July 3, 2008

300 Words (x2) About: WALL*E

Just another swing through Saturn's rings...

I can't imagine being a member of the Pixar team. Your movies are expected to capture children's hearts, warm over the coldest critics, top $300 million domestically at the box office, win Academy Awards, cure cancer, and do my laundry. Pixar's 2008 film, WALL*E, has succeeded on the first two of those tasks. The third and fourth are a foregone conclusion, and the last two, well, we'll see.

At the very least, WALL*E is the best animated film and the best romantic comedy of the year. I expect its mention in Best Picture discussions will peak and eventually fade by January, but the fact is, we might want to set the Pixar people loose on some of the world's real problems, because all they do is make magic happen.

Our hero, WALL*E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth Class), is a lonely little robot stranded on Earth. Humans left centuries ago when our consuming ways caught up with us: waste, garbage, and a lack of natural resources made the planet uninhabitable. We now live aboard a giant spaceship, still addicted to technology and fast food. Our species has adapted and evolved, and the human body now resembles that of a walrus. Our captain has sent a probe robot, Eve, to search for signs of life on Earth. Eve finds WALL*E, who presents her with a plant as a simple sign of friendship. Her mission accomplished, Eve is called back to the ship. WALL*E stows away and finds his world turned upside down.

The animation in WALL*E shocked me for two reasons: 1.) metal is literally brought to life, and 2.) I didn't think I could be shocked by computer animation anymore. Garbage has never looked so beautiful, and WALL*E's curious excitement as he drifted into outer space (above) was not just my favorite moment of the movie, but the one that might make WALL*E my favorite Pixar movie. As with last year's installment, Ratatouille, the Pixar-animated landscapes and brilliant details are making it increasingly difficult to trust what your eyes are seeing.

Although the romance in WALL*E is both believable and touching (I can't believe I just wrote that), I wouldn't call the story entirely perfect. Somewhere aboard the spaceship I felt a little stutter in the momentum, as if the movie didn't know if it wanted to continue its love story, shift gears and focus on the humans and earth, or further explore WALL*E's character. It makes it through to a nice ending while doing all three of those, but if there is any criticism to be directed at this movie, it's in that fact: WALL*E tried to lift too heavy a load.

Part of the reason the misguided backlash against WALL*E's "green" message surprises me is that the story was written back in the early 90's, when green was a color and fluorescent bulbs were the ones used in awesome neon signs. Writer/director Andrew Stanton (also responsible for Pixar's Finding Nemo, recently named one of the best animated films of all time) wrote WALL*E simply asking this question: "What if humankind left earth and somebody left the last robot on, and it just kept doing the same futile thing forever?"

Of course, it says something about Pixar that its movies are receiving enough serious attention to be accused of influencing society in some way. For my well-spent money it was just a funny little story, but maybe that says something about me, and maybe the people offended by WALL*E (thanks to Matthew Lucas for the link) need to go take out their trash. Permanently.


  1. I don't mean to come across as lame, but all I can say that that awesome piece of writing is, "ditto."

    I love that same shot you show up there, and it is also the reason why I love the films visual style, it just knocked the wind right out of me.

    And as for that backlash, I'm just going to turn this song {http://tinyurl.com/WALL-E} up really loud and block out the naysayers. Because, they are retarded and I don't like them.

  2. I think I've been spoiled by the awesomeness that is Pixar. WALL-E mops the floor, does the dishes and washes the windows with Kung Fu Panda (a movie I liked) and yet I couldn't help feeling Pixar has done better.

    Alas, my hard drive crashed and took the rough draft of my review with it and I don't feel like starting another.

  3. Thanks for the shout out Daniel!

    I'm glad you liked "WALL-E." The far right never ceases to amaze me in their ability to be offended by everything, no matter how blatantly good and positive it may be. Heaven forbid we teach children to take care of the earth and that (gasp!) humanity may not be infallible after all.

  4. wall e is liked by children, i think thats a great achievement.

  5. I don't want to say that I copied your screenshot, Nick, but yeah, I did. It was my favorite part.

    Choosing a favorite Pixar movie is like choosing your favorite kid, Craig. As I would guess, the most recent arrival probably takes that spot every time. We'll see if WALL*E holds up in the future.

    Matthew, it just seemed like such a ridiculous target. Here you have humanitarian/arch-angel/savior for humanity Angelina Jolie playing a vicious assassin across the hallway, and they go after WALL*E?

    It definitely is, ochometheater, but it's also enjoyed by adults, maybe more so than any other Pixar movie to date. Maybe.

  6. Its all good, it was *the shot* in the film if you ask me, and any review would be blessed to be attached to such beauty.

  7. Your first paragraph is the perfect setup, haha.

  8. Can A brother get a grade or what?

  9. I should just copy from review, Nick: "If there is a more beautiful scene in a film this year, or in an animated film ever, consider me floored." And yes, the Peter Gabriel song should be in Oscar contention as well.

    Thanks, k. Unfortunately I'm having to do my own laundry as I unpack from my trip. Maybe the next Pixar movie, Up, will have the upgrade.

    It's all in the labels below each post, Beav. Not as specific, but "A's", "B's" and so on. For the record, WALL*E would have been a 97% = A.

  10. the other forgone conclussion is that i won't give a danm about a pixar film. and that i'll be the only one to feel that way. well pretty much....

    'you've got something to say/i know how it is to feel that way'

    nope it's just me....

  11. Haha, that must be the 7th Pixar certainty, glimmer. It's alright, but have none of them done anything for you? Either way, good for you for sticking to your guns.


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