WALL·E ★★★★½

The Weekly Animation Challenge 2018
Week 39: Pixar
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There were a couple big reasons I shouldn'ta liked WALL-E as much as I did. Number One: adorable cockroach sidekick.  I'm in Texas y'all, a place with cockroaches big enough to have their own zipcode. Ain't nothin' cute about it. That leads into Number Two: this movie is so emotionally manipulative of a giant softy like me that I kinda wanna shoot it with my own laser cannon. Hadn't felt this played since Ben made me cry over a fucking rat.

But who can resist the eternally concerned-looking tilt of WALL-E's eyes, especially when he rubs his little hands together like Butters from South Park? Who?? Judging by the near universal acclaim this film still receives---not many of you. And as much praise as the animation rightfully gets for creating this endearing character and the marvelous world he inhabits, the real star of the film for me is Ben Burtt, the R2-D2-esque voice of WALL-E and probably the greatest sound effects artist we've ever had. It's not just Burtt's central performance but his brilliant, meticulous, richly-textured soundscape that pushes this frequently dialogue-free animated feature out of this world.

So yes, with so much capable audio-visual artistry that manages to plug in a world of leftover trash & robot artifice to real emotions conveyed with boundless heart, humor, and energy, I was taken in by it all. As for the film's moral messaging, it was also all stuff I could appreciate: No, creepy conglomerates/consumerism/pollution are all bad news. No I don't think "Florida but on a giant spaceship" sounds like a good idea. Yes, Jeff Garlin is priceless.

In some ways this whole thing felt like Pixar returning to their roots--to that first short about an animated lamp named Luxo, his offspring, and that precarious fragile spinning ball they distract themselves with--but returning to it now with all the wisdom and skill they've acquired since then. This time the intergenerational implications are a little more dire, but the inherent wonder of being alive that was present even early on is now more palpable than ever. And the universe really is so beautiful once we're able to look beyond our own trash.

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