Tag Archives: Wall*E

Up with Up

OK, I know this film was out in The States over the summer, but it’s only just arriving in cinemas over here in Britain. I went to see it last night.  Today’s great thing is yesterday’s great thing for some many of my fellow Americans:
103. Pixar’s Up


Pixar's Up

You know, when I first saw Wall*E last year, I couldn’t get over how amazing and touching and original it was. What a movie! What a message!  Pixar, in all their success, makes me proud to be an American.  As a film fanatic living in Britain, I’m all too often reminded what a copycat factory Hollywood typically is.  We produce cheesy romantic comedies, brash and violent films based on toy company properties, and the occasional overwrought melodrama.  Don’t get me wrong, I usually lap up all that crap happily.  But whilst I can usually defend American movies on the basis of being wholly entertaining, I could never rightfully argue that much of it is ‘artful’.  Pixar though…they just make me so patriotic.  They are proof that not everyone in the American film-making business is a brain-dead hack.  People in fricking France could watch Up and be impressed by its beauty.

Anyway, around a year ago was when Pixar first announced that filmmaker Pete Docter’s Up was to be Pixar’s 2009 release.  (Usually, when Pixar releases one film, they let you know a wee bit about what is next on the slate.)  After seeing Wall*E and then subsequently reading about this challenger to the throne–a film about an old codger and his house tied to balloons, I thought–“No way, man!  This film is bound to suck in comparison.  Nothing can top Wall*EWall*E forever!”.  (That’s pretty much verbatim what went through my head when I first saw the production article for Up in Total Film magazine.

This is Pixar’s tenth film and Docter is a Pixar veteran having directed Monster’s Inc. (another one of my faves) and contributed to last year’s absolutely amazing Wall*E.  I still think that Wall*E should have taken the award for best picture last year…but it seems that now that Animated Films have their own category, they’ll never be nominated for the main prize.  It’s a bit unfair, really.  Why not just create a genre category for everything?  That way, the standard tear-jerking drama that ALWAYS wins the top honor at the Oscars can stop bumping other worthy and ground-breaking films out of the way.


Dug. I just met him and I love him.

As most readers are already aware, Up is the story of an old man, Carl Fredericksen, who makes a grand attempt at fulfilling his lifelong dream of following adventurer hero–Charles F. Muntz–into the South American jungle.  He does this by fixing millions of helium-filled balloons to his house.

Let me just say that I spent the first fifteen minutes of this film crying so hard that my neck was wet from the tears falling down from behind my 3D glasses and spent the remainder of the film hysterically laughing.  One of the prime sources of mirth is talking dog character–Dug.  A golden retriever wearing a special language collar that translates his thoughts into spoken language.  Peterson voices this character and admits to adapting the hilarious ‘I have just met you and I love you” line from something a child once said to him when he was a camp counselor.  Awww.

Without giving too much away, let’s just say that another hefty majority of the laughs belong to Alpha, a Doberman Pinscher with the same ability to communicate but with his ‘voice’ on a different setting.

I think my initial reaction to the announcement of this film–that of  “you’ll never be better than Wall*E” was partially born out of my resentment that an old white man should get to be the center of attention–yet again!!!  Let me explain.  I spend an hour every night watching a political news broadcast from back home.  So, I spend a lot of time seething at old white men who are far too entitled and spend their days and powers stopping American progress.  I suppose it’s a bit unfair to generalize the situation to apply to every single old white man.  Additionally, as a woman–I’m constantly disappointed by how few vehicles are created with women as the central characters.  Take for instance “The Simpsons”, one of my favorite shows by a mile.  Still, how many female characters can you think of that are regulars on that show?  There are over a hundred regularly occurring characters.  Let’s take a tally (of only the regularly featured characters) that are female:  Marge, Lisa, Maggie, Krabapple, Mrs. Skinner, Sherri and Terri, Patty, Selma, Crazy Cat Lady, Mrs. Hoover…that’s about it.  Yeah yeah, I know…there’s Mrs. Lovejoy and Mrs. Hibbert and some other Mrs.’s to count–but honestly, Crazy Cat Lady probably appears more than any of them…and has more to say.  My point is, there’s not a lot of consideration for making women more prominent in film and television.  So, I guess that sort of rubbed me the wrong way too.  I was just not in the mood to hear that yet again, our hero would be another middle-aged to old white guy.  But, what can I say, I’m glad I put my knee-jerk liberal feminism aside and went and saw this movie anyway.  (As if I wouldn’t have gone to see the latest Pixar…).

It’s a beautiful HUMAN story, much more rooted in earthly bi-ped reality than most other feature-length toons and it shouldn’t be missed.  (And as far as my PC policing goes–it at least features on of animations first Asian-American lead characters in Russel…the good intentioned and loquacious Wilderness Guide.)

Also, the lead-in cartoon Partly Cloudy is one of the best shorts I’ve seen in a looong time.  It’s actually written and directed by the gentleman whose jubilant personality inspired Docter in creating the character of Russel.


Partly Cloudy

In doing a bit of background reading for this entry, I came across this story of a 10-year-old girl from Hntington Beach whose last wish was to see this film before she died from vascular cancer.  It’s nice to know that Pixar made such an effort to help that happen but it’s still a tearful story to read. article

Here’s a glimpse of why this movie is so special.  Meet Dug:


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Johnny 5 is Alive!!!!

Everyone loves Wall*E.  That includes me.  I just saw it last night and like all the world over, I am smitten with it.

Let’s not forgot that lovable robot from the 80’s though that, in appearance, kind of looks like Wall*E’s dad.  Johnny 5.  They’ve both even been compared to Christ figures!  For those of you that have seen “Wall*E”, does that make EVE the Mary Magdalene?



Demanding a DNA test...

Swears that Guttenberg is the dad...

Though the two bear some striking similarities, career-wise, they are quite different.  Whilst Wall*E is a trash-bot, Johnny 5 is a reformed warmonger.  Anyway, as you can probably guess, our twelfth entry into the hall of greatness is:
12.  Johnny 5
Please keep in mind that I was ten when I saw this film.  It was really the perfect age to enthuse over a sassy robot with a heart of gold. 
This was also an era when we saw the potential of real robots as toys…sure they weren’t very advanced–mostly models like Radio Shack’s Robie the Robot and an assortment of robot pets that could essentially go forward, reverse, and make noises.  Still, the promise of having your very own Johnny 5 seemed like it would only be months away!  Additionally, the late 80’s was a time when films came with hit soundtracks (or at least singles).  Chart-toppers like El Debarge’s “Who’s Johnny” from “Short-Circuit” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Good Enough (Goonies Are)” from “The Goonies” served as a pleasant flashback to the film everytime you heard them on top 40 radio or spun the 45 on your turntable.  This only served to deepen my obsession with movies.
Johnny 5 was, of course, a robot who was intent on learning about the human experience.  Hit by an electrical surge, he becomes ‘alive’, rejects his original purpose, that of destruction, and ambles on his robot treads into the lives of Stephanie Speck and Newton Crosby.  His heartwarming and comedic adventures include protecting his human friends from the destructive forces of NOVA robotics (usually whilst screaming ‘no disassemble Stephanie’), watching “3 Stooges” films, and learning how to disco dance.  Coincidentally, the director of “Short Circuit”,  also directed “Saturday Night Fever”.  You can watch him recycle his footage here!
You notice how Stephanie keeps pushing Johnny 5 to go to bed?  Do robots have a bed time?  I guess if he really wants to learn how to behave like a human, he’ll have to at least pretend to sleep in the evening.  But, if you’re gonna get that pushy, you may as well demand that he go to the toilet as well.  And that would just be nuts.
Or…maybe I’m missing something here and she’s actually lonelier than we thought and is just trying to get him in the sack.  It’s rated PG, so that’s probably not the case.  Though he is definitely a more appealing option than Steve Guttenberg in that regard.

Probably gets enough crap from other blogs

Probably gets enough crap from other blogs



I also like how a Johnny 5 out-acts Ally Sheedy in that scene.  Her line readings are actually more robotic than the robot’s.
FYI, Tim Blaney–a puppeteer–supplies the voice for Johnny 5.  He was the voice of Frank the Pug in the “Men in Black” films.  He also played the voice of The Navigator in “Flight of the Navigator”, which, in my opinion, is close enough to playing another robot that we might be able to consider a pattern here.  To my knowledge, he has never played any gorillas.
If you’d like to read more about Johnny 5’s greatness, check out this site:  http://www.johnny-five.com/
It’s full of all kinds of excitement…old articles from Starlog magazine, interviews, photos, video clips.  Even some promotional stuff like this Five Alive tie-in.   What a great pairing, robots and juice!  For those of you
who may not have heard of Amstrad, the makers of the computer system that you could win with this promotion, Amstrad computers were, as far as I can tell, the equivalent of a Coleco. 
The guy behind them, Alan Sugar, is the mogul used in the British version of “The Apprentice”. 
Dimension Films have acquired the rights to do a remake.  I hope Johnny 5 has a good agent because he deserves a shot at reprising one of technology’s most loveable scamps.


Filed under Characters, Movies