Tuesday, July 08, 2008


I first saw the Pixar's animated short film, "Luxo Jr." at Liberty Hall in Lawrence as part of one of the "Animation Celebrations"--a collection of award-winning short animated films. I remember clearly how it amazed and charmed me. I was impressed by the studio's ability to evoke so much emotion from a pair of computer-animated swing-arm lamps and a ball. I was envious of the mastery of story telling this 90-second film revealed. In the 22 years, since, I have been generally impressed with the quality of Pixar's visual story telling. But the first trailer for Wall-E gave me the same thrill I initially felt after "Luxo." Wall-E is a metal box on treads, with what looks like a pair of R2-model periscopes on its head. In 30 seconds, they transformed this box into a character--a person with a story. The more trailers I saw and the more I heard about it, the more I was convinced that Wall-E was going to live up to the promise and spirit of the studio's breakthrough short film.

I was not disappointed. There is no shortage of praise on the Interblags about Wall-E and I affirm all of it. My favorite review/discussion is Crunchy-Con's Aristotalian interpretation and the comment war that follows (serious spoilers alert!). Interestingly, Frederica Matthews-Greene is a softly dissenting voice, and I think that she may have missed a couple key plot points. However, we do share one concern--I'm not sure kids are going to get this film. It is visually rich--full of detail and texture, but the plot is minimal, with some plot points turning on subtle visual clues, and there is relatively little dialog. David seemed to enjoy it enough but he has not talked much about it since seeing it--especially considering the amount he talked about it before seeing it. He got word on the day of its release and asked daily when we would be seeing it for the entire weekend until I finally took and afternoon off so we could go to the matinée.

Of course, it is not perfect. There is a great deal of back story that is left out. There are many implausible technology issues and I agree with one of Crunchy Cons detractors that humans would never let themselves be lulled into the state we find them 700 years hence. I wondered uncomfortably how the bariatric group would feel about this vision. But I was able to set those concerns aside by the end as we see what ultimately will happen to humanity. The film's creator is interviewed in "Christianity Today" and has some very nice points to make about what the film is trying to do.

I look forward to seeing it again and being able to pause occasionally just to enjoy the lush graphics. I bet you a dollar that Luxo's ball is in Wall-E's cave somewhere.

This has gotten me to thinking about how I would rank Pixar's output over the years. It would be something like this:

"Luxo Jr."
"Toy Story,"
"The Incredibles,"
"Finding Nemo,"
"Toy Story II"
"Knick Knack"
"Jack-Jack Attack"
"Geri's Game,"
"For the Birds"
"Monster's Inc."
"Tin Toy"
"Bugs Life,"
"Mike's New Car"
"One Man Band"
(hot pokers to the eyeballs)
"Mater and the Ghostlight"

1 comment:

Valerie said...

I hope we can go with the boys this weekend! I'm looking forward to it.

I also want to rank the Pixar films I've seen, I'll have to think about that a bit....