Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

Currently Showing at Cinema Steve

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Cartoon so good you'll forget it's a cartoon

WALL-E (2008)
Starring (the voices/sound effects of): Jeff Garlin, Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Fred Willard, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy, and Sigourney Weaver
Director: Andrew Stanton
Rating: Ten of Ten Stars

Centuries after humankind has abandoned Earth for a spent garbage dump, the last of a one-time army of robots that had been unleashed as part of a clean-up attempt is happily toiling away. He repairs himself when needed, and he amuses himself with his friend the cockroach and by listening to songs from his favorite musical. But, one day, something strange drops from the sky, bringing with it another robot and WALL-E's existence is changed forever... and he becomes the catalyst for the very rebirth of humanity.

"WALL-E" is a supremely cute animated film about robots finding love and humanity gaining a second chance through it. If you've seen the previews, all you know is that WALL-E is cute... the story is completely unrevealed. And it's a doozy of a story! Action! Romance! Laserbeams! Robot rebellion! Corporate greed and corpporate responsibility! This movie has something for everyone and it's a film the entire family can go see together.

I've heard a lot of talk about the film's environmental message. Yes, it's there, but it's a sensible one. This is not a Church of Al Gore propaganda piece with cute robots... it's a well-crafted, genuine piece of art. Anyone who wants to drag politics into this film is an idiot, plain and simple.

I don't want to talk too much about the story, because watching it unfold and discovering the secrets hidden within the grand spaceship Axiom is part of what makes the film such a joy. I will, however, state that it should be impossible for anyone to give this movie a bad review, because there are few films that will draw you so completely into its world and accept its rules as real as this one. Even when, late in the film, they have a cartoon person and film footage of a real person side by side did the sense of reality created by the animation and the characters in this film break. (Okay, it probably helped that it's Fred Willard featured in the film clips... if there ever was a flesh-and-blood cartoon character, it's Fred Willard.)

I friend of mine mentioned that Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar are contemplating putting this movie forward for a Best Picture Ocsar nomination. I scoffed when he did, thinking to myself it was a dippy marketing move, another sign of how increasingly irrelevant the Oscars are as a watermark for excellence in movie making. However, his praise of "WALL-E" was so high that I decided to go see for myself.

You know, I think Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar ought to consider putting "WALL-E" forward for a Best Picture nomination for this year's Academy Awards. It is an excellent film on every level, and it's one that everyone should make the time to see. (And stay for the end credits... they're very nicely done.)

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