Most smart filmmakers want to parade their facility with all the tools in the modern movie box. Andrew Stanton, the director and co-writer of the Pixar animated feature WALL•E, experimented with what talking pictures could plausibly do without. Talking, for example: the first third of the movie has almost no dialogue. How about depriving the two main characters — the humble, lonely trash compacter WALL•E and his space princess EVE — of emotional signifiers like a mouth, eyebrows, shoulders, elbows? Yet with all the limitations he imposed on himself and his robot stars, Stanton still connected with a huge audience. Great science-fiction love stories (there aren’t many) will do that. So will futurist adventures that evoke the splendor of the movie past. A dirt-of-the-earth guy hooking up with the ultimate ethereal gal, WALL•E and EVE could be the 29th century version of Tracy and Hepburn or of Jonah Hill and any attractive woman. It hardly matters that the movie is not quite silent when it blends art and heart as spectacularly as WALL•E does.
ALL-TIME 100 Revisited