jacob mouradian’s review published on Letterboxd:
Anniversary Watch, Film 2 of 2
I went to visit my girlfriend for the extended holiday weekend as our anniversary happens to be around the same time. We both really love WALL•E (one of my all-time favorite films, which I’ve written extensively about in the past, and a film that she bought me the Blu-ray of), which parts of HELLO, DOLLY! play a significant presence in its story and character development. My GF was shocked to learn I’d never seen HD! before, so her and I — being the (musical) theatre geek and animation nerd that we are, respectively — settled on this particularly eclectic double feature.
It has to be the zillionth time I've watched this, but now having seen HELLO, DOLLY! I was focused on discerning any particular parallels between the two stories. I was kind of surprised that the arc from HD! that WALL•E zeroes in on is the romantic subplot between Crawford's Cornelius and McAndrew's Irene, because while it is the major subplot it isn't really the focus of that film. Granted, it'd be a strange choice to translate the narrative themes concerning a scheming widow to a dystopian sci-fi flick about robots, and I'm not sure how that would really work (or if it would even work).
Regardless, WALL•E's fascination/scrutinization over Cornelius and Irene's budding romance is emblematic of his entire existence: for 700 years he's been excavating the remains of humanity, and this idea of romance -- more particularly, "love at first sight" -- is a by-product of a lost era in his sphere of existence. It's a bit cynical for the filmmakers to position "love" as an outdated notion, unless they're specifically talking about the "love at first sight" concept as being a clichéd trope in modern cinema (or even a tiresome ideology to subscribe to IRL), or that genuine human connection has been drowned out in favor of immediate satisfaction via rampant consumerism.
Yet the filmmakers counter their own cynicism through WALL•E's brazen naïveté. He himself doesn't approach love from a point of pretentious hindsight, because he doesn't even know exactly what it is in the first place. Rather, he's curious about it and wants to understand it more -- like an archaeologist, he's digging up the remains of bygone eras in a better attempt to understand the present: how did these humans survive for so long, why aren't they here now, and what can we do to understand these things of the past to better prepare for the future ahead? Granted, WALL•E's aforementioned naïveté kinda keeps him from really committing to that last point as any sort of ethos, but his curiosity about the Earth's previous inhabitants is undoubtedly linked to an innocent pursuit of knowledge about our world. Even for selfish reasons, he wants to understand its purpose, which is intrinsically connected to his purpose. Can he experience these emotions? Are they accessible to him? He can certainly try, and by that way he's forging his own identity in this "world outside of Yonkers".
A directive of his own creation.