July 1, 2008

THANKS, WALT:

REVIEW: of Wall-E (James Lileks, 6/30/08, The Bleat)

We could sit down and have a long talk about the company’s machinations and marketing skill and evolution into the merchandising Leviathon it’s become, but it doesn’t matter when I’m in a big dark room and the Castle appears in twilight on the screen, reflected in the imaginary water, glowing in the imaginary dusk. The semi-circle of twinkly dust forms an arch over the Castle, and your daughter says “that’s Tinkerbell. You can’t see her but that’s her.” The way that makes me feel is a hundred times greater than the way I felt watching The Wonderful World of Color at Grampa's farm, and the fargin’ movie hasn’t even begun yet. I watch about 120 movies a year, and each year one of them makes my eyes fill up again and again, and it’s always Pixar.

Sometimes it’s just open out-and-out bawltastic appeals to the Parent in you, such as Sully saying goodbye to Boo in “Monsters Inc.” Sometimes it’s an appeal to your bygone childhood, such as Jesse’s Song in “Toy Story 2” – I could do without Randy Newman for the most part (meaning, the total all complete part) but that song lays you low. Nemo – well, let’s not start. Actually not one of my top five Pixar movies (and such a time to live in, that we could have a movie like Nemo fall out of the top five) but it still hit me right here in the Dad Gland. I may like “Cars” more than many, because it had the Route 66 / American Iron vibe down cold and underplayed the regret and nostalgia so well you couldn’t help think about it. Ratataouille was everything I loved about Pixar summed up in one film – it was beautiful, funny, meticulously realized, smart, and a tidy meditation about passion, art, memory, and grannies with shotguns. “The Incredibles” was the best auto-playing videogame ever. For God’s sake, “Bug’s Life” is sharper and more engaging than the stuff other studios are pumping out years later; find me a villain like the horrid locust, or a Famous Actor Vocal Performance like Dennis Leary’s Ladybug. They just don’t fail. I’m sure they can, if they put their minds to it, but they don’t. It’s probably a simple recipe – an ungodly concatenation of talent + brilliant instincts + team spirit = Pixar.

Everyone’s written about the first 40 minutes, so I won’t go into much about that. (Except to say that you could write a 1000 word blog entry on every scene, from the horrible loneliness of the robot tucking himself in for the night to the gawdawful desolation of a row of rusty ships toppling over in the dry harbor, something that gives you a laugh that dies in your throat pretty quickly.) Everyone’s talked about Ben Burtt’s voice of the main character, but we’ve been hearing that strangled WuhAHL-Ee for a year now without thinking how it will eventually be used. Why would we? And then the moment comes, and it’s invested with all sorts of emotions you never expected. So let’s just look at one scene.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 1, 2008 5:27 PM
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