The WALL-E effect

July 12, 2008 at 1:54 pm 1 comment

I’m so happy right now. I started this blog just a couple of days after the global phenomenon that is “WALL-E,” so I really missed the boat on getting to post about it. The feature about the cutest lil’ robot in the galaxy is far and away my favorite movie of 2008 and a darkhouse candidate for Best Motion Picture of the Year at the upcoming Oscar’s (let’s on keep our fingers crossed on this one!).

Well, the fine people at Variety have finally given me some timely, albeit quirky, news about the flick.

Everyone remembers the two showtunes that WALL-E becomes enamored with, right? Well, if not, you weren’t paying attention, and I’m mad at you — after seeing two humans in “Hello, Dolly!” hold hands, the robot wants to try the act out for himself, records the song being played in the background of the movie and eventually sets his sights on the sleek and stylish EVE.

It seems that Pixar’s choice of music is having a much bigger impact on the entertainment biz than the millions of “awwww”s being sighed in movie theaters across the world as WALL-E tries to hold EVE’s hand.

“Hello, Dolly!” is one of the biggest Broadway productions ever, but it hasn’t been performed since the 1995 revision, which ran 116 shows. In recent years, there has been some talk of running the show through Broadway again.

But then “WALL-E” hit theaters.

The buzz around the “Hello, Dolly!” revamp has gone through the roof since then, and it looks like the show is now inevitably bound to happen. Not only the general theater-going public is excited about a new “Hello, Dolly” after “WALL-E” used its songs, but the show’s creator, Jerry Herman, said he was “stunned and moved” after seeing the extent to which his songs were used in the movie. Who would’ve ever guessed a kids’ film would be having this kind of impact?

Herman briefly discussed the flick’s impact on the eventual “Hello, Dolly!” re-release:

“The movie will only make it more vital, more of an event, and I think a lot of kids would come and see where those songs came from,” says the composer.

I titled this post the “The WALL-E effect,” but it might be interesting to look at the issue in a broader scope: The Pixar Effect, if you will. Has any other production company been as influential and inspirational in our generation? Are they the most influential ever? Would great movies like “Shrek,” “Polar Express” or “Ice Age” ever have been made without Pixar’s influences? Let’s take a look at how they’ve single-handedly changed the kids’ movie genre forever.

With 1995’s mega-hit “Toy Story,” Pixar completely changed the animation movie genre. Ok, they got people excited about CGI Animation and the possibilities it opens up, and that’s a pretty big deal. But “Toy Story” did more than that: it made animation studios responsible for their product — the quality of the vast majority of kids’ movies went up exponentially after that. Pixar upped the ante so much that other studios needed to revamp their entire story development programs just to keep up; No more was it OK to pump out a subpar product with bright colors.

We haven’t seen another movie that has immediately altered the future of its genre like “Toy Story” in a long time. Few in the history of cinema come to mind: “The Birth of a Nation” on war fighting scenes (I’m not saying the subject matter of the flick was good, but you can’t deny that it really set the bar for war cinematography), “Godfather” on the mobster genre, and so on.

And then there’s the ever-suspicious fact that seemingly every time a Pixar film drops, other production companies scramble to put together an eerily similar film to try and capitalize on Pixar’s success.

1. A Bug’s Life and Antz

This one’s quite a point of contention, to be honest. “Antz” actually came out over a month before “A Bug’s Life,” but it’s widely known that this particular Pixar vehicle for greatness was conceptualized first (the idea first popped up at the now-famous lunch meeting during which Pixar animators came up with ideas for “Toy Story 2,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Finding Nemo,” “The Incredibles” and “Monster’s Inc.” and “WALL-E”).

So, no one is really willing to admit that “Antz” used “A Bug’s Life” for a template, but doesn’t it seem a little odd that two CGI animation movies about ants traveling out of their humble and safe colonies in order to save their respective people would come out within a month of each other? I think it’s safe to say something fishy is going on

2. Finding Nemo and Shark Tale

I’ve never actually watched “Shark Tale,” but once again, it’s odd that two movies about fish were released within a year of each other. I think, like “Antz,” it was a ploy by another production company to siphon from the buzz surrounding a Pixar production.

3. The Incredibles and Meet the Robinsons

Do you get my point yet?

4. Ratatouille and The Tale of Despereaux

“The Tale of Despereaux” is still in production but let me fill you in: It’s a story about a curious mouse, completely fearless of all things un-mice, and he goes out into the people world to make friends and such.

Huh.

I could’ve sworn I’d seen that before.

Anyways, this wasn’t meant to accuse other production companies; people borrow and improve on others’ ideas. And that’s what I’m saying — nearly everything Pixar’s done since it was created has been imitated by its peers. There’s a reason for that:

Pixar’s just freaking awesome.

Discuss: Is Pixar the most influential production company ever?

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Entry filed under: Pixar, WALL-E. Tags: , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. courtney  |  July 13, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    A Bug’s Life and Antz were both useless, regardless of who made what first. And I don’t think Pixar is the most influential company ever…I mean, I think there have been bigger developments in movies than just CGI animation (what about non-silent movies or the birth of animated films in general?) but there’s no denying that Pixar has made kids’ movies today a lot cooler than the movies we watched 15 years ago. Then again, I really don’t know what I’m talking about.

    Reply

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