With the exception of Ratatouille, I have been able to see every Pixar movie in the theater. A Bug’s Life and Finding Nemo rank in my top five movies of all time, and are part of the feel-good arsenal* of entertainment I reach for when I need any sort of pick-me-up.
Once upon a time, I would see the trailer for the next Pixar film and say, “Really? A fish movie? How can you tell a story about fish?” Or “Really? A movie about cars? That won’t hold my interest.” And then they slap me right in the face with some really good stuff a few months later. There was none of this doubt regarding Wall-e, however.
Robots? Oh goodness, yes.
I believe Josh’s words to me upon seeing the original trailer were, “Seriously, you’re going to cry the whole time.”
Wall-e opens on a desolated Earth, overrun by garbage and abandoned by its human inhabitants. Wall-e (that’s a Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth class) is the lone operating robot on the planet and he goes about his daily duties of collecting, compressing and organizing the trash that surrounds him. In the 700 hundred years since people left the ruined Earth behind, Wall-e has grown increasingly lonely. He explores as he collects, gathering interesting human elements from the mountains of trash, and watching and re-watching the 1969 version of Hello, Dolly. Daily life is interrupted when a rocket lands in Wall-e’s city and launches a exploratory probe. The probe is a zooming robot named Eve (or Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), and Wall-e takes an intense fascination with her, following her around as she scans every inch of the city. Once she finally recognizes he is not a threat and stops trying to blow him up, he introduces her to his home, Hello, Dolly, and his collection of people stuff… including his latest curious find. It’s this last discovery that gets things really rolling, eventually taking Wall-e up into space and to the humans’ present home, the Axiom.
It’s the artiest film Pixar’s produced, and contains the most globally-applicable social commentary — but not in a preachy, oh-come-on kind of way. The story is an even, sometimes melancholy ride, but never boring. And it’s interspersed with a warmth and cuteness that will make your heart ache.
Pixar is just good. They tickle every creative part of me. The technical execution (animation, lighting, color) is perfect; the character and set designs, flawless. The story they tell is always distilled into the most concise, dramatic, meaningful chunk of yum it can be. Dialog is never wasted — indeed, there’s only three words of it in the first fifteen minutes of Wall-e and it works. Some robots only say one thing, and they are extremely effective in that capacity. Motivations are on for each character.
There isn’t any fluff. Everything leads to something else, something that has to be there to make the whole thing work. Pixar recognizes storytelling as the art form it can be.
The only complaint I have with the movie was the introduction of a live-action element. I understood why it was there, but it did put a bit of a crack in the style and its suspension of belief. But it’s totally forgivable, and I still enjoyed the movie immensely. I would see it again in a heartbeat, and it will absolutely become a part of the home collection when it comes out on DVD.
Go see it in the theater if you can. It’s worth every penny.
*The Feel Good Arsenal reads as follows: Muppet Treasure Island, Lilo & Stitch, A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo… and Jurassic Park.