Thursday, July 17, 2008


(Click above to watch WALL•E & EVE cut a rug)

“Out there!” The voice is odd at first, jarring but yet still charming. It has that tone, that unmistakable energy of a classical American musical. “There’s a world outside of Yonkers!” There it is again and as images of the vast universe that we are but a tiny part of grace the screen, you can agree with unbridled musical glee that there most certainly is a world outside of Yonkers. This is the experience had in the first few moments of Pixar’s WALL•E, which if you haven’t had yet, you must. You can even stay for the rest of the film. Why not? But what is actually out there? What is this place called “Yonkers” and what is this world outside of it?

The lyrics are from the song, “Put On Your Sunday Clothes”, taken from the Jerry Herman musical, HELLO, DOLLY! Originally produced on Broadway in 1964, the show was adapted for the screen in 1969. It was directed by none other than Gene Kelly, starred Barbra Streisand, Michael Crawford and Walther Matthau (yes, Matthau sang; no, he wasn’t any good), and went on to earn seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Being the waste allocation load-lifter that he is, WALL•E happens across a videocassette copy of the film (proving that ultimately VHS will win the format war) while on the job and takes it home to add to his collection of earth stuff. HELLO, DOLLY! teaches little WALL•E about love.

Seeing as how WALL•E is the most unapologetically romantic robot I’ve ever known, I wanted to know what it was he learnt about love - to learn love through his eyes if you will - so I rented HELLO, DOLLY! and brought it home after a particularly grueling day. I’ve never been a big fan of Streisand myself (and Andrew Stanton, WALL•E’s human director, was wise to avoid using clips that included her signature vocals so as not to distract the viewer) but she certainly is a marvel to behold from the moment she makes her entrance. Streisand plays Dolly Levi, a matchmaker bent on matching her current unbelievably rich client with herself. Lucky for her, the man in question, Horace Vandergelder (Matthau), is in the marriage market. Only he’s looking for a woman to tend to his needs in the kitchen during the day and the bedroom at night. Let alone the film doesn’t age well (which does not bode well for poor WALL•E watching 700 plus years later), it treats love like a commodity, like a prize to be won and then put to good functional use. Was this the foundation of love that WALL•E based all of his ideals on?

It couldn’t be and it isn’t. “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” is sung by Crawford, as Cornelius Hackl, a man of 28 and ¾ who has never ventured out of Yonkers or even far past the store he minds for Vandergeldar. More importantly, he has never even kissed a girl. Essentially, the man hasn’t lived. He devises a plan to get him and his trusty sidekick out of Yonkers and into New York City (the world out there in question) and they won’t come home until they’ve kissed a girl. Like Hackl, WALL•E is just as isolated, alone on earth for centuries with only a cockroach for a friend. Like Hackl, WALL•E is longing for an adventure “out there”. And like Hackl, WALL•E has never kissed a girl.

HELLO, DOLLY! also teaches WALL•E about a simple human activity that he longs to experience. That activity is holding hands and the interaction on film is shared between Hackl and Irene Molloy (Marianne McAndrew) after one day and a musical exchange about falling instantly in love called “It Only Takes a Moment”. Fortunately for Stanton, this clip existed as it becomes integral to WALL•E’s story. And so Hakle and WALL•E share more in common than just loneliness. They are both hopeless romantics in pursuit of love above all. Both Hackl and WALL•E know that love can be as simple as you make it and its rewards are worth risking everything you have.

Finally, kudos to WALL•E for picking out the best parts of HELLO, DOLLY! The little bugger not only has the goods but he’s got the taste to back it up too. So follow wise WALL•E's inspiration and put on your Sunday clothes because there ain't no Monday in your Sunday clothes!

(That's the lyric ... from the song ... I'm not crazy ... watch for yourself ... click below.)

Source: Entertainment Weekly

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