Volume 78 / Number 7 - July 16 - 22, 2008
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Koch on Film

By Ed Koch

“Wall-E” (-)
Another animated film: another fiasco. It was certainly not my decision to see this picture but that of HS so I went along. As I have said before about this type of movie, never again. This time I mean it.

The story concerns the demise of the planet Earth after becoming toxic and polluted. Al Gore’s vision comes true: the greenhouse effect, etc. The inhabitants of Earth, living on a spaceship where they have become indolent, obese creatures, are led by a Captain (voice of Jeff Garlin). Garlin is a star on the HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm” which is light years ahead of this movie in terms of intelligence, humor and pure enjoyment.

The only working machine left on the planet is a cute little robot named Wall-E (voice of Ben Burtt). Wall-E (an acronym for Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth Class) has been cleaning up the garbage on Earth since the space vehicle left 700 years ago. Love comes to him when the spacecraft sends out probes, one of which named Eve (voice of Elissa Knight), reaches Earth. Eve stands for Extra-Terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator.

Let me cite some favorable comments about “Wall-E” made by two renowned film critics:

Joe Morgenstern wrote in his Wall Street Journal review, “This magnificent animated feature from Pixar starts on such a high plane of aspiration, and achievement, that you wonder whether the wonder can be sustained. But yes, it can.”

In his New York Times review, A.O. Scott wrote, “It is, undoubtedly, an earnest (though far from simplistic) ecological parable, but it is also a disarmingly sweet and simple love story, Chaplinesque in its emotional purity.”

Ridiculous. “This is your Captain speaking. Take cover, take cover. Don’t leave your home to see this flick. It is toxic.”

HS said: This is one film about which EIK and I have a major difference of opinion. The movie is animated, but that should not doom it. There is little or no dialogue for the first half-hour, but there are changing images on the screen which you can watch. The tale picks up as we get into the far-fetched story, but we are watching events 700 years from now, so there must be a “willing suspension of disbelief.” The film is not environmentally radical. It’s just that Earth has become one vast junk-heap, consequently abandoned by humans.

The love story between two machines with human sentiments is beautifully done, once you figure out what they are croaking. For me, the first test of a movie is: “Is it boring?” I don’t like paying to sit through a film while hoping for it to end. This movie had some slow parts but basically held my interest. “Wall-E” required craftsmanship, sophistication and ingenuity to come out so well. Think of the magnificent motion pictures we can produce, while at the same time we can’t keep our planet green and clean. To get personal, the film carries a powerful visual message for you: Do not overeat.

“Finding Amanda” (-)
I have come to the conclusion that Matthew Broderick, husband of Sarah Jessica Parker, is losing his ability to act and entertain. His performance in this worthless movie pales in comparison to that of his costar, Brittany Snow.

Taylor (Broderick), who claims he has overcome his drug use and alcoholism, is currently struggling with a gambling addiction. His wife, Lorraine (Maura Tierney), is fed up with his lies that he has left those vices behind and is about to leave him. The comedy show for which Taylor writes is going to be cancelled, and he will probably lose his job as well.

About the same time, Taylor’s 29-year-old niece, Amanda (Snow), leaves home for Las Vegas where she is a dancer/hooker. Asked by her mother to locate the young woman, Taylor finds her in a casino picking up a John and endeavors to take her to a therapeutic center, which she adamantly opposes. Taylor’s adventures in Las Vegas range from puerile to the obscene, notwithstanding an occasional humorous line. The plot had possibilities but the dialogue is awful and fails miserably. Very explicit language by Amanda explaining how she services her customers does little to remedy the emptiness of the film and, in fact, just adds to its coarseness. Avoid like a plague.

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