Pixar’s old-fashioned future romance pushes the right buttons...

Bleak; experimental; boldest mainstream ’toon ever… Hmmm. The hype-machine got a bit overheated on Wall-e’s theatrical spree.

Pixar’s baby is special, but is it that radical? Sure, a rusty binman for a hero is unconventional, but he’s still of purebred Disney stock, a giant-eyed innocent fumbling loveably towards triumph.

As for the audacity of that opening... spare plotting, surreal landscape, dialogue of burbles and squeaks?
Hasn’t anyone ever seen Teletubbies? Or Pingu?

We’ll give you ‘melancholy’, though. Especially in the soulsick stretch where the titular trash-’bot keeps vigil over iPod-with-sex-appeal Eve, sent from beyond to seek out organic life.

Theirs is a classical, Chaplin-esque courtship: buffoon meets girl who’s way out of his league; girl inevitably falls for her suitor’s clownish charms; spanners are lobbed into the works; but in the end... well, no gongs for guessing.

Under the futureshock gloss, it’s still that sort of movie, albeit exquisitely done. The A-to-B romance is set off by tickly idiosyncrasies: the use of 1969’s forgotten ‘Hello Dolly!’ as soundtrack, comfort watch (on VHS!) and love manual; Wall-E and Eve’s starfield pas de deux, updating Superman: The Movie’s dreamy
night-flight without the cringey voiceover.

If the spell doesn’t break, it bends when the silicon soulmates swap derelict Earth for a bustling mothership, full of shopaholic fatties.

Echoes of Silent Running give way to runaround comedy – plus whirring plot mechanics and gentle fingerwagging.

Bit hypocritical for a merchandise-happy blockbuster (all those toy opportunities!) to warn us of the evils of overconsumption... but director Andrew Stanton and his animators dress their message to the nines, as vivid in light and detail as Finding Nemo’s seascape.

Maybe this space-trip isn’t as strange as we first thought, but it is rousingly rich.

Matthew Leyland

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