Not only does WALL-E have a premise that’s both terribly sad and unnervingly environmentally relevant, it’s also largely about two robots who only say a half-dozen or so words to each other. It’s amazing when you think about how the audience was able to connect emotionally with the story, and that’s actually thanks in large part to the songs from the 1969 film musical Hello, Dolly! WALL-E managed to track down a VHS copy of the film, which is unlikely to still work, and repeated clips of just two songs serve as emotional shorthand at various points in the story.
The perky, upbeat “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” serves as an unnerving, tongue-in-cheek choice to open the film as we zoom in on the polluted, empty earth, and then becomes the theme song to WALL-E’s curiosity and optimism, as well as a rallying cry for his robot brothers aboard the Axiom. Meanwhile, “It Only Takes A Moment” is the theme song for WALL-E and EVE’s romantic connection. There’s also a scene from “La Vie En Rose” by Louis Armstrong, which was also part of “Hello, Dolly!”. Between lifting the moods of an old musical and Thomas Newman’s subtle, beautiful score, revisiting WALL-E as an adult really makes you think about just how much music can do in a nearly wordless film.