'Wall-E' Captures a Critic's Heart Critic Daniel Holloway loves Pixar's cute new robot. Holloway argues that Wall-E belongs on the list of greatest animated movies. He also takes a look at Wanted and Trumbo.
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'Wall-E' Captures a Critic's Heart

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'Wall-E' Captures a Critic's Heart

'Wall-E' Captures a Critic's Heart

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Last night, we said a great many things. You said I was to do the thinking for both of us.

(Soundbite of music)

PESCA: Well, I've done a lot of it since then, and it all adds up to one thing. You're getting on that plane. That plane leaves the ground and you're not on it, you'll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon - for the rest of your life.


What about us?

PESCA: We'll always have Bryant Park.

MARTIN: And I said I never leave you.

PESCA: And you never will, but I've got a job to do. Rachel, I'm no good at being noble, and it doesn't take much to see that a little radio show doesn't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that. Not now. Here's looking at you, kid.

MARTIN: Now, that's how you say goodbye in the movies. And today, I'm saying goodbye to movies with Daniel Holloway. But one more foggy talk on the runway seems in order.

DANIEL HOLLOWAY: That's from a movie?

MARTIN: It is!

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: What movie is that from?

MARTIN: I know.

PESCA: I think it was a porno...

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: A porno. Hi, Dan!

HOLLOWAY: Hi, Rachel...

PESCA: Dan, the fundamental things still apply, this time.

MARTIN: I'm so glad you could come in one more time for me. It's not going to be the last time for you, but for me.

HOLLOWAY: Why bother coming in after this?

MARTIN: Yeah, really...

PESCA: Where do you rank "Casablanca"? Where do you rank it? Is it one of your best, favorite movies of all time?

HOLLOWAY: I mean, top 10, you know.

PESCA: Yeah. Me, too.



PESCA: Ah! So good.

MARTIN: Here we are, all excited...

HOLLOWAY: I think that's pretty much universal, right?


PESCA: I think some people think it's overrated, but maybe they haven't seen it recently.

MARTIN: No, it's good. It holds...

PESCA: Could be the best screenplay ever. Anyway, also the best...

MARTIN: Is "WALL-E" going to be on the top 10 list of the best films of the universe?

HOLLOWAY: Best films of the universe? Mm, you know, when it comes time at the end of the year to make best films of the year in the universe...


HOLLOWAY: It's going to be up there.

MARTIN: Really?

HOLLOWAY: Yep. I am like unashamedly in love with this movie.

MARTIN: Interesting!

HOLLOWAY: I feel about this movie the way I feel about Rachel.

PESCA: Ooh, it all comes out now.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: The last day, the truth gets out.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: You think that I'm a strange, charming, small robot.


MARTIN: That's what you think of me.

HOLLOWAY: Yeah, it's just like that.

MARTIN: Interesting.

HOLLOWAY: I think of you as a cross between E.T. and R2-D2.



MARTIN: So, who is this little robot? Why is he so appealing?

HOLLOWAY: This little robot, his name is WALL-E, and he is a trash-compacting robot. He's the last survivor of planet Earth 700 years after we all load up into some spaceships owned by a company that's a dead ringer for Wal-Mart, and fly off into space, because we've ruined the planet. And 700 years pass, and you know, a robot gets lonely.


HOLLOWAY: And another robot comes by, and he falls in love.

MARTIN: OK. Well, let's get to a little piece of this so we can get a sense of this love story. Here's a short scene in which, apparently, this probe droid sounds really sad.

(Soundbite of movie "WALL-E")

Unidentified Announcer: Twenty seconds to self-destruct.

(Soundbite of music)


(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Announcer: Ten seconds to self-destruct.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Announcer: Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two...

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. BURTT: (As WALL-E) No, no.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. BURTT: (As WALL-E) Wah.

(Soundbite of laughter)



PESCA: Good sound (unintelligible).

MARTIN: I have no idea what's going on.

PESCA: This is an animated movie, and I'm listening to a - this is about the best sound I've ever heard from a movie.

HOLLOWAY: It's pretty incredible.

MARTIN: So, is this being hailed as taking Pixar as it hasn't been before, in terms of animation?

HOLLOWAY: I mean, Pixar - in terms visually, Pixar steps up its game every year, and that's to be expected. The technology gets a little bit better, you know, as time goes by. And the movie is going to look a little better than the one that comes before. And their movies have a really good track record of being critically acclaimed. They're always well-written films.

This one just does everything that the best Pixar movies does, but does it a little better, and is a lot more adventurous. The first 30 minutes or so, the film are near-silent. You know, any sound of that - I start thinking about the "Dogma" movies, because any sound that occurs is occurring naturally in the film. And because your robot doesn't have anyone to talk to, and doesn't really have a large vocabulary, there's not a lot happening.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HOLLOWAY: And it's a kid's movie, and yet it still works on that level, too, which, I think, is incredible that they were able to pull this off.

PESCA: Pixar's amazing. They've made - this is their ninth movie, ever. The worst performing movie was "A Bug's Life," and that made 350 million dollars worldwide.

HOLLOWAY: Pocket change.

PESCA: Yeah, that was in '98. Add them altogether, they've never had - not only have they never had not a hit, they've never had one of the biggest hits of the year. And when you go down the list, "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles," "Ratatouille," both "Toy Stories," "Cars," "A Bugs Life" and "Monsters, Inc.," it's - you know, they've got to come up - they've got to crap out some time, but not with this one. I don't know how long they can continue their winning streak. But the director of this movie, this was the "Finding Nemo" guy?

HOLLOWAY: Yes, this was the director of "Finding Nemo." And despite all the sort of - you know, the adventurous little things that are done in the film. This movie probably skews younger than any film that they've done since, "Finding Nemo." You know, "The Incredibles," and "Ratatouille," kind of, you know, go little bit older in the kids age group. This one plays for younger kids, you know. WALL-E's cute, and you know, his friend Eve is cute. And everything is, you know, kind of shiny and robot-y and...

MARTIN: You're grown up and you liked it.

HOLLOWAY: And I'm a grown-up and I liked it.

PESCA: Well, my favorite Pixar movie - I like the Brad Bird movies the best.


PESCA: And "The Incredibles" was my favorite. I felt it had the - an underlining message that - a philosophy, more than a message.


PESCA: Does this have that?

HOLLOWAY: And it - this is a - this movie comes in the tradition of post-apocalyptic sci-fi films like - you know, we just saw the end of "Battlestar Galactica," for this season recently, or "Planet of the Apes," or any number of these films.

MARTIN: That Will Smith movie I just saw?


MARTIN: Ah, what's it called?

HOLLOWAY: The Hitchcock?

MARTIN: "I, Robot."

HOLLOWAY: "I am Legend."

MARTIN: Yeah, anyway.

HOLLOWAY: It's - I think that's where the sort of substance of the thing is - It's - I mean, you're looking at Earth having been turned into a wasteland. And you're also looking at humanity as - people don't walk anymore, when we find people. When WALL-E's finally, like, reunited with what's left of humanity. People are all running around this ship in little automated chairs, and there's a speaker on the ship that tells them when it's time to eat. And a lot of good jokes come out of it. It's like, time to eat lunch, in a cup. And then like, everyone has a cup-of-lunch appear in their hand.

PESCA: Well, don't tell me anymore jokes, because I've decided this whole summer all the big blockbusters, the ones you say you should see this in a theater, to me, "Hulk," "Indiana Jones," they haven't been really well-reviewed movies. I get out to the actual movies in a movie theater, you know, once a month, if I really try to, because I'm a young dad. This is the one I'm going to see. This is it. This is the one they got.

MARTIN: OK. Let's take a turn and move on to something slightly different, maybe less young. Maybe not, who knows? "Wanted," starring James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie, and when we broached this in the meeting the other day, every ones like, "Wanted," oh, yeah, the one with the bullets that curve.

HOLLOWAY: This is the movie.

MARTIN: Can you explain?

HOLLOWAY: I think that sums it up perfectly.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HOLLOWAY: This is the one with the bullets that curve.

MARTIN: That's it. That's all there is to it. They just curve, and everyone just accepts it.

HOLLOWAY: There seems to be a requirement in action films now that the special effects have to be physics-bending.


(Soundbite of laughter)

HOLLOWAY: Like, you have to show something occurring in the natural world.

MARTIN: You mean like, "The Matrix."

HOLLOWAY: That doesn't occur. Yeah, and let's blame "The Matrix.

MARTIN: Yeah. Why not?

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: So, let's listen to a little bit of a scene here. Here's Angelina Jolie, another big name in the film, Morgan Freeman, meeting for the first time in a supermarket.

(Soundbite of movie "Wanted")

Mr. JAMES MCAVOY: (As Sloan): I'm sorry.

Ms. ANGELINA JOLIE: (As Wesley Gibson): You apologize too much.

Mr. MCAVOY: I'm sorry about that.

Ms. JOLIE: I knew your father.

Mr. MCAVOY: My father left the week I was born, so...

Ms. JOLIE: Your father died yesterday on the rooftop of the Metropolitan building. Sorry.

(Soundbite of a chuckle)

Mr. MCAVOY: Ah, look, the liquor aisle is just over there, so if you want to...

Ms. JOLIE: Your father was one of the greatest assassins who ever lived. The man who killed him is behind you.

(Soundbite of a scuffle)

(Soundbite of breaking glass)

HOLLOWAY: Curving bullets.

PESCA: Yeah. You can tell the trajectory from the sound.

MARTIN: We should just point out that, that wasn't Morgan Freeman. That was James McAvoy.

PESCA: I thought Morgan Freeman was displaying impressive range.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: How does McAvoy do? He was - he got a lot of credit for his role in the "Last King of Scotland." How's he doing here with, Angie?

HOLLOWAY: He's convincing, and he's becoming a little movie star. You know, I think the press for this movie or the marketing campaign, I should say, is trying to make it look like there's a romantic storyline between the two of them, and there's no - but McAvoy's good. The first part of this movie is pretty clever, in that it spends a lot of time with doing kind of fun jokes with his office life, and poking fun at that, and he's a very sort of shlubbie guy and then he goes through the necessary training montages.

PESCA: McAvoy is?

HOLLOWAY: McAvoy is, yeah.

PESCA: That's good. He usually plays a suave guy, like in "Atonement," and even as he seemed to have it all going on as, the fawn, in...

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: "Chronicles of Narnia."

HOLLOWAY: Narnia, yeah.

MARTIN: He isn't the fawn.

PESCA: Yeah, he was the fawn. What was the guy's name?

HOLLOWAY: Mr. Tumnus.


MARTIN: Oh, gosh.

PESCA: Tumnus.

MARTIN: Can I just ask you what you think about Angelina Jolie's acting ability? I'm just curious.

HOLLOWAY: This is going to be the US Weekly writer in me coming out.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: I want to hear it.

HOLLOWAY: She's too skinny.

MARTIN: She's too skinny.

HOLLOWAY: I mean...

MARTIN: I did ask you about her acting ability. Well, I love that that was your answer.

HOLLOWAY: But this is why that's relevant.

PESCA: Pregnancy has taken care of that.

HOLLOWAY: Yeah, probably has.

PESCA: I saw her on the cover of Vanity Fair, and she's busting out.

HOLLOWAY: Yeah, well, she's got a tiny baby living inside her, you know? But when you have a movie that is this sort of stylized, and you know, she's supposed to be playing the sexy vamp, and I'm sorry, I just don't believe it. I don't know if it's appropriate to really comment on an actor's weight, but I do think she's...

PESCA: Oh, we're here. You've got to say it.

HOLLOWAY: Yeah, I think she's too skinny.


HOLLOWAY: I think she needs to eat a turkey before she does another movie like this.

MARTIN: Listen up, Angelina. Daniel Holloway has spoken. OK, let's take yet another turn.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: From the next host of "Celebrity Fit Club," Daniel Holloway.

HOLLOWAY: Oh, no, I won't be back here.

PESCA: No, seriously, I know exactly what you mean. In another McAvoy movie, I'm looking at Keira Knightly saying - what? She - I mean, it's just distractingly thin.

MARTIN: Well, that does get to be a point when you're actually distracted from...

HOLLOWAY: I can't believe I'm looking at a...

PESCA: Yeah, you worry about her health. And I mean, it's also the star's fault, because they make themselves such big icons. Angelina Jolie's all about her image. How are we not supposed to think about her image?

HOLLOWAY: Yeah, anyway...

MARTIN: Moving on. "Trumbo," a documentary, a little different here, about Dalton Trumbo. Before we have a conversation, let's listen to a little bit of the trailer.

(Soundbite of movie trailer "Trumbo")

Senator JOSEPH MCCARTHY (Republican, Wisconsin): Please state your full name.

Mr. DALTON TRUMBO: (As Dalton Trumbo) Dalton Trumbo.

Unidentified Announcer: He was Hollywood's greatest screenwriter.

Mr. TONY CURTIS: (As Antoninus) I'm Spartacus.

Mr. KIRK DOUGLAS: (As Spartacus) I am Spartacus!

Mr. DUSTIN HOFFMAN (Actor): He was one of our heroes. He was an iconoclast.

Unidentified Announcer: His words still resonate today.

Mr. TRUMBO: I dreamed that the world could be better, and tried to make it so.

Mr. NATHAN LANE (Actor): The right man collides with the right idea, at precisely the right time.

Mr. BRIAN DENNEHY (Actor): I find enough to do, but don't enjoy doing it.

Mr. JOSH LUCAS (Actor): I must make the choice of what kind of writer I want to be.

Mr. LIAM NEESON (Actor): Dalton Trumbo, prisoner number 7551.

(Soundbite of gavel)

Sen. MCCARTHY: Mr. Trumbo, are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?

Unidentified Narrator: He defied a committee.

MARTIN: So, this is about screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, famous for writing "Spartacus," "The Brave One." He was blacklisted in 1956. Why is this story relevant now?

HOLLOWAY: Why is this story relevant now?

MARTIN: Maybe it's not.

HOLLOWAY: It's clear.

MARTIN: Why is it happening now?

HOLLOWAY: It's clearly relevant now with - under this administration, but I'm not going to get into a political bloviating, I think.

PESCA: You save your bloviating for actresses and how they look.

HOLLOWAY: Yeah, I got a pret for political bloviating.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HOLLOWAY: That doesn't come naturally. I mean, I think this is a story that's always relevant in the black - in the, you know, HUAC and the blacklist are things that we always need to come back to. I think Trumbo's story is interesting, because Trumbo was such an interesting person. And I think this movie is not very heavy-handed in the history lesson that it has to doll out.

PESCA: I saw a one-man play called "Trumbo." That might have been...

HOLLOWAY: It's based on that. It was written by Trumbo's son, Christopher.

PESCA: Yeah, and many different actors play Trumbo during the run. I saw it with Chris Cooper of "American Beauty" fame. I heard that Michael, he wasn't good. I expected him to be, but it seemed like he didn't really know the part that well. I heard that Michael Richards, Kramer, was awesome.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HOLLOWAY: I can believe that.

PESCA: Yeah.

MARTIN: Big names in this, though. I mean, Dustin Hoffman, Nathan Lane, Liam Neeson, Kirk Douglas.


MARTIN: Michael, Donald Sutherland, Joan Allen.

HOLLOWAY: David Straithairn opens at - from, "Good Night and Good Luck." Yeah, a lot of good names, and everyone is kind of...

MARTIN: Should I see this?

HOLLOWAY: Yeah, this is definitely a movie to see. Trumbo was an excellent writer, and a lot of the readings that the actors are doing are coming from his letters, and some of his letters are hilarious.


HOLLOWAY: You really get this sense of a guy who was always on, and more than anything else took words really seriously, so seriously that he continued to work after he was no longer getting credit for it. And he was thrown in jail for his activities in the Communist Party, which he never apologized for. And he ended up exiled in Mexico. He had two of his films won Oscars that he was not able to pick up.

PESCA: And they had fake names on it.

HOLLOWAY: They had fake names on them, yeah.

PESCA: "Spartacus," I think, wasn't under Trumbo's name.

HOLLOWAY: No, "Spartacus" was not under Trumbo's name. They eventually changed the print.

PESCA: Yeah.

HOLLOWAY: And added his name to it.

PESCA: You know, the one thing that turned me off, though, about that trailer. To start off, with the greatest screenwriter in Hollywood, he wasn't. I mean, he was a great screenwriter, but Paddy Chayefsky was writing at the time.


PESCA: You know, you want to talk about director William Wyler. So I don't know why they have to hype it like that. He was great enough.

HOLLOWAY: I think it's one of those things where they assume that you don't know who this guy is, and they assume you don't know who his contemporaries were. So, just why not say it?

MARTIN: Why not say it if people will believe it?

MARTIN: Daniel Holloway writes reviews for Metro and he's our film guy here at the BPP.

PESCA: Can I say this?


PESCA: Danny, I think this is a beginning of a beautiful friendship.


PESCA: Right, that's the button on the "Casablanca" theme.

MARTIN: It is. You guys will have to go on without me. Hey, thanks, Dan.

PESCA: As you fly away into the (unintelligible)...

HOLLOWAY: Thank you, guys.

MARTIN: That does it for this hour of the BPP. We don't go away online, but you know that. We're there at npr.org/bryantpark. I'm Rachel Martin.

PESCA: And I'm Mike Pesca, and this is the Bryant Park Project.

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