Directed by John Lasseter; Co-Directed by Joe Ranft
Starring the voices of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, Cheech Marin, Tony Shalhoub, George Carlin, Michael Keaton, and John Ratzenburger (naturally).
The reviews have been somewhat lackluster. The trailers made me go “meh.” And people on the ‘net have been predicting doom and gloom for this film since it got pushed back from November 2005 to Summer 2006. So why did I still go see Cars?
1) It’s Pixar. Pixar invented the computer animated film and is still on the leading edge.
2) It’s written and directed by John Lasseter. Lasseter wrote and directed A Bug’s Life and the Toy Stories. It was his first time in the director’s chain in 7 years, so I had to see if he could make it 4 for 4.
3) The trailers for Pixar’s Finding Nemo also made me go “meh,” but the film turned out to rock. So that earned Pixar the benefit of the doubt.
Lightening McQueen is the hot new rookie of racing. After an unprecedented 3-way tie for the Piston Cup, a special run-off race is declared between Lightening, his arch-rival Chick Hicks, and the retiring The King. On his way to the big race, Lightening gets separated from his big rig and winds up in the ghost town of Radiator Springs, on the remains of Route 66. In his panic, Lightening winds up tearing up main street. As his punishment, he’s ordered to repair main street before leaving town. In his time there, Lightening gets to know the wacky locals who make up Radiator Springs…and learn a little something about himself. Will Lightening reform his selfish ways? Will he fall in love? Will he make the big race? And what’s the shadowy past of Doc Hudson, the town doctor? I’m certain you can answer all those questions without watching the movie.
What I Liked
There are some truly funny moments. The voice acting is top-notch. Great use of classic songs. Some charming characters. And, because it’s Pixar, the animation is fan-friggin’-tastic.
What I Didn’t Like
Well, a lot of the reviews are right. The plot is fairly formulaic and by-the-numbers. It wavers dangerously into DreamWorks Animation territory with its number of celebrity cameos and pop culture references. And there’s this one moment in the middle of the film that just made me go “meh.” It’s a musical number…I’m sure they were going for a big emotional musical montage like “When She Loved Me” in Toy Story 2, but it doesn’t quite gel the same way.
Sadly, it’s not Pixar’s best. The formulaic plot does really drag it down. However, it’s still a fairly entertaining film, and it’ll still deliver a good time.
One Final Note
This being a Pixar film, it starts off with one of Pixar’s short films. This one is called One Man Band. It’s about two rival one-man-bands who erupt into a music war as they try to win the heart (and gold coin) of a little girl. With a very unexpected end, this is an incredibly funny short. 3.5 Nibs for One Man Band.