Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wall-E, the most romantic movie of the year.


I made a mistake of going to see the movie Wall-E all by myself and it made me miss Jim so much, I was absolutely in a puddle of tears. Already, the reviews for this movie are pronouncing it to be the best movie of the year, and possibly the best Pixar movie ever.

The problem with those pronouncements is that they are both correct.

Why is that a problem? Because you're going to go with really high expectations and that's always a let-down. So, pull your expectation in and enjoy this small movie filled with tiny, little moments that had me laughing and crying all at the same time. To call a $180 million dollar movie "intimate" might seem absurd, but in this world filled with CGI movies and CGI cartoons, where everything is possible on the screen, the only real thing that will separate a good movie from a mediocre one is the script.

The central character of Wall-E is so adorable and so sweet, it makes you realize that the tin man really does have a heart.

It's also one of the most perfectly realized silent movie characters ever put on the screen. The first 30 minutes of this film has no dialogue, which made all the early reviewers wonder if kids would sit patiently through it. At the matinee I went to, you could hear a pin drop. The kids were enchanted and mesmerized. And so was I.

This is the kind of movie magic that few filmmakers even aspire to, much less achieve. It's a love story that grabs you and holds on, and leaves you wanting more. A love story between robots? Yeah.

The background plot of the movie itself reminded me of one of those old pulp Sci Fi novels from the 50s. Wall-E is this little robot whose job it is to gather all the trash on earth, compact it into squares and stack it. All the humans have long since left. We learn all this as Wall-E makes his rounds and inadvertently triggers advertising which tells us the backstory in little doses.

Though this is an animated feature, it's a decidedly adult (as in maturely written and executed, not as in racy) film that kids are going to also love as the childlike Wall-E (who looks like a mechanical ET) races around with his pet cockroach doing his job of cleaning things up. He's the last of his kind.

He also starts picking up little objects the humans left behind, including a video tape which I will not describe here because it's central to everything -- and to tell you what it is won't help you understand how effectively it's used.

So, we follow Wall-E as he beeps and burps and plays with toys, bringing them back to his little home he's created. The sight gags are more than sight gags. They reveal character, and they're funny. By the time a new creature comes upon the scene, the Chaplin-esque Wall-E has his little metal hands wrapped firmly around your heart. And from that point on, you're hooked.

The inside jokes for film lovers are all here. There are also comments on society and ecology and consumerism and corporatism, but they only serve as background. This is a beautiful movie, and I am so happy, with all the absolutely idiotic crap that has been served up to us this year, someone decided to make a real movie.

Take a lover. Take boyfriend. Take your husband or your wife. Take the kids.

And thank the Pixar gods for this tiny, sweet, charming Best Film-worthy work of animated art.
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New article in Arts & Understanding (with amazing photos)

http://aumag.org/2017/05/10/steve-schalchlin-advocate/