Jul 17 2008
I’ve enjoyed most of what Pixar have had to offer over the years. I’ve watched the company grow as I have gone from being a child to an adult and I remember seeing the cute Pixar shorts with Luxo Jnr in the late 80’s with the bouncing lamp (they still use this lamp in their logo).
Over the years they have teamed with Disney and have produced cartoon instant classics, such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Ratatouille, but though I enjoyed them and laughed along and though I was highly impressed with their style and cartooning, none of them ever managed to reach the heights of Disney‘s The Lion King (and other earlier Disney cartoons), in my opinion, in creating a movie that truly crossed all the divides and made you forget that you were watching a ‘silly cartoon’ and just appreciate the great story, the strong emotion and characterisation that gave life to the blobs of colour on screen. Until now.
I was nervous about seeing Wall•E. The premise isn’t particularly easy to swallow. Essentially, the humans have destroyed Earth through pollution and overconsumption and in an effort to save humanity they have gone on a space voyage, leaving robots behind to clean thing up. Many years later, the humans have not returned and there is only one little robot left, Wall•E, who goes about his day tidying up and collecting trinkets and listening to show tunes from early Hollywood musicals.
An obvious set up for a movie, yes?
Well, I didn’t think so, and was dubious as to how they could make good story out of it. There’s minimal dialogue throughout as Wall•E can only make a few limited sounds and the only other main characters in it are another more modern ‘female’ robot (presumably Wall•E is a male ‘robot’) and a cockroach Wall•E keeps as a pet.
It turns out that this odd premise lends itself to some hilarious slapstick and visual comedy, it raises some very current issues such as the global warming crisis, the problems of consumerism and the dehumanisation of the masses, and it also allows for some truly moving, beautiful scenes that had this grown man, at least, wiping a bit of dust out of his eye more than once.
Notably this movie does not pump the ‘humans are ruining the world’ vibe down our throats. Unlike 2006’s Happy Feet that seemed to batter the viewer over the head with the guilt stick, Wall•E is more interested in the prospect of hope for reversing the situation. It was refreshingly light on selling the moral message, but still had a fable-like ending all the same.
From the start the comedy does not let up and this is the movie’s strongest suit. Right through to the predictable love story and onwards to the crisis points of the film the comedy is relentless and it is mostly down to the expressions of the main character. Indeed, these expressions are what make the movie so great.
With minimal dialogue every emotion, every quizzical look, every exasperated glance must be timed to perfection on the ‘faces’ of the robots and Pixar nails it. Even the more minimalist styled robot, Eve, the love interest, shows rage, frustration, love, laughter and sadness through a few subtle changed in her ‘eyes’. There is a truth in the unspoken dialogue between the two main characters that could not be revealed through words. That is the genius of the movie.
I went to see this with three other blokes and no kids. If we can do it, so can you – don’t worry about it being a cartoon, don’t worry about people looking at you oddly. This brilliant movie is well worth a few stares.