by Lauren Sepanski
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Hello, Pixar! It’s been a while. We’ve missed you. It’s been a year since the release of Brad Bird’s Ratatouille, and it’s about time for the another John Lasseter “masterpiece.” True, the man brought us the technology to create near-perfect CG animation and used it in the past to make Toy Story, but he also brought the world Cars, which may have won him awards but is nearly everyone’s least favorite Pixar film. I say “least favorite” instead of something harsher because no one on the face of the Earth hates Pixar, and if you do, you might end up being dragged out into the street and shot (said Garfield).
The amazing story behind the studio is a classic struggle to survive. No one believed in it, but by the end of their first film (Toy Story), they proved everyone wrong and have never, ever failed. That’s right—not once. Pixar is nominated for huge awards in the animation and general film industry every single year. The best way to describe how this feels is to compare Pixar to the New England Patriots. They both have more fans than any other team combined, but one has to wonder, “Doesn’t it get boring cheering for a team that always wins?” (Okay, except for the Super Bowl… What? Shut up!) Not that I am Pixar-bashing, but people are told this studio can do no wrong, and they believe it and proceed to see their films five times in the theater, buy all the toys and not shut up about how cute it all was at the water cooler. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Pixar is the Versace of animation. Odds are, you could find a close knockoff for way less, but you feel you need it for the name on the tag.
Now that I got that out of the way, I will actually discuss the film at hand: WALL-E. This adorable little robot has been getting crap since the first screen shots appeared on the internet. “He looks like E.T.!”, “He looks like Johnny 5!” The fact of the matter is, WALL-E is a great character design and has the necessary parts so that he may show emotion through body language, because he can’t really speak. His eyes are like E.T. and Johnny 5’s because they have to be the most expressive part of his little robot body. WALL-E looks like a robot, so stop complaining.
WALL-E was sent to Earth 700 years ago, along with thousands (if not millions) of other Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth Class robots, in order to clean the endless amounts of garbage the human race had accumulated. While these robots are on Earth cleaning up our mess, the human race has been lounging on a ship in space. The whole idea is that the clean up is on a five-year plan, after which mankind will be able to return to Earth. When this obviously doesn’t pan out, humans on the ship evolve into a race of big fatties who can no longer use their legs. I know, it sounds awful, but given the circumstances, one cannot disagree this is what would actually happen. (Even though, up until this point, much of the story and imagery looks suspiciously like that of the Mike Judge film Idiocracy.)
Every so often people in space will shoot an EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) robot to Earth in search of any sign that life can once again thrive. WALL-E, a somewhat hopeless romantic, falls for EVE, but her mission intervenes when a small plant is discovered and she is taken back to the space cruise ship. Wackiness ensues as WALL-E chases the love of his life throughout the universe.
I like Pixar, but I don’t love it. I like John Lasseter, but I don’t love him. I was honestly expecting WALL-E to disappoint me as Cars did a few years ago and, much like M. Night Shyamalan, just get worse and worse and more crazy. This one saved Lasseter in my mind. The animation was beautiful. Any excuse for Pixar to animate the depths of the ocean or outer space is a fine by me. The characters are all creative and fun, and, though only robots, each had their own distinct personality. The references to nearly every space-themed film was very Family Guy, but they pulled it off well—little music samples and the main antagonist looking like HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Little things like that made WALL-E great. The first half hour was a bit of a throw back to classic cartoons in which WALL-E is alone on Earth and just being curious and clumsy, this was hands down the most enjoyable part of the film. Watching WALL-E and EVE together made me feel warm and squishy, seeing the Pixar interpretation of where mankind might go if we become too wasteful, uncaring and lazy (though it was almost unbearably preachy) made me think a little and finding out each robot’s directive is hilarious. WALL-E is my new second-favorite Pixar film, because nothing will ever take the place of Toy Story.
Lauren Sepanski is a writer and film critic in Los Angeles.
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