Incredible. Not only is WALL•E the best Pixar movie yet (an immodest claim, I realize, though I can't imagine you'd disagree), but its entire plot is devoted to freaking its audience out about consumer culture. At first, this crusade seems admirably self-destructive: It's as though a movie studio has declared war on its own merchandising. But don't get too excited. The notion that humankind will be driven off the planet because there's too much trash is a quaint, almost nostalgic take on environmentalism. (Whatever happened to global warming?) And no kid is going to turn her nose up at a WALL•E doll just because the movie is harsh on disposable goods. The creators of WALL•E are trying to get credit for the insurgency while profiting from the occupation.

But all this seems pathologically cynical when you consider the film itself, a wonderfully insane and involving love story. WALL•E is a little trash compactor charged with packing and stacking the waste that covers the face of the desolate, depopulated Earth. In the wordless introduction, we watch him wheel off to work, return home with a Rubik's Cube and other treasures from a late 20th-century mechanical nirvana, and slide in a VHS tape of his beloved Hello, Dolly!, humming along contently. But WALL•E isn't so fixated on his job that he declines to play hooky when a pearlescent white pod robot descends to Earth. Trigger-happy and shiny, EVE is the prettiest thing WALL•E has ever seen. Soon he's patting his pet beetle on the head and hitching a ride to EVE's home on Axiom, a gigantic cruise ship where all the obese, ignorant humans have retreated to reproduce in a consumerist haze while they wait for their planet to become habitable again.

There are plenty of amazing things about Pixar's execution of this material, from the filmlike detail and use of light on Earth to the sickly, nearly pastel palette on the ship. But what I loved best was the story. The mutiny of servile robots on the ship is positively Melvillesque. Then there's the weird pathos of a love that hinges not just on reciprocity but on the chance that an externally imposed "directive" could derail your courtship, or that a new circuit board could wipe out your partner's personality just when you're getting to know him. WALL•E is adorable. I'm seeing it again this weekend.

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