Saturday, June 28, 2008

Just As Everybody Says - WALL-E Is Wonderful

WALL-E (Dir. Andrew Stanton, 2008)

Everybody (well, just about everybody - the film is at 96% at Rotten Tomatoes) is raving about WALL-E and it is well deserving of the acclaim. As the latest in the line of popular sophisticated animated Pixar films it is set in 2700 and involves a lonely rusty robot left behind to clean up the Earth after pollution has deemed it unlivable many centuries previous. 

As the humans have retreated to what Buy’ N Large (think Wal-Mart) CEO (played by a non-animated Fred Willard) calls “the final fun-tiere!” on a large corporate cruise-ship space station, WALL-E (stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth) compacts old trash into cubicles and builds skyscrapers out of them. 

He collects what strikes his fancy - a Rubik’s cube, silver lighters, a dingy old hub cab that he tips like a hat while watching an ancient videotape of HELLO, DOLLY. It’s apparent up front that this machine, as well as this movie, has a big heart as he befriends a cockroach and looks longingly to the sky while replaying love song sound-bites from his before mentioned favorite movie.

When a probe named EVE (stands for Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) from the ginormous spaceship comes to Earth looking for plant-life, WALL-E is intrigued. She’s a shiny new model with a noble directive and after one of the mightiest movie meet-cutes I’ve ever seen, WALL-E is soon smitten. I really don’t want to spoil any more of the nice narrative surprises or the tons of ingenious ideas here so that’s as far as I’ll go with the plot.

A friend mentioned IDIOCRACY (Mike Judge’s failed futuristic dumbing-down of society satire) right as WALL-E began so it was hard to shake the similarities of a trashed-out Earth with remnants of non-perishable plastic products covering every square inch. 

There is no big spelled out environmental preachiness here though, the narrative is too clever for such moralizing - more fun to be had in spectacularly imagining a future where cute robots sift through the debris and help mankind get back on track. 

There are many echoes of past sci-fi classics which also involved cute and not so cute robots - the warp speed, musical queues, and sound effects of the STAR WARS movies (thanks to Academy award winning sound designer Ben Burtt who also does the voice of WALL-E) and 2001 in both the character of the evil ship’s Computer (voiced by Sigourney Weaver!) and the use of the grand “Also Sprach Zarathustra.” Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm, I WANT SOMEBODY TO EAT CHEESE WITH) does a enthused performance as the Ship’s Captain who despite his hard to move girth may find a spark of inspiration from the passionate power-activated robots who suddenly appear before him. 

In the matinee crowd full mostly of families with many little kids I sat in watching this mind bogglingly beautiful and funny movie I heard a lot of laughter of course, but there was also much crying, awe-ing and the very vivid sensation of an audience being profoundly moved. 

Score hit #9 for Pixar - in my book, or on blog, every one of their films has been better than the last and WALL-E is not only the best yet but one of the best films of the year.

  More later...


Anonymous said...

I've given it several days to digest, to ensure I'm not being hyperbolic, but I truly believe this is the best movie that Disney has ever attached its name to. And that includes the WWII-era classics of Pinocchio, Dumbo, etc, the Little Mermaid/Lion King run, and the top shelf Pixar flicks such as Finding Nemo.

It's just magical - making all the other movies out there look like snuff films fused with child pornography.

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed every single Pixar movie, would you say this one lives up to the standards of its predecessors?

Anonymous said...

I think it would be safe to say that if PIXAR shut down tomorrow ( heaven forbid) it would go down in film history as the company that created WALL-E - a film that established the gold standard of film making.