WALL·E

It took me an embarrassing amount of time to finally watch this. But the wait was well worth it.

I have to say: Wall-E may not be my personal favorite Pixar (that'd be Inside Out), but it is by far the best. It's the most daring and experimental of their works to date. Director Andrew Stanton (who also gave us Finding Nemo) conjure up memories of an impressive array of comedy masters. Wall-E him(her?)self channels the pathos of Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp: a plucky loner who refuses to be licked by the Establishment. The characters are like the animals in a Chuck Jones Looney Tunes short (Feed the Kitty, especially): conveying incredibly complex emotions through just a slight shift of the eyebrows or the purse of the lips. The visual-sonic minimalism (no dialogue whatsoever within the first hour, and whatever words spoken in the second half are completely irrelevant or inconsequential) is taken from Jacques Tati's French masterpieces (Mr. Hulot's Holiday, especially)

I note these influences to say that, like Tati and Chaplin and Jones, Wall-E equates artistic maturity with emotional, intellectual, and humanistic profundity. They offer ways of approaching the world that aren't easy or cop-out. They actually dare to presume that the audience (primarily kids) are sophisticated enough to care/think deeply about issues of identity, environmentalism, and technological progress (?) in the space of 90 minutes. They deal with harsh subject-matter: Basically, how human experience is becoming increasingly irrelevant because of our increased dependence upon the fruits of speedy, 21st-century laziness (the Internet and social media, junk TV, fast-food, to name a few culprits). Wall-E shows a future—perhaps not the future, but a future grounded in sound predictions. We cannot become nice, numb, and merely content with our lives; we must be self-critical, concerned truth-seekers. That means getting in tune with our emotions, which Wall-E does exceedingly well.

Wall-E makes a great double-bill with The LEGO Movie, another skillfully-made masterpiece about modern-day conformity that finds people to be more capable than today's cynic-ma gives us credit for. Wall-E is the touching and tender Charlie Chaplin to LEGO Movie's hyperactive and hellzapoppin' Arrested Development; one deals overtly with tragedy, the other with comedy, but both take smart and critical looks at a person's relationship with their money-obsessed environment.

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