The word I have been using to describe WALL-E to everyone who asks is "AMAZING!" The all-caps is important, as is the exclamation point. Because calling this movie 'amazing' or 'AMAZING' or 'amazing!' just doesn't do it justice. It may also be called beautiful, smart, funny, thoughtful, sweet, or awesome. You'll get no argument from me on any of those adjectives. But I feel all those are quite well summed up by AMAZING!
So did I like the movie?
Pixar is quite often (rightly) held up as a movie studio that can do no wrong. Every single movie they have released has been critically acclaimed and commercially successful. But, in my opinion, they are coming off a couple of minor missteps. Last summer Ratatouille was widely lauded, but was film that just didn't work for me. And before that, Cars was a movie that I liked more than most but sill I regard it as a lesser work in the Pixar pantheon. The best movies Pixar has made, in my opinion, are Toy Story 2 and The Incredibles. Finding Nemo is also a film that many hold up at the top, and while I don't quite hold it that high, I certainly appreciate it as an excellent movie.
So where does WALL-E fit in with those? It doesn't. It's better.
WALL-E is one of the greatest animated movies of all time. Animations work because they allow filmmakers tell stories in broader strokes than actors can convey. Though a robot, WALL-E is one of the most human characters ever drawn. Insecure, yet brave. Hardworking and sensitive. He allows everyone to empathize with him in a way that couldn't be accomplished in a traditional film.
WALL-E is also one of the greatest science fiction films ever made. Like all great science fiction, it is a thoughtful and at times somber picture of where we (the human race) are going. It has a message, but it is not preachy. It is also surprisingly dark, yet hopeful. The movie contains many references to other great sci-fi movies such as 2001 and Star Wars (And some not-so-great. WALL-E is pretty obviously the great-grandchild of Johnny 5 from Short Circuit.) But it doesn't just crib from those films, but joins them in greatness.
WALL-E is also a great romance (WALL-E and EVE's Zero-Gee dance is astonishingly beautiful and graceful). It is a great adventure movie (I want a poster from the "Rogue Robots" sequence [you'll know it when you see it]). It has a great heroine (I kind of have a crush on EVE) and a great reluctant hero.
And one of the greatest things about the movie is that, unless you've been paying very close attention to its production, everything you think you know about the movie takes place in the first half hour. The story takes many exciting twists and turns, and I don't want to spoil any of them.
So what I really mean to say is that WALL-E is a great movie. No, a GREAT movie. An AMAZING! movie. A movie that I love and can't imagine anyone not feeling the same.