July 7, 2008
Pixar's newest movie Wall-E is a gem. Technically brilliant to a degree even the excellent Finding Nemo and Toy Story movies did not achieve, this nearly silent film offers more food for thought than most adult fare, and it does so with a romantic heart that is never cloying. It may be a sign of our times that machines like the waste collection robot-hero Wall-E and a space probe (her name is Eve) in search of greenery-on-Earth exhibit more genuine emotion than most human actors. Then again this duo, who populate an empty planet with little going for it, sense their need for each other (Wall-E is inspired by a battered video of Hello Dolly he has preserved among his trash-trove and watches obsessively) without a hint of vulgarity or, it goes without saying, carnality. They are literally hard-wired for connection.
As for the movie's politics, it transcends polarization while remaining decidedly pro-green, pro-life (babies abound), and pro-romantic love between opposite sexes capable of regenerating a blighted Earth. Rank consumption has never been skewered better, or with a gentler touch that bemoans how far humanity has sunk but does not succumb to self-loathing. These soft, slothful creatures are still "us" and still capable of renewal, which, opening themselves to intimacy and to, well, infants, they achieve. John Lasseter and his Pixar team have made some of the top feature films of the last 15 years, and Wall-E may be the best of them all. The score, crucial to the almost wordless atmosphere of the movie, is tremendous too.