>> Some people have the tendency to see politics in everything. It’s often there, yes – I’m sure you could dissect the politics of Dora the Explorer if you wanted to, and without Googling, I’m confident someone has – but it really does detract from just experiencing a work of pop art. [Not everything is politics politics politics – I recall hearing about the director of some piece of horror dreck, perhaps it was The Hills Have Eyes 2, arguing in a plea for relevance that his movie was a response to the Iraq War. Yeah, sure it was buddy.] Such is the case with the lovely Wall-E, which – while not the best thing Pixar has ever created (The Incredibles, Toy Story 2, and Ratatouille are better films – and Nemo is more beautiful) – is a lovely, excellent piece of cinema, and superior to just about anything else you’ll see this year from any studio.
But it seems like a lot of folks are getting stuck on the lecture underneath Wall-E, as opposed to just viewing it as a piece of film art that is incredibly ambitious and challenging. For my own part, I just recommend reading one review – Lileks’:
Pixar’s gift for deft, precise, economical character delineation might have hit its apogee with Eve. It’s all in the tilt of the head and the shape of the eyes – the latter defined by ten blue lines. At first they have two or three shapes; by the end they’ve adopted the shape of Wall-E’s own eyes, indicating her own progression towards awareness and empathy. She is a hard plastic cipher at the beginning; by the end, she is Princess Charming. Literally. (That’s another Disney throwback reference I haven’t seen anyone else note.)
Wall-E’s actions when he sits down, knocks his treads together and pats the seat next to him may, I suspect, have been vetted and discussed and considered at great length. (Or not.) It’s the most overtly human action he makes in the entire film – it’s not emulative of humans, it’s instinctive.
Eve’s vocalizations change here, if I recall correctly – there’s nothing in her previous utterances that reveal any emotion that’s not consistent with top-level programming. “No – no” is the moment that makes us see what Wall-E saw in her – and just to underscore the Pixar gift, the moment is understated. Prior to this she’s been an impatient professional.
Update: I noticed that more than a few online critics have taken the opportunity to rank the Pixar films now that there are enough of them to do so. Here’s my own Top Ten, FWIW – it clearly displays my Brad Bird bias:
10. Lifted (I know it’s a short)
9. A Bug’s Life
7. Toy Story
6. Finding Nemo
4. Monsters, Inc.
2. Toy Story 2
1. The Incredibles