Wall-E is terrific, but I also really liked the Pixar short, Presto, beforehand.
There have been some attempts to recapture the spirit of the classic Warner Brothers’ cartoons over the years. As far continuing series go, I liked both Pinky and the Brain and Freakazoid, but they were really creations unto themselves, only vaguely reminiscent of the best work of Tex Avery, Chuck Jones or Robert McKimson. Later revivals of the original characters and situations also have ranged widely, but even at best have seemed tired, such as “The Duxorcist”. Then there’s utter crap like Space Jam or The Loonatics. I think one of the problems with even the best of Warners’ own efforts at updating their animation is a kind of Chuck-Jonesification. Some of Jones’ most realized cartoons with Bugs Bunny et al are my absolute favorites that the studio ever produced, but they also created a kind of template (visual and situational) for revivals that made the characters too round, too smug, too polished, too self-aware.
Presto is like a shot of pure Tex Avery into the Pixar sensibility, though. It’s antic, witty, an instant classic. It really feels like it ought to be stuck onto a future Looney Tunes Golden Collection as a kind of epilogue or metacommentary.
As long as I’m at it, also some cheers for Kung Fu Panda. It’s not anywhere near as visually or thematically interesting as Wall-E, but it’s entertaining nevertheless. It only took about eight utterly dismal retreads of Shrek filled with lots of poopy and fart routines and already-obsolete pop culture in-jokes for the Dreamworks guys to actually make an entertaining, tightly scripted animated film. Not so impressed on the learning curve there, but however you get it done. There is no secret ingredient: just make a good movie.