I said it right after I saw it, and I will say it again now: the best love story in recent memory takes place between two robots, and it is “Wall*E.” How can Pixar be this perfect? The first half is a great silent comedy, the second half a stirring, sweeping, beautiful romance. And there is excitement and adventure and science fiction!!! And it’s funny. The scope of the world that writer/director Andrew Stanton and the Pixar Team creates is so far beyond any expectation – the vast towers of finely compacted trash, the spacial elements aboard the spaceship. And for all this, the film’s focus remains where it should, on the heart of its character Wall*E, who we see in his daily routine of loneliness, yearning for love, for that spark. I cried even more the second time I saw it, it is just so beautiful. He meets the sleek and orbulescent Eve, and he falls in love. And from then on, he can think of nothing but being near her. He is swept away. It is rare – too rare – to see this kind of love play out on screen. It is deliberately hopeful and whimsical and happy. And I loved it.
With so many computer animated family movies coming out one after another, sequel after sequel, it is positively daring that Pixar refuses to cower to what other studios view as the writing on the wall. Their motto is to combine half-baked characters and mediocre storylines with enough pop-culture references to be cool and sly jokes for the parents to make it worth their time to endure a cuteness-fest. Not Pixar. Writer/Director Andrew Stanton abandons the pop references and goes deeper, with allusions to Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and a blatant homage to classic Hollywood musicals. Pixar films don’t have time to waste on cheap jokes, because they are building an ensemble of compelling characters, many of whom are hilarious in their own right, and they are putting together a visual look that can only be described as breath-taking. The animation is a wonder to behold, from character detail to the two totally separate, distinct, opposite worlds it creates – one decayed, one sterilized. How many movies can make you cry just by showing you a planet?
To end, I want to talk about my favorite scene. It’s the one with the two of them out in space, dancing together, she flying, he with the help of a fire extinguisher; zooming together around the ship and space and each other. There is something epic and eternal about it, and it is one of the most romantic cinematic moments in recent memory. The scene combines the film’s massive visual scope with its emotional core. In the midst of all time and space and the big “out there,” it is a scene between two people, as they fall completely in love. And by people I mean robots. This is the most delightful move of all time.