Movies – Lessons of WALL-E For All Screenwriters

Yesterday I watched WALL-E — as slick and astonishing an animation as they come! How will PIXAR top this one off, from a technical point of view, I don’t know. (Are we still going to need any movie actors 100 years from today?)

But when I looked at it as a screenwriter, boy, there’s really nothing new under the sun. It’s all repackaging, re-purposing of old ideas and rearranging the furniture — which is not to say that any such combination of old ideas will automatically be interesting. But if you’re a writer suffocating with “writer’s block” you might want to do what the creators of WALL-E did.

Find a metaphor. For WALL-E it’s “The Little Engine That Could.” Even the trash piles in this dystopian story look like the mountains that the Little Engine had to climb every day. And, yes, WALL-E literally is an “engine”.

Then comes the best “repackaging” idea of the whole movie — its core concept of making sure a tiny little green sapling survives against all odds to allow vegetation to re-grow on earth is taken straight out of a very funny movie named “Idiocracy (2006). “I highly recommend it if you’d enjoy a very whacky, creative but scary look into the future.

And what shall we do with those scenes between the Captain of the spaceship AXIOM and the red-eyed central computer? Can you say “HAL…” and have you seen “2001: A Space Odyssey”?

So when the greatest in Hollywood are lifting off liberally from each other to come up with blockbusters why shouldn’t you do the same for some fresh story inspiration?

Quickest way to do that is to mash up film titles and see what you come up with.

How about… JAWS meets ALIENS? Swimmers are attacked by slimy aliens from outer space?

[Any SPACE TRAVEL movie you know] meets [replace with any THROW MOMA FROM THE TRAIN comedy]? A big-bad-loud-mouth-mom follows son-the-astronaut to outer space? It’s kind a STOP OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT (1992) in outer space?

There’s no end to cross-fertilizing ideas and concepts. The creators of WALL-E did it. Why shouldn’t you?

Dream but keep moving the furniture around.

If you love movies and would like to write movie and entertainment reviews like this you might want to check out the excellent power-writing guide at And here’s a good site for free movie plot and characterization ideas:

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