You may think you have a low tolerance for cute. But all your prejudices against Hello Kitty stickers, Precious Moments figurines, Anne Geddes photographs, interspecies snorgling (if you don’t know, you don’t want to) and Knut the polar bear have done nothing to steel you against the onslaught of adorability that is WALL-E.
WALL-E is the latest masterpiece from Pixar, makers of such computer-animated classics as Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. WALL-E also represents the first true collaboration between Pixar and Disney since the two companies merged and, if this film is any indication 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.
Close encounters of the romantic kind: A trash-compacting robot finds love among the rubble—and puts that robot from 2001 to shame—in Pixar’s spectacular WALL-E.
For such a family-friendly film, WALL-E begins in a rather unexpected setting—the postapocalyptic ruins of Earth. Seems that 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 in the stewardship of the WALL-E robots—an army of miniature trash compactors whose job it is to clean up the mountains of garbage left behind. Hundreds of years later after humans first jumped ship, the Earth is still a mess, and one lonely WALL-E robot remains to do the work.
Over the centuries, our solitary, duty-bound robot has developed some interesting quirks. He meticulously collects and catalogues souvenirs of the long-lost human race (Rubik’s Cubes, Zippo lighters). He’s also developed a fondness for ancient movie musicals (My Fair Lady being a favorite—check out the musical at Ash Lawn Opera this weekend). Plus, his best friend is a perky little cockroach. (These darned filmmakers—they even made the cockroaches cute!)
One day, while carrying out his endless trash-compacting duties, WALL-E spots a rocket ship that lands and deposits 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 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 floating out in space. This, of course, motivates WALL-E to bravely pursue his lady (or whatever gender) 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 looks to be the sweetest, most heartfelt love story of the 21st century.
And WALL-E is also more than just a great, sappy cartoon. The details of the impeccable design work are an absolute delight, from EVE’s clean, iPod-inspired lines to the way the annoyingly efficient first mate robot (aptly named “GO-4”) pops up his shoulder-plates like epaulets. Matching the meticulous visuals is a tight script which relies as much on silent comedies (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). 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.