Twenty-two years ago, they released Luxo Jr. and set the standard for animating the inanimate. Luxo Jr. is the desk lamp in Pixar’s logo. It’s a great logo, but in the original animation, he’s even more playful, squirmier and demonstrably young. Sure, he’s beautifully rendered, but that’s almost beside the point. It’s all about his personality.
Wall-E is the culmination of what Pixar started with Luxo. The robots in this movie, almost entirely without speech and using just their own inflexible mechanical parts (no bumper mouths and headlight eyes), are so personable that even Greg might be enchanted by them. (Or terrified. I’m not making bets either way.) There are humans here, but they’re almost reduced to a running joke.
It isn’t just the animation that makes this a great film, either. The voicework is impressive, especially considering limitations of vocabulary. There’s none of the all-too-typical basing characters on the stars who voice them. One of the voices is even provided by Macintalk, which I didn’t realize until the credits.
There are a couple of Macintosh moments that made me giggle but could annoy others. The story is going to have some people screaming that it’s too political, but it’s well within the normal bounds of science fiction extrapolation. For a film about robots, it’s very human positive. The script is far more mature than those for the Toy Story movies or for Finding Nemo. It gets harder to rely on pop culture and throwaway lines when you have so little dialog. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a very good thing. I haven’t a clue whether kids are going to like the film, but it’s perfect for adults.
And for us old Pixar fans. I’ll be getting this one on BluRay. While I’m at it, I think I’ll pick up that disk of Pixar shorts I saw recently. Now I remember why I loved them so much.