Movie Name: Cars
Studio: Pixar Animation Studios
Release Date(s): June 9, 2006
MPAA Rating: G
Lightning McQueen is fast…really fast. As a rookie on the racing circuit, Lightning McQueen could be the first rookie to win the Piston Cup. When he disregards his pit crew, Lightning ends up in a three-way tie with Strip “The King” Weathers and Chick Hicks…leading to a special race-off event. When Lightning is lost on the way to the race, he finds himself in the abandoned Route 66 town of Radiator Springs. Lightning’s action force him to work off damages to the town…but Lightning discovers a car in Radiator Springs is hiding a secret that could change his style of racing forever.
Directed by John Lasseter, Cars is a Disney-Pixar film that followed-up to their 2004 hit The Incredibles. The movie was released to critical acclaim and huge box office returns. The movie was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature (losing to Happy Feet) and was the last non-documentary film of Paul Newman.
I can’t say I was excited to see Cars. I was never a car nut growing up and I still am not a car nut. Seeing a bunch of animated cars taking on the role of humans wasn’t my idea of a good time…and it turned into a rather ho-hum movie.
Critics noted almost immediately that the plot of Cars was almost identical to Doc Hollywood which had Michael J. Fox falling in love after being trapped in a small town when he is sentenced to community service…sound familiar? The story which is original (aka the car racing aspect) is quite predictable and lacks the Pixar fun.
Like every Pixar film, a top cast was assembled for Cars. Owen Wilson plays the lead Lightning McQueen with Bonnie Hunt as his love interest Sally Carrera. Larry the Cable Guy is a scene stealer as Mater and is joined by other comedians George Carlin, Jay Leno, and Cheech Marin. Other voice actors include Tony Shalhoub, Edie McClurg, Richard Kind, Paul Dooley, Michael Keaton, Katherine Helmond, and Pixar regular John Ratzenberger as Mack. The movie also has drivers Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Michael Schumacher. The biggest get of the film of course ended up being Paul Newman…I just wish he went out on a brighter note (but the guy did love racing).
The movie I just don’t think has that look that made other Pixar films feel more real. On a basic level, I don’t understand humanizing vehicles…it just is Transformers without the cool transformations. The advances of CGI are that the movies can make flesh and blood creations feel real and textured…Cars ignores this and makes sleek metal…something CGI has done well for years.
Cars for me just isn’t that fun. The plot is cliche and the animation just isn’t Pixar’s strongest. I’m just not into cars…so Cars isn’t my movie. Pixar followed Cars with Ratatouille in 2007. Surprisingly, Pixar chose to not only do a sequel to Cars with Cars 2 in 2011 but it also led to a Disney spin-off film in Planes in 2013.
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