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Jon Cooke’s breakfast conversation with his parents…
Jon’s Mom: “I really want to see “Wall-E”… You know, that remake of “Short Circuit”..?”

Jon was unable to convince either of his parents that the latest entry in Pixar’s filmography, “WALL·E”, is not a remake of a sub-par 1980s popcorn flick. It’s unsurprising, as the design of the title character is a direct knockoff of Johnny-5, mixed with Charlie Dog’s “big, soulful eyes” routine for good measure. It’s not wrong to be influenced by previous creations (the rats in “Ratatouille” were obviously inspired, in both design and texture, by Jim Henson’s Rizzo the rat), but such a design flub that screams to even the most casual movie-goer, “RIP-OFF!”, should have never gotten off the ground.

I wish I could say that the instance of plagiarism was the film’s single failing, but “WALL·E” has quite a few. I’ve read fawning reviews from people who are enamored with the fact that the movie goes quite a bit with “no dialogue.” I am not certain these folks grasp the concept of “pantomime”, a regular staple of many of the best Warner cartoons. It’s a concept this film flees in terror from.

Irritating recitations of “Waaallll-eeee” and “Eeeeeevvvaaa” are abundant, as is an unfunny running gag of showcasing footage from the Fox musical, “Hello, Dolly!” (Well, if you’re going to leave behind all the swill on Earth, campy musicals is a good place to start.)

At no point in the eco-friendly storyline (Moral: don’t buy aimlessly, kids, unless it’s WALL·E merchandise!) was I drawn in to care about any of these machines. Neither of the two main characters, WALL·E and EVE, are engaging, and they have no hope to be if they’re cold CGI robots. (The animation of the morbidly obese humans is quite bland as well.) There’s something warm and inviting about most animation in just about any classic Disney animated feature, and computers are just never going to pull it off. And from what the obnoxious trailer for the upcoming “Bolt” feature from Disney (which I have no desire to see whatsoever) shows, other studios are catching up in making the coldness look more polished.

The film’s integrity is also castrated using the tried and true animated feature formulaic ending. I never think critiquing how you’d change the movie’s story is very useful (particularly when it’s as bad of a story as “WALL·E”’s), but if this film wanted to redeem itself, it would have been a groundbreaking twist had WALL·E’s memory been fried, forgetting all it (robots don’t have sexes and can’t procreate, geniuses) had done. Naturally, though, we get the usual “Everything worked out great!” ending we’ve seen far too many times.

At its best, as Michael Sporn puts it, it’s a special effects film, which will no doubt appeal to those who love the technological explosion that happened in mainstream cinema in the 1980s. The special effects in “WALL·E” are great, but they’re not impressive enough to invite a second viewing. The film isn’t horrible, and certainly deserves to be judged at a higher standard than the movies of Dreamworks and various fly-by-nite outfits. I eerily admire any film that actually evokes my mind to think, “What the hell is going on in this thing?” That quality doesn’t make it a good film, but it still isn’t a terrible one. Just one I have no desire to revisit.

It’s going back to juvenile clichés and the banal computer animation that makes me feel that Pixar will never accomplish anything beyond their first two wonderful “Toy Story” films (in spite of the really terrible animation in them). Yet the studio has legions of fans, who feel that it symbolizes the last hope for quality animation. I believe Pixar’s next film will be “Cars 2″. Yes, folks, just believe, and Lasseter will lead you to animation heaven.

Written by Thad

July 1st, 2008 at 12:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized