If you are having a problem finding this movie cute, endearing and bordering on unbearably adorable, please update your emotional server to Mac operating system 295.5.6, otherwise known as “Cockatoo”.
The moment of delivery finally came. Pixar gave birth to yet one more instant classic character who rode his miniature tank treads into the hearts of adults and children across the nation. Bringing in $62 million in the opening weekend it stole the #1 spot easily (but fantastic job to Wanted for its #2 appearance at $51 million). Once again Pixar created something that parents and older siblings don’t moan and groan about having to bring their little ones to, in fact, the little ones might even be dragged there without a choice of their own. This is the creative key to their continued success, lure in the entire family.
So let’s get to the star of our show, Wall-E. He is a self-sufficient, solar powered, mini-roving trash compactor left on Earth to clean it after the humans evacuated to party in space. In the span of 700 years, Wall-E becomes incredibly lonely as most life on the planet, even artificial life, shuts down, but Wall-E refuses to quit and he fills his time with his own style of treasure hunting and antique collecting. His life takes a drastic turn though when a unmanned probe is sent back to Earth as a routine to check for signs of surviving biological life. This is the moment where we see that in its core this is one of the most classic stories ever told: Boy meets Girl, Boy loses Girl, Boy chases after Girl (there is one more step, but I have to leave something to chance, don’t I?).
Beyond the dazzling CGI animation, which by now is expected and consistently delivered by Pixar, the amazing beauty of this film is the simplicity of it. In the first thirty minutes of the show is covered in approximately four or five words of dialogue. Thoughts and emotion shine through the most minute of movements, the sound of Wall-E’s eyes focusing, the inflection in tone as he repeats one word over and over again, and the continually changing angles of his head. Wall-E reminds us of the power of silent film when we were shown emotion and meaning without being told through banal and brain coddling exposition. Throughout the rest of the film more speaking roles appear, but our two main characters run the gamut with only a handful of words between them. It’s a wondrous achievement in screenwriting and a powerful display of trust and belief on the side of the studio.
Surrounding our two main star-crossed lovers, Pixar gently tackles the idea of making a cockroach, one of the most universally hated insects on the planet, into a loyal and adorable friend, once again proving that anything in their hands is capable of becoming endearing. There is also a noticeable left-leaning bend to the story, somewhat in the vein of our last eco-friendly animated juggernaut, Happy Feet, where we get a slight glimpse of what our future might be on this planet if we don’t start to turn things around. On a more sneaky and capitalist note, you should also take note to what operating system is running everything 700 years into the future. I’m not going to give away the goat, but let’s just say we could name it “iFuture”.
Overall, this is one more grand slam for the wizards of animation at Pixar and one more DVD that I will be including in my library in the coming months. See this as soon as you can!
p.s. There is another one of Pixar’s great short films in front of Wall-E, which coincidentally, is also completely silent. Seriously, these guys are geniuses. They must eat that Smart Start cereal every morning. I’m gonna get me some…