Friday, January 9, 2009

Pixar pathos and box-office gold

I probably shouldn't admit that I'm kind of neutral on WALL*E, Pixar's latest animated feature about a couple of robots that rescue humanity. It scores 98 percent on my favorite film site,, and even jaded critics are deploying phrases like "entertaining and inspiring," "flat-out thrilling" and "almost heart-breakingly tender." Only a small-hearted, small-minded man would conclude his Netflix screening with the phrase, "Well, I've seen worse."

I loved Toy Story, Pixar's first computer-animated film about a lovable loser who eventually wins. But that's been 14 years ago, and every holiday season since we've seen a replicating mob of computer-animated films -- all about lovable losers who eventually win. For me, the cynical regularity of the plots and release dates of these things has become tiresome.

WALL*E isn't a bad movie. In many ways, it's pretty good -- as long as you accept that robots might experience physical attraction for each other, and that they might also possess an affinity for plants. Right. I did like the vision of a distinctly American mankind evolving into fat blobs on hovering lounge chairs, whose only interest is mindless chatter and empty calories. Take away the hovering chairs, throw in an iPhone and a Ford Explorer, and you have a portrait of America in 2009.

That's the best part about WALL*E: Under the bland syrup, a bit of bitter social commentary. But as an Oscar contender? I don't think so.


Anonymous said...


Your take on the flick is very much the same as mine


Dave Knadler said...

Great minds, Michael.

Ryan said...

It does get on my nerves that the basic plot of all these CG animated movies is basically the same.

I guess you can't blame them for jumping on the bandwagon and trying to capitalize, but I do anyway.