Less a review than a love letter…

[EDIT: Patty says I need a spoiler alert.]

There never has been and never will be anything cuter than the scene in Wall-E in which he uses a hubcap for a hat while acting out a scene from Hello Dolly.

I just had to get that out there.

Pixar, Pixar, Pixar. Last year at this time they presented us with Ratatouille, a film that made me clap with delight and tear up and throw around the word “perfect” a lot. Now they’ve given us one that incites such pure joy that if the first section—which shows nothing but a rusty little robot, his cockroach friend, and their daily routine of going through garbage—had been the whole movie, I still would have left the theater in a state of euphoria. How did they do it? How did they pack so much beauty, humor, fun, intelligence and actual, legitimate genius into the story of a naïve, lonely robot in love?

Much like Ratatouille before it, I’m hoping Wall-E will be honored as it deserves with an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, not just for the vile, condescending Best Animated Picture category. Not only is the animation itself breathtaking, but I haven’t seen a live action movie so far this year that has been so appealing and still managed to deliver a message. There is a good chance that Wall-E’s theme of the danger of our consumer-centric society and its effect on the environment might truly resonate with impressionable children who see it. But the theme never feels forced or like the filmmakers are tsk-tsking their audience. What’s happened has happened, and that’s it. Years in the future, humanity must leave the planet and hope that a force of trash-compacting robots can make it viable for life again. This should take five years. 700 years later, the people are still in space, and really have no concept of the situation their kind caused years ago or of how sad and shallow their lives are on what is basically a giant cruise ship in space. They are all fat, stagnant, and pathetic. But they are also sympathetic. This balance is a triumph of screenwriting.

The love story between adorable, sweet, clueless Wall-E and his high-tech, sleek, pretty, badass crush Eve, a probe robot seeking plant life on Earth, intertwines with the plight of humanity neatly, but in unexpected ways. I never knew where the movie was taking us next. Now that I do know, I can’t wait to see it again to really analyze how they did it. How does everything fit together so well and yet surprise at every turn? How did they make it seem so natural for two robots to bond in the way their human characters have forgotten? How do you make something that feels so complete, and so perfectly true?

The problem with genius, though, is that those of us on the outside of it will probably never figure out how it’s done.

Thank you, Pixar. Keep up the good work.


2 Responses to “Less a review than a love letter…”

  1. 1 pamplemoussejus July 3, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    the scene with the hubcap was beyond adorable. i really loved wall-e too!

  2. 2 patty July 7, 2008 at 10:13 am

    thanks for the review, brandi! i am so ready to see this movie for the third time and cry all over again. those robots melted my heart into a gooey, chocolatey fondue puddle. you should check this link out of you haven’t read it yet:


    i never thought the message was being crammed down my throat, and i think it’s interesting how those silly right-wingers have to have their say about every little thing. i think just by commenting on the movie, they’re making themselves out to be the bad buy. we can all learn something from this though: conservatives are pro-life and anti-love.

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