'WALL-E' Earns Accolade as 2008’s First Perfect Film
The man with the ingeniously imaginative story and the decisive direction to be credited with every inch of success “WALL-E” is destined to reap is none other than Andrew Stanton.
Indeed, Stanton is intimately familiar with what it takes to scribe a successful animated story of gargantuan proportions after having done so with “Finding Nemo” (nearly $865 million in worldwide box-office receipts), “Monsters, Inc.” ($525 million), “Toy Story 2” ($485 million), “A Bug’s Life” ($363 million) and “Toy Story” ($362 million).
In total, that dossier of animated success – every one of them under the Pixar umbrella using its own PhotoRealistic RenderMan computer interface for high-quality image generation – earns Stanton the plaque of most profitable and successful screenwriter for Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios.
Stanton, who also executive produced the wildly successful 2007 animated film “Ratatouille,” not only again brings on the magic with “WALL-E” but even manages to best himself in pure originality and the creation of characters you can’t help but to fall madly in love with.
While the animated Pixar film “Cars” was a paper financial success ($462 million in earnings on a $120 million production budget), at the heart of Stanton’s style is the opposite: a rock-solid story, characters who are evocatively etched into your brain and personalities who tug at your heartstrings.
Despite public outcry, WALL-E is nothing like the robot Number 5 from 1986’s “Short Circuit”. While he’s the furthest species from humanity, his personality traits epitomize everything that’d make a human perfect: he’s a hard worker, adorable, perpetually devoted and perhaps most important he has a love-craving heart of gold.
“Spending every day doing what he was made for (trash collecting) but soon discovering what he was meant for” isn’t just a cheesy line from someone with a catchy PR pen. WALL-E – whose voice was created by elite “Star Wars” sound designer Ben Burtt – goes with the flow of life to embody exactly that destiny while doing something uniquely human more of us should: He just does what feels right.
Now the “WALL-E” character Eve – who’s voiced by relative newbie Elissa Knight from previous “Cars” fame – is no gentle flower. At the mere sight of a scurry, Eve’s instinct is to blow things up. WALL-E, though, soothes her anxieties while she fills his loneliness and purpose.
After kids everywhere develop a ravenous WALL-E following and adults everywhere fall in love all over again with what it means to fall in love, we’re once again reminded that there’s hope for Hollywood. Despite some of the trash Hollywoood spits out and the financial failures it endures, here Hollywood has fashioned a profitable “product” with real-life hope for the planet we’re devouring.
Hope for our present-day world from an animated film for kids? While that may sound melodramatic, Stanton’s screenplay features front and center an unexpected “green” substory. The formidable environmental message even manages not to engage in a single lick of politics.
What’s decidedly green in “WALL-E” is primarily in its imagery – actually green imagery at times – along with the underlying concept that a single plant could colonize a dilapidated Earth all over again. And why couldn’t it? That’s how we started anyway.
While the story is about 50 percent consumed by WALL-E and 40 percent centered on Eve, the remaining balance is comprised of cameos by fun-loving and hilariously malfunctioning robot companions.
Though their names are unfortunately omitted from mention in the film, there’s a vacuum named VAQ-M, a robotic beautician named PR-T, an umbrella named BRL-A, a light named L-T, a massaging machine named HAN-S and an obsessive-compulsive cleaning character named M-O.
“WALL-E,” which will open everywhere on June 27, 2008 from Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios, is written and directed by Andrew Stanton and features voice work from Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy and Sigourney Weaver.
By ADAM FENDELMAN
© 2008 Adam Fendelman, HollywoodChicago.com
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