Jarv’s Top 10 2000-2009. Number 9: WALL-E

I had to eat a huge amount of humble pie regarding this. All summer I’d been spouting off like I had the slightest clue what I was talking about decrying the utter mediocrity of this film- predictably, I was doing it sight unseen based entirely on the fact that it looked like being Pixar by numbers and the trailers were underwhelming. Silly me, Pixar by numbers is still significantly better than most things out there, and anyway, it isn’t as simple as that.

WALL-E is comparatively easy to talk about without spoiling, as the plot is pretty simplistic stuff- it’s the future and WALL-E is the last functioning clean up robot working on the gigantic garbage tip that is Planet Earth. His life is basic, he wakes up, compacts garbage, saves anything that he finds interesting before turning himself off for the night. His Sisyphean task is interrupted by the arrival of EVE which  leads to all sorts of hijinks on a hideous Butlins in space populated by the current inhabitants of Columbus, Ohio (and I have been there, so can say that), before the  eventual successful repatriation of humanity to Mother Earth.

I have clearly omitted a lot of plot detail here, partly because I don’t want to spoil a film that I loved when I saw it fresh, and partly because it doesn’t matter to a synopsis of this film.

WALL-E is a film that not even the most cynical, cold-hearted soul could fail to love. As I’m a soft touch, I think it’s nearly flawless and find it truly, truly wonderful. It’s a superb amalgamation of outstanding design, intelligent story telling, and emotional resonance that simply reaches heights that most other animation (and certainly all other Pixar) never remotely gains. The opening of the film is much talked about, so I’m not going to go into great length, but it’s simply so good that for the first 45 minutes of the film, I didn’t notice that he hadn’t actually said anything. Through simply breathtaking design, they’d manage to give a fairly unemotional base robot real feelings and give the audience a clear window into the loneliness and boredom of his world- and all done through twitches of his eyes, or wonderfully expressive movement. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and while the rest of the film doesn’t hit this level again, this section alone should guarantee the film a place in any top 10 list.

The first half of this film is, and I’m not exaggerating, sheer poetry. His interaction with EVE is touching and amusing without being pathetic. It’s sort of sad watching this deeply lonely little soul trying to get an inanimate object to love him- whether he’s suffering electrocution through holding an umbrella in a thunderstorm, or taking her for romantic boat rides or whatever, it’s hard not to feel a genuine sense of sympathy for him. He tries hard, bless, but it’s just not to be (partly because he doesn’t really understand love regardless of how many old movies he watches, but mostly because she’s turned off- literally). EVE is also, no doubt about it, a simply superb piece of design- especially in comparison to WALL-E. The juxtaposition works superbly, as he is little and grubby and she is smooth, hi-tech and sleek. They’re a sort of robotic Lady and The Tramp. Once EVE comes back on line, they share a few truly magical moments (shooting around in space on the extinguisher leaping to mind), but nothing really as touching as the initial meeting and his forlorn attempts to take care of her.

However, the real test of this sort of film is does it bear rewatching? And I have to say it absolutely does- especially the soul-destroying climax of the film. Being a soft touch, I nearly cried first time I saw it, and Mrs. Jarv weeps like a baby every time- it’s an absolute masterclass in eliciting an emotional response from an audience.

However, if this film is as good as I say it is, why isn’t it higher up the list? 2 simple reasons: firstly, although the design of WALL-E is good (very good), it’s also pinched from Short Circuit. Seriously. Andrew Stanton (writer director) tried to make out that it wasn’t, but a brief comparison of Johnny Number 5 and WALL-E blows that out of the water. What I don’t understand, though, is why not own up to it? This is Pixar- nods to other films are not just expected but required (2001 is an obvious reference in this film). Furthermore, the design of the human characters in the film is  unsubtle, half baked and borderline impossible to tell apart. This is irritating. It’s almost as if they spent so much time on WALL-E and EVE that they forgot about the plethora of other characters. To make matters worse, I really didn’t care much for the  plight of humanity- they are not sympathetic at all being as they are basically uber-consumers parked off on mobile barcaloungers. Why are WALL-E and EVE trying so hard to help them?

Secondly, and far more tellingly, the subtext of the film is about as subtle as a sledgehammer blow to the front of the skull. Yes, we are all fat, lazy and devolving into morbid lumps of protoplasm (not to mention killing the planet), but using a mobile garbage disposal (regardless of how well designed) is so glaringly unsubtle it grates a touch. Not to mention that the tubbies all obey the instant advertisement commands provided by their personal audio visual equipment (“Try blue, it’s the new red!”).

Still, these are minor quibbles in a simply stupendous film. WALL-E is, at the end of the day, a spellbinding, emotive, gripping little film, that manages the minor miracle of eliciting sympathy for a machine.

Delightful.

Next Up- is Daisy, a film that got truly screwed by international distribution and one that everyone should see.

Until then,

Jarv.

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

76 responses to “Jarv’s Top 10 2000-2009. Number 9: WALL-E”

  1. kloipy says :

    i 100% agree with everything you wrote Jarv

  2. Jarv says :

    Cheers Brother Kloipy.

    How’s the Kloip-ling?

  3. Jarv says :

    I’m expecting a right kicking for this review.

  4. Jarv says :

    I like both Monsters Inc. and the Incredibles, but I don’t think either of them reach the emotional heights of this film. Monsters Inc is an out and out Kiddie film (nowt wrong with that), and the Incredibles is a cracking action comedy.

    Also, I don’t think that there’s anything in either of those two films as good as the first half an hour of WALL-E

    • Bartleby says :

      I never got the love for Monsters–I like it but it’s pretty standards Pixar for the most part–or the hate for Nemo.

      Whatever, either way, I think Wall-E is definitely their best film, with The Incredibles right behind. Good review Jarv.

      Nice inclusion of ‘soft touch’ not once but twice. That ought to get the perverts out in force via the search engines.

      Yesterday in the docu review I wrote about In the Realms of the Unreal, and used the terms girls with penises and Dakota Fanning in back to back sentences. Wouldn’t you know what ended up as yesterday’s search after only a couple of hours?

  5. Jarv says :

    Oh god.

    Things like that make me despair of humanity.

  6. Jarv says :

    I can’t stand Nemo. Really, really detest it.

    It does nothing for me. Ellen de Lesbian’s voice drives me mad and the whole thing bores me to tears.

    • Bartleby says :

      I think a few years ago I just stopped thinking of it as ellen’s voice and convinced myself that Jane Lynch voiced Dori.

      Otherwise, I thought it was pretty great, but remember Im going off my memory of seeing it in the theater, not the backlash later…I saw it the first week out or soemthing and maybe once since then.

      The door scene in Monsters Inc is fantastic. One of their best set pieces in any of the films.

      • Jarv says :

        I didn’t see it in the cinema and wasn’t aware of any backlash when I did see it- funnily enough, if I had known of such a thing I may have been more for it.

  7. just pillow talk says :

    I always liked The Incredibles the best. It’s just bursting with all this energy, and it just makes me feel good while watching it.

    I’ll have to watch Wall-E again since I’ve only seen it once. Perhaps then I’ll become a weeping soft touch as well.

  8. Jarv says :

    Sadly for me, the next one’s Daisy- which is a borderline chick flick.

    The use of soft touch went down so well yesterday, I thought I’d repeat it today.

  9. Bartleby says :

    It’s not like Daisy is all sunshine and rainbows…

    Even the chick flicks in Korea still have teeth…

    Now off to write that 44 Inch Chest review

  10. koutchboom says :

    Toy Story will always be Pixar’s best.

    • Jarv says :

      Toy Story is great, unquestionably. But it was also last decade.

      Anyway- I think my point still stands- Toy story doesn’t reach the same heights as WALL-E

      • koutchboom says :

        Toy Story 3-D wasn’t.

      • Jarv says :

        Nope. Doesn’t count.

        I may as well include the Nightmare before Christmas on that basis

      • koutchboom says :

        Either way it was amazing to see the movie on the big screen again. Like seriously you won’t realize it till you watch it again, but the first 20 or so minutes of the movie. Every shot, every line is iconic.

  11. koutchboom says :

    Ok I’ve been thinking about this last night. Everyone ALWAYS has to say in their reviews of this movie, how PERFECT the first 30 hour of the movie is. Like they would’ve just been happy with that first half hour and nothing else.

    NOW with Up, its all about the 5 minute montage, thats ALL everyone talks about, and why everyone says its so great. (Granted I think Wall-E has an amazing Montage as well in that first 1/2).

    Now whats going to be next for Toy Story 3? THOSE OPENING CREDITS WERE JUST SOOOO AMAZING!

    The next film, THAT TITLE CARD WAS JUST SO PERFECT!

    See were I’m going with this.

    • Jarv says :

      That’s fair enough Koutch- but it is that good in WALL-E (I’ve not seen Up).

      However, I will say, now I can spoil, that the end of WALL-E is fucking brilliant as well.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah I’m not saying one way or another in terms of quality. I loved Wall-E through and through, i was just pointing out a trend.

        Wall-E losing out score and song to Slumdog was a huge dissapointment. I love that song.

      • Jarv says :

        I know. I was a bit wary of mentioning it, but there’s really no way around it if you’re going to review this film.

      • koutchboom says :

        its just funny. Because with Wall-e at least it was a half hour. With UP its just a fucking five minute montage. Which yes is great, I just thought that there are much better animated films out this year. But the second that movie screened at Canns or where ever, it had the Oscar. Because of that montage.

  12. Jarv says :

    Pixar always gets the Oscar- even when there’s other contenders.

  13. koutchboom says :

    Aren’t Johnny Number 5 and WALL-E are both based on actual robot designs? I mean yeah to say that Johnny had no bearing on Wall-E is stupid. But they are based on actual designs.

    Its like the makers of Juno acting like they’d never heard of the Asian movie Jeni Juno and its nothing like theirs.

  14. jarv says :

    Well, cars is shit

  15. jarv says :

    That is as may be- I just thought it was a silly thing to deny when it’s obvious how similar they are.

  16. MORBIUS says :

    A ‘right kicking for this review’? From anyone in particular? Not from me anyway, one of my favorites from Pixar (The Incredibles, and UP, Toy Story). Nicely done, couldn’t agree more, well I could…

    Any hits off the ‘soft touch’ mentions. There is a Playboy Enterprises Soft Touch ll (AKA, Birds in Paradise).

  17. lord bronco says :

    Thank you-finally a good review of Wall-E. Points out it’s (debatable) flaws, but that picture gets me everytime

  18. Continentalop says :

    Good review. I never got the WALL-E or Pixar hate.

    And as for all these people who despise the second half, I always saw it as a variation of Modern Times, where this oddball comes in and upsets the clockwork flow of the space ship. Without him there throwing in the monkey wrench, humanity never would have the impetus to change (just like how Chaplin and Keaton’s shinannigans always lead people to discover what is really important or change there lives).

    • Jarv says :

      I do understand why the second half is a disappointment- I agree with you.

      However, in comparison to that spectacular first half it really isn’t as good, and there just wasn’t as much thought or effort put into the people as there was to the robots.

      I think it’s a minor quibble to be honest, but compared to some of the ridiculous shit thrown at this film (complaining about the presence of “real” actors or a real old film in it), it is one that’s reasonable.

  19. lord bronco says :

    Thank you-finally a good review of Wall-E. Points out it’s (debatable) flaws, but that picture gets me everytime.

  20. Tom_Bando says :

    *Monsters Inc is my fave of Pixar.

    * Have NOT seen this or Ratatooey. I will try to change that soon.

    *Mostly not w/ the grain on many filmic things-for example fave ’80’s sitcom is Night Court. “Bull–I Want To Be Your Love Slave–!” great stuff.

    *Jarv we wanna see your Turdman review.

    • Jarv says :

      Wall-E has got lots of little robots tom.

      No GIANT ROBOTS, and no GIANT ROBOT LIONS, though.

      • Tom_Bando says :

        Oh I get that. First half of this is worth seeing at least I know.

        I liked Nemo fine, actually. Geoffrey Rush as the aussie Pelican is kinda fun. But your Ellen tolerance level has to be up there a bit to put up w/ it, sure.

        Which was worse-second half of Turdmen or Wall-E?

      • Jarv says :

        Turdmen.

        By a long fucking way. The second half of WALL-E is still good, just not up to the level of the first half.

        Wall-E beats Turdmen like Ike Beat Tina.

  21. kloipy says :

    Jarv, I’m doing great, just adjusting to my new house. The Kloip-ling just turned 1 and is a walking. I’ll have some stuff for you guys soon when I get a free moment

  22. M. Blitz says :

    Haven’t seen this, but given the effect it has had on Jarv……Well, I can’t decide if melting a stony heart is a strike for or against, honestly! 😉 I have been meaning to see it though. Soon maybe?

    As for Finding Nemo, oh god…..that movie makes me want to stab myself repeatedly. In the head. Probably somewhere in the ear region, followed by frontal lobe. I actually was watching a youtube walk-through of the old Disney 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride (don’t ask) and apparently it’s now movie-themed. In the background of the video a small child could be heard whining repeatedly “Where’s Nemo, where’s Nemo?” in a very tiny, adorable voice. It was so harsh. Then, alas, Nemo showed up and it got even harsher….

  23. herr milflover says :

    Delightful review.

    I dont understand the hate for the second half, to me the whole movie is on the same level of enjoyability. The slapstick shenanigans are just as funny on Earth as they are in Space, and the burgeoning romance between Wall-E and EVE actually gets better as it evolves. The blobby humans are a bit lame, ironically as under developed personality wise as they are over developed physically, but I thought the Captain was cool, slowly growing out of his naiveté to get control of the Axiom back from Auto’s grasp.
    And the best quote of the whole thing is without a doubt “Foreign Contaminant”.

    In my Pixar rankings, Wall-E is about on par with Ratatouille, behind The Incredibles at #1 and Up at #2.

    The rest of them dont even rank.
    Cars is shit. Nemo literally bored me to sleep. The rest of them I never cared for, although I’ve never seen all of Monsters Inc.

    Actually, Kung Fu Panda is #3, because it doesnt feel at all like the usual fucking Dreamworks piece of shit, and it’s got some of the best action sequences of the last 5 years in any genre.

    • Jarv says :

      That’s all fair criticism. I detest Nemo and think it’s worse than Cars (If I wanted to watch Doc Hollywood, I’d watch Doc Hollywood, thanks).

      Never seen KFP- Jack Black is too annoying for me.

    • M. Blitz says :

      Nemo literally bored me to sleep.

      You were able to sleep? Despite all the incessant yapping? I’m jealous…… That movie struck me as an instructional manual for children to learn how to be as obnoxious as possible. Admittedly, I was horribly ill when I saw it and hadn’t slept in days. Never again!!

  24. Tom_Bando says :

    Actually I prefer Ice Age to Cars and Shrek. Both Ice Ages in fact. Haven’t seen the third one.

  25. Droid says :

    This is a great flick. Not my favourite Pixar but up with the best. The only Pixar I didn’t think was great is Cars.

    Ice Age = 1 is meh, 2 is garbage, 3 is meh
    Shrek = 1 is garbage apart from Donkey, 2 is utter garbage apart from Puss, 3 is unwatchable shit in every respect.
    KFP = Completely fucking overrated. It’s okay at best.

  26. Jarv says :

    Cars is crap and Nemo is worse. Aside from that, they’ve got an admirable track record.

  27. Droid says :

    I like Nemo. I find it difficult to understand what’s so wrong with it. Okay, you don’t like Degenerate, but apart from that why do you hate it?

    • Jarv says :

      It just annoys the shit out of me from start to finish. Degeneres is just part of that.

      • Droid says :

        Fair enough. I just find it bewildering that it can generate such fervent vitriol. I guess you can dislike it, but to passionately hate it? Seems like an odd target.

      • Tom_Bando says :

        He doesn’t care for Albert Brooks?? Surfer-dude Turtles??

        I really like the Incredibles too, by the way. Top-notch.

        How good/bad was Robots? never saw it-

      • Jarv says :

        Robots was utter shit. I saw it the other day for the first time.

        I also really like the Incredibles.

      • Tom_Bando says :

        Robots was shit? A Travesty. They need a dose of Johnny Sokko–

      • Jarv says :

        It’s just dull and Robin Williams is even more annoying than usual.

      • Tom_Bando says :

        Robin Williams as the Geni was fun back in ’92. But he keeps on trying to copy/top that and really—give it a rest.

      • Jarv says :

        He’s not been funny in so long- he should stick to “straight” roles. He was great in One Hour Photo and Insomnia.

      • Droid says :

        I think Williams is a terrific serious actor, but off the top of my head I can’t think of any comedic roles of his I enjoyed.

      • Droid says :

        Nope. Had a look through wiki and i don’t like any of the comic roles.

      • Tom_Bando says :

        Now Insomnia I Don’t think is so great. It has some okay parts-but I really lose it about the time stuntman 1 is chasing stuntguy Too over the logdrive there…..Pacino and Robin are both okay, ditto our friend from the Core there-but….it doesn’t grab me that much.

        I have actually far more Pacino flicks than I realized-even stuff like the Recruit turns up. Donnie Brasco is good though, I don’t think that gets enough praise or whatever. Bruno Kirby was really a fine fine actor.

      • Jarv says :

        There’s a good one for my forthcoming “underrated” series.

        Donnie Brasco.

      • Droid says :

        I really like Insomnia. I think its a great flick.

        Donnie Brasco is terrific. I’ve also seen the DC, which adds a few interesting scenes but no huge changes. The only thing about that flick is the few scenes that Depp is kinda off the mark a bit. I think there’s a couple that involve Heche. Other than that it’s great. The scene where they’re sawing through the bodies of the rival mob blokes… whince inducing.

      • Tom_Bando says :

        Yeah that whole cellar shoot-out whatever is pretty brutal. The clown who owns the club they takeover always reminds me of Randy Quaid by the way, though it’s not him.

      • Droid says :

        It’s also got a lot of good actors that pop up every now and then, like Giamatti and Tim Blake Nelson.

        Really good flick.

      • Tom_Bando says :

        Giamatti has a head-set on I remember that. He also shows up for 4 minutes in Pvt Ryan too-go figger.

      • Droid says :

        yeah, they’re both on the fbi team in miami. Brasco explains ‘forgetaboutit’ to them.

  28. Tom_Bando says :

    Good Morning Vietnam I like.

  29. Jarv says :

    Totally- GMV. Great film

    • Droid says :

      I haven’t seen it. Is that a comedic role though? I thought it was kinda serious, but he was playing a “funny” character.

      • Jarv says :

        Sort of. The radio monologues are very funny- it is a serious film though.

        A bit of both, really.

        It isn’t a Patch Adams type Williams “funny” performance though.

  30. Tom_Bando says :

    It has two guys in it that I really have admired for ages-both long gone now-JT Walsh and Bruno Kirby. You put those two in any film together–it’s going to work.

  31. ThereWolf says :

    Another one I haven’t seen. I have to be shoved towards animated toons. This review has sort of given me a shove in the right direction but I’ve never fallen head over heels for a toon. Except maybe Fantasia. And Jungle Book.

    I think it’s Wall-E’s anthropomorphic eyes that keeps me at bay…

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