Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Yesterday, I was talking to some friends of mine about their children's reaction to "WALL*E." Both the 10-year-old and the 8-year-old rated it as PIXAR's worst, alongside "Cars." Truth is, though the titular character may have the cutest, most expressive eyes in cartoonery since Puss in Boots from "Shrek," this fable of post-apocalyptic horror isn't really a kids film at all. (Exit polling revealed that a good portion of the film's attendees were adults without children.) The film's halo of humanity is just bright enough to ward off the encroaching shadows of sadness and despair that lurk in the corners of every frame. As such it's PIXAR's greatest achievement, surpassing "Toy Story I & II," "Finding Nemo" and even the company's previous highwater mark, "The Incredibles." It is the best movie of the year and, evidently, I'm not the only person who feels that way.
"Wall*E," a movie that has virtually no speaking made me cry twice -- which seldom happens to me -- but it will inevitably be relegated to the animation category at The Oscars. "Cartoons" have, for decades, been deemed unworthy of Best Picture status. Even though live-action pictures are made in just a fraction of the time it takes to painstakingly create a work of animation. (Peter Gabriel and score composer Thomas Newman oughta score an Academy Award for "Down to Earth," the great song during the end credits.)
As Brad Bird, director of "The Incredibles" and "The Iron Giant" once noted: “People think of animation only doing things where people are dancing around and doing a lot of histrionics, but animation is not a genre. And people keep saying, “The animation genre.” It’s not a genre! A Western is a genre! Animation is an art form, and it can do any genre. You know, it can do a detective film, a cowboy film, a horror film, an R-rated film or a kids’ fairy tale. But it doesn’t do one thing. And, next time I hear, “What’s it like working in the animation genre?” I’m going to punch that person!”