When my son, Beckett, was two, I took him to see “Wall-E” – his first movie theater experience. I had a feeling it was the wrong choice for someone still in diapers, but every time he saw the trailer, he would scream, “Wall-E!” and run around in circles. Worst case, if he grew bored and fidgeted, I would take him home and let my husband and older son enjoy it.
I armed myself with a bag of Pirate Booty the size of a pillowcase. As we took our seats in the mezzanine of the mammoth theater, I noticed that the audience was comprised of almost 100% adults, whose eyeballs seemed to bore a message into my skull. And that message was: Why would you bring a baby to an apocalyptic, slow-paced satire that just happens to be animated, you butthole?
We got through the trailers and the opening credits, no problem. We made it through the sweeping shots of the galaxy and the fading images of garbage-strewn, scorched-earth landscapes. He seemed thrilled just to be there, his mouth dusted with powdered cheese. Beckett was great on airplanes and in restaurants. We were going to be fine.
But once Wall-E himself wheeled into view, my son’s eyes tripled in size and he scrambled to his feet. “WALL-EEEEEEEEEEEE!” he cried, his voice carrying in the pin-drop quiet moment of the film. “WALL-EEEEEE! IT’S ME, BECKETT!” I shushed him, glancing apologetically to the surrounding eyeballs and tried to settle him back into his seat. To him, Wall-E was a genuine, living being and nothing was going to stop him from making contact. “I GOT SOME PIRATE BOOTY, WALL-E!”
We lasted all of twelve minutes, but he didn’t seem to mind as I buckled him into his stroller. He wore the kind of beatific smile on his face ordinarily reserved for yogis reaching the highest level of nirvana, or people who have just won Olympic gold medals.
In his incredibly vivid imagination, he had “seen” Wall-E.
And it had been awesome.
Photo by Erik Ekroth