There exists a certain type of filmgoer (I know him intimately, for he is me) whose weakness can be summed up in four words: "Robots with Human Emotions." This sort of film fan grew up on movies like Short Circuit, thrilled to videos like Bjork's "All Is Full of Love," and even has been caught defending A.I. Artificial Intelligence (you take the good with the bad, people). A 30-second clip of Pixar's Wall-E could drive a man like this to tears, but for the other 99% of the population it will provoke nothing but head-shaking, for the $180 million Wall-E contains virtually no dialogue.
How will moviegoers react to a CG hero who isn't voiced by Jack Black or Will Smith — a character who can say little besides a chirping recitation of his own name? Sound designer Ben Burtt hopes they'll take a cue from decades past:
“We all thought about Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton,” Mr. Burtt said, “this energetic, sympathetic character who doesn’t say a whole lot. Most animation is very dialogue heavy. There’s dance, constant talking, punch lines. We used to wonder: How will we prepare the audience?”
While we have faith in the Pixar brain trust to solve such a problem, we hope they won't follow in the footsteps of Short Circuit 2's notorious, cut-for-TV robot hate crime. Johnny Five...dead...?
- With Wall-E, Pixar Moves to More Somber Ground [New York Times]