Let me start by saying that I didn't think I would like WALL*E at all. I thought the trailer showed too much "cutesy" stuff and not enough solid storyline. I still don't like the trailer, but I was wrong about the movie - it was actually one of the better films of the year so far.
Director: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Ben Burtt
WALL*E, the small garbage-compacting robot, is serving his purpose trying to clean up the Earth. Humans have long since evacuated the planet due to unlivable conditions: heaps of garbage caused by an overindulgence in consumerism and materialistic culture. So the humans took off on the Axiom, a ridiculously huge spaceship, and are cruisin' through space living the lazy life while the robots clean up the planet. Little do they know that WALL*E is actually the last one left doing his job; but it's not like they're in any hurry to get back to the planet. They float around on hover Lazyboys eating meals in milkshake form, talking to each other on transparent computer screens even though they're only six feet away. They send probes to Earth periodically to search for plant life (if they find any, it means its time to come home), so WALL*E meets EVE (a probe) and falls in love.
As Boze said after we left the theater, this film could be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. The aforementioned plot synopsis might be enough for you if you were a child, but those of us looking for a little more depth to our entertainment are definitely rewarded with what we're given. The movie is virtually a silent film for most of it, with only a few words "spoken" (more like "beeped") by the robots until they reach the humans. That means that Pixar had to rely on visual storytelling rather than dialogue to achieve the connection between WALL*E and the audience. They did a phenomenal job. Everything about the movie flowed perfectly, and the look of the film was outstanding. I can't imagine how many man-hours it takes to put something like this together.
Aside from the visual storytelling, the film had a couple of underlying themes that I thought fit seamlessly into this simple story of a robot in love. First off, as I mentioned before, the world is covered in garbage and humans were forced to vacate the Earth. Duh - this is an exaggerated warning about what could happen to us if we don't take care of this planet. There was also a nice parallel to the current political system that came up in one scene - the gist of it was that the rules of the ship were set 700 years ago, but they wouldn't allow the captain of the ship to fix a problem that he had a simple solution to. This comments on the party system that people have been complaining about for years - there are other solutions, but the Constitution doesn't specifically say that we can make changes.
WALL*E was worth your time. It'll put a smile on your face. It has all the patented "Disney moments" that we've come to expect from family-oriented films like this, but it also gives us an interesting look at a possible future if the state of the world doesn't change. The characters are likeable and the optimistic sense of wonder the movie exudes is a welcome change from decent sequels and comic book movies (in case you're getting sick of those). The Incredibles and Finding Nemo were pretty good, and WALL*E is right up there with the best Pixar films since Toy Story.
Oh, and I almost forgot. Pixar always puts those animated short films in front of the main movie, and this one was my favorite that they've done so far. It's called Presto, and it's about a magician and his rabbit. I looked for it online, but I guess they're keeping a pretty keen eye out and swatting down unapproved video uploads of it. Oh well - you'll see it in the theater if you check out the movie. If you don't, I'm sure it'll be on the DVD release in November. Until next time...