Humanity's future is a space cruise ship

That is the message of Pixar's new film, Wall-E.

The science fiction / animation fantasy is a contemplative exercise in dystopian human futures, filled with fabulous metaphor and rich design.

Wall-E is a robot with personality, a kind of metallic Adam, and of course he meets Eve, an upgraded, sleek counterpart. His greatest desire is the universal human quest - to understand love - symbolized by the interlocking digits (humans holding hands, he eventually grasps Eve's arm, which doubles, oddly enough, as a weapon).

Humans have fled an Earth that has become a toxic, garbage dump, leaving on a cruise space ship organized by the world's mega corporation. The ship is an escape into fantasy, always a balmy Florida temperature with a swimming pool, shopping malls, and of course, robots slipping slurpy drinks into the hands of obese humans who float around on chairs, mesmerized by their television screens.

Seven hundred years into the future, humanity's five-year cruise continues. Everything is "normal"--meaning, nothing ever changes and the dullness of what the yogic scriptures called "sleep," which Emerson also called "lives of quiet desperation," remains unchanged.

That is, until Wally crashes around, resulting in people falling out of their armchairs, taking off their television blinders, and even, falling in love.

The captain rediscovers his humanity when he moves his butt out of the chair and plants his feet on the ship's floor, all to the tune of Kubrick's 2001. It is humanity reawakening, and in the classic human vs. the machine, he overcomes Otto (short for the Auto pilot) and switches him to "manual." Then he sets a course for Earth, as Wally and Eve have brought back a small plant, suggesting that it is time for humanity to 'phone home.'

Of course, like the original biblical couple, the humans once landing on Earth are to till the soil and help life flourish once more (including the mysterious plant that, according to the captain's information, will produce pizza).

Oh, and one more thing. Humans got so lazy on the ship that they stopped reading, expecting instead that they could command the books' auto-reporters to read out the text.

Sound familiar?

It is. Seven hundred years isn't too far away after all. Who would have thought Disney would have melded themes of dystopia, obesity, human destiny, and Emersonian self-reliance? Except that in the modern revisiting, it is the machines (Wall-E and Eve) that ultimately prod humans into their deepest self-remembering.