As corny as this certainly sounds, if you've seen Pixar's "Wall-E" (and if you haven't, why the heck not?), can you think of any movie in any genre for the last 20 years or so that had more to say about the power of love?
Well, robot love, of course, but the story of Wall-E and Eve still just grabs you faster and keeps you fully attached longer than almost any love story that I can think of (some might mention "The Notebook," but for simple entertainment value and much more, "Wall-E" just blows that away.)
And at least as important as the robo-love is the love and adoration that director Andrew Stanton clearly has for great sci-fi, which he shows in almost every frame of "Wall-E." If even a sliver of the kids who managed to sit through the quieter stretches of "Wall-E" and later grows up to seek out the classics that inspired it - most clearly "Blade Runner" and "2001: A Space Odyssey," but also "Star Wars" - then mission accomplished.
Stanton's respect for "Blade Runner," in particular, is clear from the moment we see our hero roll on to the screen and into a trashscape that I guarantee - no matter how many times you've seen the Earth destroyed in apocalyptic fashion on the big screen - will look like nothing you've ever seen in movies before (and how many times nowadays can you really say that?)
And, even better, it's in this deliriously inventive opening third or so that Stanton makes the more subtle of his points about the numbing nature of our work-a-day routine. Even with the cute jokes about the amazingly fresh Twinkie and the spork, were there any adults out there who didn't just cringe a little when Wall-E comes home and immediately pops in a video tape, then struggles to put on his rollers the next morning before he's had that first jolt of coffee? (Or, in his case of course, sun.)
But as amazingly entertaining as this dialogue-free opening stretch is, it just gets more and more charming when Eve arrives on the scene to scan for signs of life in the barren wasteland. Just about equal credit for this rather ridiculous love story working so well goes to writer/director Stanton and robot voice specialist Ben Burtt.
Kudos to Stanton for making Eve at least as likable as Wall-E (yes, I realize she's tempermental, more than a little crazy and even more insecure, but I guess that's just my type.) But Burtt - who not only voiced Wall-E but also conceived all the robot sounds (Elissa Knight provides the voice of Eve) - manages to eke more emotion out of the two simple words "Ev-a" and "Wall-E" than comes from the entire script of most of the much-lesser fare that clutters our multiplexes. (And, luckily I was seated near the front with no-one next to me, so nobody was too disturbed when I couldn't help mimicking them out loud more than few times; no, I don't think I'll ever completely grow up.)
The enchanting story of Eve and Wall-E is more than enough to sustain the flick as it gets more conventional and less subtle aboard the Axiom where the Earthlings live out their days in extreme comfort. This is where the flick lost me for a few moments before Eve and Wall-E made their simply blissful pas-de-deux through space and brought the movie back to life.
I know I've talked an awful about only the first third or so of the movie, but as with the entire "Lord of the Rings" - which I still think was at its best in the opening sequence in the Shire - that was definitely the best part. But there's more than enough to love about "Wall-E" to keep it going through and beyond the magical moment when Wall-E emerges from the trash compactor ("Star Wars" again, but it still works tremendously well) and make it easily among Pixar's best flicks to date.
Not as good as "Ratatouille" in my mind, but that's just because I put that movie on a pedestal all by itself. The bottom line: Just go see "Wall-E" and get ready to fall hard for the little robot with a huge heart.