Wall-E (Rated G)
Five Stars

    First, the audience is treated to Presto, a cute little Pixar short about a very hungry bunny, reminiscent of classic Tom and Jerry mayhem. Presto is followed by the main course, WALL-E (98 minutes), a nearly dialogue-free addition to the recent glut of movies with an environmental message. This is a primarily visual feast, but the film does not suffer for it. Director Andrew Stanton, who also helmed Finding Nemo, deftly walks the line between a movie with a message and environmental preachiness. 
    The premise of the film is deceptively simple; what if all the humans left Earth, but forget to turn off the last robot before they leave? WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth class, voiced by Ben Burtt) is the only functioning robot left from the thousands who were assigned to clean up the planet. Much like the little mermaid, WALL-E collects the relics of the human world without fully understanding the purpose of his trinkets. Through close contact with the trash that humans have left behind, WALL-E develops a human personality. He is also tormented by an increasing sense of being alone in the universe. While he has made friends with an unsquishable cockroach, until he meets EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetarian Evaluator voiced by Elissa Knight) he is incomplete.{mosimage}
    When EVE is called away, he manages to follow her to the starliner Axiom, home to the remnants of the human race. While on board searching for EVE, WALL-E meets Captain McCrea (Jeff Garlin), John (John Ratzenberger) and Mary (Kathy Najimy). Our descendants have grown dependent on robotic chairs, and enjoy such delicacies as the Buy-N-Large Cupcake in a Cup. Years of space travel have weakened the bones and increased the mass of the human population, but they all seem really nice. They are pampered by their robot servants, but not rude. Apart from all the squishy consumption-obsessed humans, however, there are some robots with questionable directives — including AUTOpilot.       
    This is the first Pixar movie to integrate live actors (i.e. Fred Willard) into the film, but I didn’t really care for the effect. It looks fine, but live actors take away from the mood of the film. As expected, the early scenes on Earth display rich artistry, and never have piles of trash been depicted with such sun-kissed wind-ruffled beauty. With the fluid look perfected during Finding Nemo’s ocean scenes, the outer space scenes are unbelievable. When the action moves to the starliner, the animators do a nice job of creating diverse looks for the robot workers. The soundtrack nicely complements the whimsical atmosphere of the film, drawing heavily from extravagant musicals such as Hello, Dolly — a production that influences WALL-E on many levels. Much like Ratatouille and The Incredibles, this is a truly family film that can be enjoyed by young children as much as adults.   
    Despite its basic enjoyability, there are some caveats. First, the film’s humans are depicted as fairly homogenous, lacking much racial/ethnic diversity. Second, the happy ending seems to come too easily, without any real effort or accountability on the part of the humans (with the minor exception of the captain). Finally, the Peter Gabriel song running over the end credits is really annoying.

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