….and the meek shall inherit the earth. Unless you’re talking about 700 years from now, when humans have so thoughtlessly destroyed the earth with trash that it is no longer a place where life can exist other than the mechanical kind. It is this future world where robots have inherited the earth, left to roam the vast, desolate wasteland that is now nothing but soot, trash and relics of a civilization left for dead. No, this is not Terminator, this is Wall-E, the latest animated classic from Pixar Studios. Yes, the same Pixar that brought you the sunny Toy Story, the sunnier Finding Nemo and the I-need-sunglasses-it’s-so-shiny Cars. Wall-E certainly is a departure from anything Pixar has done before, but that’s not to say it’s not in keeping with Pixar’s tradition for excellence. In fact, they finally have put it all together and dared to do the impossible—made a message movie cute.
But that’s where I must veer off my course and say my piece. Just saying that word—cute—sparks it for me. I think back to the brilliant films Pixar has produced up until now. Toy Story and Toy Story 2, which was even better than the original, were both brilliant, technically and emotionally. Monsters, Inc, still my favorite Pixar of them all, had it all, humor, heart and heft. Finding Nemo had scope and vision, The Incredibles had ambition and Ratatouille had maturity. (I hated Cars, so I dismiss it. Sue me.) All in all, these films are all exceptional experiences in the theatre, especially if you have the great fortune to see them in digital projection. They are absolute treats for the senses, you marvel at the technological feats and you are smitten by the tales, the characters and the relationships. But, at the end of the day, there’s just not much more to say about any of them other than…..cute. They are cute.
But Wall-E is in its own class. Wall-E is so much more than cute. Don’t get me wrong, it is cute. But it is SO MUCH MORE. Let me put it this way….when I try to describe a film to someone and stumble over my words trying to capture it, “it’s a love story, no, it’s an adventure, no, it’s science fiction, well, it’s a character study, no, it’s a parable of our times, no, it’s a commentary on society…. it’s a comedy!” and all the while I forget to even mention it’s ANIMATED…..then you know you’ve got something unique.
I refuse to go into the details of this film, nor will I build it up, as other reviewers have done, as the best film since Citizen Kane. What I will say is this: whether you believe film can be art or not is a personal matter. But I feel this film is as close to art as a film can get. Art is supposed to wow your senses in some way, stimulate your heart, your soul, your mind, your spirit. Great art motivates you to contemplate your greater space, whether it be your body, your home, your world, or your universe. Art is about ideas and emotion. There have been a lot of films that have stirred the emotions while stimulating the mind, but this film, this polished and smartly-made animated masterpiece, is so delicate and so devoid of self-awareness that it is just its simplicity that magnifies the complexity of its layers.
One critic called this film poetry. I have to admit I couldn’t have said it better myself. Wall-E has character and story and all the elements, and, yes, it’s loads and fun and it is super-cute, but it’s everything that’s underneath the cute that matters—-everything that will stay with you if you open yourself to it.
Yes, this is just the silly film about the little robot and you may think I have lost my mind, but I dare you to go see it and not be taken in. The humans are still here and our hearts are still beating, loud and clear. See this film and yours will pound just a bit stronger.