I just want to pinch his little metal cheeks
By Devin D. O’Leary
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Cast: The voices of Jeff Garlin, Sigourney Weaver, Fred Willard
You may think you have a low tolerance for cute. But all your set-in-stone prejudices against Hello Kitty stickers, Precious Moments figurines, Anne Geddes photographs, Webkinz, interspecies snorgling (if you don’t know, you don’t want to) and Knut the polar bear cub have done nothing to steel you against the onslaught of adorability that is WALL-E. Honestly, if puppies and kittens could have babies, they’d be hideous, misshapen monstrosities compared to the unassailable cuteness of Pixar’s little robot star.
WALL-E is the creation of Pixar Animation Studios, makers of such computer-animated classics as Toy Story; Monsters, Inc.; Finding Nemo; and The Incredibles. WALL-E represents the first true collaboration between Pixar and Disney since the two companies absorbed one another. If this is any indication of what Steve Jobs’ multibillion-dollar corporation has in store for the venerable family film giant, Disney is surely poised on the edge of a brand-new Golden Age.
For such a lovable, family-friendly film, WALL-E begins in a rather unexpected setting--the post-apocalyptic ruins of Earth. Seems human beings, in a fit of consumer greed brought about by the ubiquitous Buy n Large chain, have trashed the planet and fled to the stars in a gigantic luxury liner. Earth, meanwhile, has been left under the stewardship of the WALL-E robots--an army of miniature trash compactors whose job it is to clean up mountains of terrestrial trash. Turns out, however, Buy n Large severely underestimated the amount of garbage overtaking our planet. Hundreds of years later, the Earth is still a mess, and one, lonely WALL-E robot remains to do the work.
Over the centuries, the solitary, duty-bound WALL-E has developed some interesting quirks. He meticulously collects and catalogues souvenirs of the long-lost human race (Rubik’s Cubes, Zippo lighters, squeaky toys). He’s also developed an addiction to ancient movie musicals (Hello, Dolly! being a personal favorite). Plus, his best friend is a perky little cockroach. (These consarn filmmakers--they even made the cockroaches cute!)
One day, while carrying out his never-ending trash-compacting duties, WALL-E spots something unusual. A rocket ship lands, depositing a sleek, white robot named EVE. Fueled by the romantic notions he’s absorbed from his beloved musicals, WALL-E is instantly smitten. He shyly pursues EVE, hoping just to hold her delicate, curvilinear hand. But EVE is far too driven by her classified “mission directive” to be distracted by the plucky little robot for long.
Eventually, EVE finds what she’s looking for and is compelled to bring it back to the humans still floating somewhere out in space. This, of course, motivates WALL-E to pursue his lady (?) love across the galaxy. As long as you’re ignoring your hatred of all things cute, you might as well forget all those formulaic, wedding-centric romantic comedies you’ve been watching. WALL-E is the sweetest, most heartfelt love story of the 21st century (or is that the 28th century?)
WALL-E is more than just a great cartoon: It’s a very special movie--a funny, beautiful, sci-fi-centric tearjerker that will be remembered alongside Disney classics like Bambi. The details of the film’s impeccable design work are an absolute delight--from EVE’s clean, iPod-inspired lines to the way the space liner’s annoyingly efficient first mate GO-4 pops up his shoulder-plates like epaulets. Matching the meticulous imagery is a well-polished script that relies as much on silent-film comedy (none of the robots actually “speak” per se) as on its light-touch environmental message (a moral so simple and direct, Woodsy Owl himself would approve). You can thank writer/director Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, A Bug’s Life) for both.
Mathematically speaking, it’s impossible to work out how Pixar, a company with an unblemished track record, manages to get better with every outing. But it does. And aren’t we lucky for it?
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