WALL-E (2008), written by Andrew Stanton and Jim Reardon, is a classic Pixar film with strong themes. Let’s analyze the screenplay.
- Draft Read: Undated
- Type: Spec
- Page Count: 95
- Reading Speed: Medium
- Setting(s): Earth, Space
- Plot Structure: Linear, Spanning multiple days
- Genre(s): Sci-Fi, Love, Adventure
- Theme(s): Capitalism, Environmentalism, Consumerism, Love
- Protagonist Change: Moderate
Continuing my readings of Pixar screenplays, I recently sat down and read WALL-E. Don’t let the relatively short word count fool you, there is a lot of world-building, so the script reads somewhere between medium and slow, and it takes time to visualize everything that’s going on.
I’ll come out and say that I think Ratatouille is the better concept (a rat who can cook? I mean c’mon, that’s brilliant). WALL-E is more straightforward and in-your-face with the themes, and like many Sci-Fi movies the dystopia is strong with this one.
I only took two notes while reading the script, while I normally take ten or so, because it was pretty straightforward. WALL-E, the little man no one thought that could, saves the day. Of course, the writers do a great job applying human emotions to machines, and machine emotions (not a great phrase, but bear with me) to humans.
There was a lot of setup. Like some scripts, there wasn’t a super clear climax. Sure you could say it was when the Captain deactivates the computer (Page 86), when WALL-E is saved (Page 91), or when WALL-E recognizes EVE (Page 93). How about Gopher, the sidekick to the most evil character, simply plummeting to his death (Page 82)? The endings video from Michael Arndt could have helped the writing team (I kid).
WALL·E is the nimble little robot who is somewhat neurotic, but in love with EVE, a more sophisticated robot. There are of course other supporting characters and most of them are well thought out.
Dialogue & Pacing
There is relatively minimal dialogue, and many of the dialogue lines are really just the characters expressing emotions through various noises, such as giggling.
The script starts somewhat slow but grows towards Act 3.
Perhaps the screenplay’s strongest element is its strong themes. What are those themes? By in large, they are standard Sci-Fi dystopian themes, with the basic message being we, as humans, are heading in the wrong direction. Of course, a script can’t do the final animation justice, but it does a great job of expressing those messages.
The other area, as partially noted above, where the writers excel is using different sounds and character movements to express simple emotions, such as fear, for a powerful effect. I wrote an article a while back titled “Correctly Using Emotions and Feelings in Screenwriting,” and this script demonstrates how to do this perfectly.
Best Part of The Script
The first few scenes do a great job of setting up Earth as a future wasteland and introducing us to Wall-E and his pet cockroach.
The Third Act and climax. Specifically page 75, when Wall-E recommits to saving the plant, onward.