With the warm-hearted Wall-E, Pixar has made the impossible –How many flicks do you know that keep nine-year-olds, their 19-year-old siblings and 39-year-old parents content for 90 minutes?- look simple yet again. And for those keeping score, that now makes the computer animation giant an unbelievable nine for nine since Toy Story first dazzled back in ’95.
This latest triumph takes place around the year 2775. There’s no need to worry about gas prices or foreclosures. Humans have screwed things up so badly on Earth that they’re forced to evacuate and live on a massive spaceship that does everything but wipe behind them in the bathroom. Back on solid ground, robots have been working to dig people out of their self-created mess. A determined garbage-picking robot named Wall-E is the last one with functioning parts. He goes about his daily business, too, making skyscrapers out of compressed trash and hording any human frivolity (Rubik’s Cube, bubble wrap) he finds interesting back at his trailer.
Our mechanized loner doesn’t speak though. Yeah, he makes bleeps and chirps and has enough Jabbawockeez-like silent antics to be understood, but the likeable guy never actually talks like the dolls, fish and rats have in Pixar pictures past. Honestly though, you won’t really think about the absence of words. The film’s pacing and sensational visuals never hiccup enough that you’ll need to notice.
When Eve, a droid sent down from the human’s ship to seek out plant life, arrives and turns Wall-E’s heart into WD-40, things could have easily short-circuited. Mute robots that fall in love? I don’t think so, homie. But the amazing cinematic feat proves little problem for director Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo). There’s also some hefty nudging to the fact that humans are lazy and insensitive to the environment in the script. Some other studio may have come off preachy. But again, we’re talking about Pixar here. This team does smart family fun the way Derrick Rose does three-on-one fast breaks.