WALL-E

Rated: G
Runtime: 1 hour, 37 minutes
Directed by: Andrew Stanton


WALL-E - Poster

Before I tell you what I thought of WALL-E, it's probably best that where I stand on the other Pixar films is that I think Finding Nemo is a classic and that Cars is their weakest effort (although it's still entertaining).

We can debate on the order and why Finding Nemo is one of my all-time favorite films, but what you need to know is that with me, Pixar always has a high bar to clear and every time they either meet or exceed my expectations. Ratatouille was one of last year's most beloved films and while I've grown to respect it over repeat viewings, I don't think I'll ever truly love it like I do other Pixar films. I'll certainly never love it like WALL-E which had my heart in the first five minutes.

I can't remember a film that was so adorable and accessible yet so expertly crafted and multifaceted. You've seen the commercials and you know the cuteness of the little trash-cubing robot WALL-E. Even though he's a machine, he's got more humanity than most characters you'll see in any medium in any year. He's infinitely curious about the world around him and how he finds magic in the most mundane of objects never feels cloying but refreshingly vicarious. Through WALL-E's eyes, our planet is not trash but treasure. The only thing missing is someone to share it with.

Then, just as a VHS copy of Hello Dolly (a film which manages to be more magical in this movie than it ever did on its own) is making WALL-E feel his loneliness more acutely than ever, a robot goddess comes down from the heavens. Possibly crafted by Steve Jobs himself, EVE is sleek, beautiful, and on a mission. She's a little too quick on the draw and almost incinerates WALL-E on numerous occasions but the two eventually strike up an adorable relationship that's cut all too short when she's taken back to the mothership. WALL-E must suddenly leave the comfort of Earth so he can be with her.

Docking at the spaceship Axiom, the film meets a new level of commentary, one more satiric than the universal love story that's come before. However, Pixar once again shows its gift for witty social observation that's never cynical combined with an inspirational message that's never saccharine. But if the introduction of humanity's fate in the year 2708 is a little too jarring, the story never forgets its strongest element: the tale of WALL-E and EVE. It seems ridiculous to say that one of the best love stories of the 21st century is in a family film and between two robots, but I don't know what to tell you. It's a special kind of date movie that can renew your faith in love even if you're single. Just thinking about the interactions between WALL-E and EVE warms my heart and this isn't mentioning all the strong supporting characters who have their own personalities and quirks even if they only have a couple minutes of screen time.

Pixar has done something truly magical with WALL-E in keeping dialogue to a minimum while painting fully-realized characters with absolute economy of storytelling and stunning attention to detail. What they've conjured with their movie is only further enhanced by yet another beautiful score by brilliant composer Thomas Newman and cinematography so sublime that it will give you chills. I was agape at the scenes of WALL-E drifting through space as he hangs on to EVE's spaceship. WALL-E is no cipher yet he's completely empathetic and when he touches the cosmos, you check your fingers for stardust.

I don't know if WALL-E is Pixar's best film to date. It's undoubtedly the best film I've seen all year and after repeat viewings (which it absolutely deserves), it may very well take that number one slot among Pixar's filmography. But it doesn't really matter how you rate Pixar's films because whether you're a Pixar-devotee or a neophyte. I can only recommend that you see it as soon as you can.

Words by
Matt Goldberg
6.23.08


Rating: 9.7 out of 10