Saturday, July 12, 2008

WALL-E Staves off Animated Despair


I went to see WALL-E several nights ago. Before the film, as usual, we sat through a battery of coming soons, which promised a depressing run of wacky animated hijinx from Dreamworks and Disney. The former cannot make an animated film with a meaningful structure or resonant metaphor under any circumstances. Pop tedium. The Disney gang offered the stupidest movie trailer to which I have ever been subjected, which covers a great deal of ghastly material, including something about Kevin Bacon as an invisible science fiction rapist some years back. I mean really stupid. Esther Williams as a chihauhau on a Mayan set, or some dumbass thing. (Beverly Hills Chihuahau is the name of the movie. There. I've met my journalistic obligation. Dumb-ass. Chew-off-a-limb-to-get-out-of-the-trap dumb-ass.)

I was contemplating leaving the theater and surrendering my cultural passport when the feature started. Actually, a very funny short started, followed by the somber, charming, beautiful and Zeitgeisty WALL-E.

I admire Pixar's work. I think they are producing some of the most important cultural offerings of the present period, and I am not a breathless critic. I will return to the subject some other time, because I think it bears exploration. But for now, I entreat you, go see WALL-E, just to be reminded that smart sensitive people are at work in the land. The first half of the movie is as precise, economical and resonant as the most accomplished silent films, Chaplin and Keaton included. The second half is more conventional, but pays off in intertextual film references, especially to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Just go. We'll talk later.

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