Tonight Noel and I are going to see WALL-E, a movie we've been anticipating ever since we saw the teaser trailers last year. The fact that it's turned out to be the best reviewed movie of 2008 is no surprise to us, just a confirmation of Pixar's ability to make something amazing out of an unlikely premise, a bold conception, and the best technology in the business.
We're unabashed fans of Pixar, the studio that both invented and perfected the computer-animated film. This week we co-authored an introduction to the Pixar body of work for the A.V. Club's Primer series. Rarely is it possible to witness such a string of success building upon success as Pixar has put together since the release of Toy Story in 1995. And it warms our geeky hearts that the way John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, and Brad Bird have done it is by caring far more about the timeless elements of moviemaking -- character and story -- than the high-tech bells and whistles.
There are still a few folks out there -- I hear from them both in real life and on the net -- who think animation is all kid's stuff, not worth serious consideration. It's a common example of a much more general problem: the notion that there are subjects that are just beneath attention. A.V. Club commenters chastise us for writing about Disney Channel movies or reality shows. They have some kind of division in mind between the stuff that bears thinking about and the stuff that simply does not. I don't agree. There's something of interest nearly everywhere you look, and cultural phenomena that don't happen to be aimed at your demographic don't, therefore, become unworthy of notice.
In the case of Pixar, though, the dismissal is even more misguided. These are not just good animated films or good children's films. They are great movies, the Wizard of Oz and Casablanca and Star Wars of our time. Like the greatest art, they transcend their genre and should be cherished by anyone who cares about quality and the unique, miraculous conditions that produce it.