WALL·E

(2008)
With the voices of Ben Burrt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy, Sigourney Weaver
Also with Fred Willard (Live Action footage)
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Style: Computer Generated
Reviewed by JB

Mud on the Tracks     My Lord, we human beings collect a lot of stuff, don't we?

     The thing that impresses me most about the Pixar Animation Studios, aside from the quality of their films, is their tendency not to rest on past laurels. Looking back at their past four of five films we find the stories of a father fish trying to find his lost son (FINDING NEMO), a family of super heroes who are not allowed to use their powers (THE INCREDIBLES), a hot shot racing car who accidentally winds up in a sleepy backwoods town (CARS), and a rat in France who is a culinary genius (RATATOUILLE).  All four huge hits, all four having a different pace, style and theme, all four original films, all four as of yet unsequelized.  In fact, except for their first feature film TOY STORY, Pixar has not sequelized any of their seven previous original films. This in a Hollywood where even minor hits are sequelized and remade endlessly.

     WALL·E continues the Pixar tradition of originality and quality.  Wall·E, short for Waste Allocation Load-Lifter Earth-Class, is the last working cleanup robot on a trashed and abandoned Earth who falls in love with the mysterious Eve, a robot that appears one day out of a gigantic spaceship. The plot takes him from the deserted Earth to a space station where humans, now overweight and endlessly pampered by the machines and robots they have built, await news that Earth is once again inhabitable.  WALL·E is gently  preachy about the dangers of consumerism and mankind's staggering ability to generate garbage, but it is no more preachy than, say, THE INCREDIBLES was about several social, educational and political issues. Like Chaplin's MODERN TIMES, WALL·E is more interested in entertaining us.

     I chose the MODERN TIMES comparison because the first 40 minutes of the film reminded me of the silent classics of Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, but most specifically of Chaplin's film, which was a hybrid silent - talkie.  As in MODERN TIMES, the only human voices we hear for the first 40 minutes of the film come from screen - in this case electronic billboards and television screens.  The two robots, Wall-E and Eve, do have words, but little beyond saying each others names. I almost resented it when the humans were introduced and dialogue became more prevalent.  Yet throughout the film, the emphasis is still on visual comedy and reactions rather than jokes.  The dialogue is mostly perfunctory, there for exposition and backstory, while the comedy remains in the hands of the robots, as Wall·E accidentally wreaks havoc aboard the space station wherever he goes and Eve attempts to keep him out of trouble. It's good to know that some people in Hollywood still know how to create visual gags that don't have anything to with being kicked in the crotch.

     I have seen all of Pixar feature films so far  and I'm still waiting for a bad one.  I have some that I like more than others, but all have been good.  WALL·E ranks with my favorites along with TOY STORY, MONSTERS INC. and RATATOUILLE.  And THE INCREDIBLES.  And TOY STORY 24½ - JB 

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