When it comes to picking my favorite movie from Pixar, you’d probably expect me to say either The Incredibles, any of the Toy Story movies, or Up and while I love those movies just as much and are still some of my favorites, my #28 favorite movie is my favorite Pixar movie, WALL-E:
There’s just so much to love in this movie and it’s a movie that takes bold moves for Pixar giving us not just a kids movie but a smart kids movie with good messages behind it. And it’s just a fun movie as well.
The story follows a robot named WALL-E, who is designed to clean up a waste-covered Earth far in the future. He falls in love with another robot named EVE, who also has a programmed task, and follows her into outer space on an adventure that changes the destiny of both his kind and humanity. Both robots exhibit an appearance of free will and emotions similar to humans, which develop further as the film progresses.
One of the strongest highlights of the film is the fact that there’s very little dialogue in the film. The first 20 minutes of the movie have no dialogue at all but at the same time, you never get bored because you’re so invested in what Wall-E and EVE do. Even when we get to the human characters near the second act, there’s much more dialogue but not as much as you’d think. It’s not a dialogue-heavy movie but the stuff that’s going on in film keeps you invested. It’s about as much as my #1 favorite movie has but I’m not going to say what that movie is yet.
It’s amazing that Disney even let them make this movie because of all the social issues that they tackle, a lot of them were things that Disney had done in the past and Pixar is pretty much saying that all of these things are leading to what could be the downfall of the world. Is it any wonder why Disney stopped partnering up with McDonalds and went on a whole healthy food initiative?
The movie also worked well because you really fall in love with these characters. The relationship that both Wall-E & EVE have is played out so well that you really stick with these characters, even with the little dialogue they both share.
I also really liked the storyline about whether or not the world is stable enough to support life again. There’s a major plot point involving a plant that develops towards the end of the first act that becomes the main focus of the rest of the film and the captain of the ship believes that this is a sign that Earth can be livable again while the navigation has to live by strict orders to never return to Earth again no matter what and does whatever it takes to get rid of the plant. It leads into good questions about who’s right in the situation. Is the navigation right to listen to orders or is it finally time to head back to Earth after 800 years? Of course, we get the answer at the end but before then, we wonder who’s right in this situation?
The animation in this is spectacular, this is Pixar at its’ best. The space scenes in this movie, in particular, are so beautifully done.
For a movie that has very little dialogue, WALL-E manages to be a great film by putting in memorable characters, a great love story, a good message, some great action, beautiful animation, and just an overall fun adventure film.
It’s a great animated movie and Pixar’s best film to date, in my opinion, and one of my all-time favorites.
Speaking of kids movies with good messages, my #27 pick is a movie that does just that and is the perfect example of how to make a great kids movie. It’s A Boy Named Charlie Brown:
In addition to Winnie The Pooh, the Peanuts characters are the most timeless characters in animation history. Peanuts has never aged with the times, you’ve never seen them with cell phones, you’ve never seen them with Ipods, you’ve never seen them completely change their characters just to connect with the kids of today, the Peanuts have remained the same way they’ve had for decades but at the same time, that both hurts and saves the franchise. The stuff I mentioned before saves the franchise. It hurts the franchise because the comedy in some of the newer Peanuts specials are very mediocre because hearing the same jokes over and over again do get old.
Poor Charlie Brown. He can’t fly a kite, and he always loses in baseball. Having his faults projected onto a screen by Lucy doesn’t help him much either. Against the sage advice and taunting of the girls in his class, he volunteers for the class spelling bee…and wins! Next, it’s the school spelling bee. Once again, a winner! Good grief! Now the pressure is on as he is off to New York City for the televised national spelling bee. With Snoopy and Linus present for moral support, can Charlie Brown spell his way to a national championship?
So, why is A Boy Named Charlie Brown considered one of my favorite movies? A lot of it comes from the same reasons I love Wall-E, a great story, great characters, some amazing animation for the time, and just an overall great message about life.
The story works really well, it’s the classic Peanuts story structure that Charles Schultz perfected and he manages to put together a great story with some great subplots that’s in the Peanuts fashion.
The characters, do I even need to say anything about them? You all know who they are and you all know how great they are. You really feel for Charlie Brown as he’s trying to step above what everyone expects from him to actually be somebody.
The animation in this is incredible, it’s the same old fashioned Charlie Brown animation seen in the TV special only this time, blown up for the big screen and it does look impressive.
The movies also takes a lot of different artistic designs in several parts such as the opening of the film during the Star Spangled Banner…
…and Schroeder’s performance of Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata…
…and when Snoopy is skating on the ice at Rockefeller Center.
It’s an interesting approach that the filmmakers took and you can see the inspiration from Fantasia and more importantly, The Big Snooze, the Bugs Bunny cartoon in which he goes into Elmer’s dreams and starts screwing around with Elmer’s dreams. Keep in mind that the director, Bill Melendez, used to work with Bob Clampett on the Looney Tunes cartoons of the 40s before he made the jump over to Peanuts.
The music in this is well-done and the songs are nicely put together. The main song of the movie is incredibly well done, that’s Rod McKuen singing the song and he does a great job with it.
But the best thing about the movie is its’ message. Charlie Brown finally makes it to the end of the national spelling bee, he’s one of two people left and all he has to do is spell one word right in order to win. I’m not going to spoil what word it is but I’ll say that it’s a word that he should be accustomed to. He misspells it, losing the spelling bee and returning home with nobody to welcome him back leaving him depressed.
Linus comes in in the final scene of the movie to talk to Charlie Brown and try to convince him to come out into the world again and tells Charlie Brown that he may think everybody doesn’t like him anymore but then Linus says something that wakes Charlie Brown up and gets him to come outside and live his normal life again. I won’t spoil it because it’s a beautiful message about not giving up on yourself no matter what happens.
The biggest problem with kids movies nowadays is that, with the exception of Disney and Pixar, the people that make these movies don’t care about teaching lessons or leaving kids with some advice about life. All they care about is making money by throwing in stupid comedy, poop and fart jokes, characters that are by no means memorable, and just putting no effort into their productions and only making them just to make a quick buck.
A Boy Named Charlie Brown doesn’t do that, it doesn’t treat its’ audience like they’re idiots, it doesn’t throw in stupid comedy or grossout jokes to get a cheap laugh, it does nothing that the kids films of today do.
It teaches valuable lessons about life, it presents impressive animation and a lot of creativity, it has great music, a great story, it keeps these characters the same way we’ve come to see them, it’s a type of kids movie that needs to make a comeback really soon.
That’s why this movie has such a huge impact on me and is one of my favorites. A Boy Named Charlie Brown, a great movie with a lot of heart, a lot of fun, and the perfect kids film.