Monday, Nov. 03, 2008


Most smart filmmakers want to parade their facility with all the tools in the modern movie box. Andrew Stanton, the director and cowriter of the Pixar animated feature WALL-E, experimented with what talking pictures could plausibly do without. Talking, for example: the first third of the movie has almost no dialogue. How about depriving the two main characters — the humble, lonely trash compacter WALL-E and his space princess EVE — of emotional signifiers like a mouth, eyebrows, shoulders, elbows? Yet with all the limitations he imposed on himself and his robot stars, Stanton still connected with a huge audience. Great science-fiction love stories (there aren't many) will do that. So will futurist adventures that evoke the splendor of the movie past. A dirt-of-the-earth guy hooking up with the ultimate ethereal gal, WALL-E and EVE could be the 29th century version of Tracy and Hepburn, or Seth Rogen and any attractive woman. It hardly matters that the movie is not-quite-silent, when it blends art and heart as spectacularly as WALL-E does.