barrel, our fatalities in Iraq had not hit 900, and only 57 percent of Americans thought their country was on the wrong track. (Now more than 80 percent do.) ‚ÄúWall-E,‚Äù a fictional film playing to a far larger audience, may touch a more universal chord in this far gloomier time.
Indeed, sitting among rapt children mostly under 12, I felt as if I‚Äôd stepped through a looking glass. This movie seemed more realistically in touch with what troubles America this year than either the substance or the players of the political food fight beyond the multiplex‚Äôs walls.
He goes on to write:
Humanity is not dead in ‚ÄúWall-E,‚Äù but it is in peril. The world‚Äôs population cruises the heavens ceaselessly on a mammoth luxury spaceship that it boarded in the early 22nd century after the planet became uninhabitable. For government, there is a global corporation called Buy N Large, which keeps the public wired to umpteenth-generation iPods and addicted to a diet of supersized liquefied fast food and instantly obsolete products. The people are too bloated to walk ‚Äî they float around on motorized Barcaloungers ‚Äî but they are happy shoppers. A billboard on the moon heralds a Buy N Large outlet mall ‚Äúcoming soon,‚Äù not far from that spot where back in the day of ‚ÄúHello, Dolly!‚Äù idealistic Americans once placed a flag.
And yet these rabid consumers, like us, are haunted by what paradise might have been lost. How can they reclaim what matters? How can Earth be recolonized? These questions are rarely spoken in ‚ÄúWall-E,‚Äù but are omnipresent, like half-forgotten dreams. In this movie, a fleeting green memory of the extinct miracle of photosynthesis is as dazzling and elusive as the emerald city of Oz.
But finally, he says Obama has jumped the shark and McCain is out of touch, so:
Mr. McCain should be required to see ‚ÄúWall-E‚Äù to learn just how far adrift he is from an America whose economic fears cannot be remedied by his flip-flop embrace of the Bush tax cuts (for the wealthy) and his sham gas-tax holiday (for everyone else). Mr. Obama should see it to be reminded of just how bold his vision of change had been before he settled into a front-runner‚Äôs complacency. Americans should see it to appreciate just how much things are out of joint on an Independence Day when a cartoon robot evokes America‚Äôs patriotic ideals with more conviction than either of the men who would be president.
Why do I think this column is going to stir controversy? I sense that the problems presented in the sublime Wall-E are bigger than any US presidential candidate can solve. This is a global. Still, gotta love Frank Rich for such an impassioned plea of the kind we rarely read anywhere anymore.