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WALL·E (2008)

walle.jpgPixar has a famously impressive track record for making animated films that are smart, entertaining and profitable, but aside from The Incredibles, I never really felt that they were trying to push the envelope on what could be done, thematically, in an animated film — instead, they seemed to be trying to produce smart, meticulously-crafted films that were the best of their genre. A few of these are genre-defining, even, but not experimental.

WALL·E, though, is where they really start to take some risks — I really think this is a bold, chancy film. The first half is essentially dialogue-free and set in an apocalyptic wasteland populated by a single lonely robot. The second half is a satire on mindless consumerism — kind of a funnier, less smug Idiocracy. And damn if they don’t manage to somehow pull the whole thing off, and somehow create a completely winning, totally accessible post-apocalyptic robot-based indie romantic comedy. About 20 minutes into WALL·E, Janelle whispered to me that she had no idea what was going on. But by the end, she was as in love with WALL·E and EVE, the two robot protagonists, as I was. That kind of sums up a lot of the appeal of the film for me — despite being a G-rated animated comedy, there is no hand-holding and no explanations. WALL·E starts you in the middle of a strange world, refuses to talk down or patronize, and trusts in its story and characters to pull you along.

This is a brilliant, funny, melancholy film. Even if it doesn’t, on first viewing, displace The Incredibles as my favourite Pixar movie (in particular, a few scenes toward the end are a little saccharine for my taste), it’s still the best movie I’ve seen so far this year. And by a fair margin, to be honest.

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