If you want a see a film in which Short Circuit's No. 5 falls in love with a fellow robot who resembles the Vibrating Egg of Alvy Singer's dreams, go see WALL-E. If you miss Ally Sheedy, you may not like WALL-E (the ship's auto-pilot evokes the computer in Flight of the Navigator, another mid eighties kid favorite). If you suspect that Pixar's writer-director stable gets too much credit for self-consciously bright, clever banter, blame the state of American screenwriting, and marvel at the faith writer-director Andrew Stanton places in his visuals (whose depth of color and adherence to simple geometric design reminded me of Jacques Tati's Playtime) and his unemphatic didacticism, if that makes any sense: junk food and technology may render us obese and immobile, but according to Stanton this is not without its charms.
Still, I wasn't as knocked out by this as so many people were. The nearly silent first third drags in places -- I nodded off once -- and I found EVE's voice a major irritant; the timbre in which she'd call out for WALL-E was the girlish equivalent of the kid's screech in "Lassie." Also: maybe I'm a jerk for insisting on a dour ending in a Pixar picture, but the enormous popularity of the Harry Potter series tells me that kids are more than up to the challenge of accepting death, especially when it's coupled with the usual no-brainer theme of self-sacrifice. Producers need to stop underestimating the intelligence of the average child.