Presto, WALL·E

PrestoDoug Sweetland’s Presto, the new Pixar short that shows before Andrew Stanton’s WALL·E, is an absolute delight. As good as some of best classic Hollywood cartoons, it is brilliant, very funny and a much better piece of filmmaking than the accompanying feature. The nonstop piling of gag upon gag seems more in line with more recent DreamWorks Animation movies than to the run of the mill Pixar film (Brad Bird’s The Incredibles is a something of an exception).WALL·EFor its part, WALL·E tries very hard to be a silent comedy, as its two main robotic characters hardly speak. Stanton admits to looking to the films of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton for inspiration, which is not a bad idea; after all, Otto Messmer based the character of Felix the Cat on a close study of Chaplin films. But the film really does not, in the end, really work and seems a bit too precious. The story, an ecological fable about how the Earth has been abandoned for 700 years because of a garbage crisis, seems a rather weak thread to hang a feature film.

The film is not without its merits, especially in the design and rendering of the garbage-filled cityscapes on Earth .(Kudos to production designer Ralph Eggleston , who was art director on FernGully and The Incredibles, as well as directed the Oscar-winning Pixar short, For the Birds.) In comparison, Kung Fu Panda, is much the better film.

Author: Harvey Deneroff

Harvey Deneroff is a Los Angeles-based independent animation and film scholar specializing in labor history. He formerly taught at the Savannah College of Art and Design and was editor of Animation Magazine, Animation World Magazine, and Graiffit (published by ASIFA-Hollywood). He is the founder and past president of the Society for Animation Studies.