In WALL-E, Pixar’s best film to date, the joke is on us. The film flies in the face of all that is expected and acceptable: corporate America has destroyed earth, heroes don’t speak English, and an animated feature can pack more heart and ingenuity in 100 minutes than we’ve seen in American multiplexes this entire year so far.
The story of a robot’s lessons in love and humanity, WALL-E is a masterpiece of cinematic storytelling. The first 40 minutes feature virtually no original dialogue, relying on the kind of skillful character development only animation enables. The inspiration may be the silent film era, but Chaplin and Keaton didn’t have access to the sorts of tools Pixar embraces to bring this fictional world vividly to life. The film is a shoo-in for a Best Sound Effects Editing Oscar nomination, considering 95% of it is artificial noises (including the “dialogue” between WALL-E and his love interest, EVE).
Thanks to the talented Ben Burtt (the man behind the Star Wars and ET voices), WALL-E is given a real heart. Some are even hinting that it could be a contender for the Best Picture Oscar (making it the first animated feature since Beauty and the Beast to do so). I don’t wanna cloud acclaim for this film with premature Oscar talk, but WALL-E is the best Hollywood film I’ve seen so far this year.
Running at 100-plus minutes, it’s long for an animated feature, but never drags. If anything, the film constantly surprises. It’s political and satirical in ways other family films never dare to be. Previous Pixar releases poked fun at pop culture, whereas WALL-E goes a step further and actually criticizes it. Let’s not forget, this is a story about mankind’s destruction of our planet, through waste and pollution. Set 800 years in the future, mankind now resides in a space station, and everyone is grotesquely obese and lethargic. One corporation, oddly reminiscent of Disney and called “Buy-N-Large,” has turned the population into technology-obsessed slobs. Without spoiling much, it is up to WALL-E and EVE to change the lazy ways of humans and bring hope back to Earth. I’d follow WALL-E anywhere.