June 9, 2006
Action/Adventure, Comedy, Animation
(the voices of) Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Richard Petty, Cheech Marin, Larry the Cable Guy
John Lasseter, Joe Ranft
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Buena Vista International
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By Elliott Ryan
I have always been a big fan of Pixar’s movies. Some of my favorite films are Pixar cartoons (the Toy Story movies, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles). So you can imagine my excitement over the last few weeks as the date for the premiere of Pixar’s latest offering Cars drew near.
The film is, as every Pixar film before it, visually stunning. The computer animation is tremendous. Unfortunately, that is the best thing I can say about this movie. As for the story itself, it was not bad. But it definitely was not in the same league as the previous Pixar films. Not even close.
The story focuses on the plight of a conceited racecar named Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson). As the movie begins, the lead character is so unbearable that members of his pit crew keep quitting because they don’t want to be around him. Even though he is still a rookie, he finds himself in a three-way tie for first place in the race standings. So, an inevitable tiebreaker race is needed to decide who this season’s champion will be.
On his way to the race, McQueen gets stuck in a dilapidated old town named Radiator Springs. On his drive through the town, he gets into trouble with the law and ends up stuck in town serving out his sentence of community service. We see him interact with the local townspeople – or more accurately townscars. He becomes friends in particular with a tow truck named Mater (the only really funny character in the movie, voiced by Larry the Cable Guy). He falls in love with a local innkeeper (voiced by Bonnie Hunt). And he keeps having run-ins with the local judge who has some secrets from his past that he is trying to hide (voiced by Paul Newman).
Of course, in this quaint, old town, McQueen learns many valuable life lessons that will be good for children and adults alike to absorb. By the time he leaves, he is a much better person – er, car. So, this inoffensive G-rated movie teaches morals and is wholesome enough for the whole family. Your kids will probably like it.
However, you may be bored. It lasts almost two hours and sections of it really drag. Perhaps it was just because I loved the previous Pixar movies so much, but this film was a real disappointment. The other Pixar movies were well known for their ability to entertain adults as well as children. This one doesn’t achieve that goal - at least not nearly as successfully as the previous films.
Older audience members, wistful for days gone by when life was slower and towns were smaller and quainter, may enjoy this movie for nostalgia purposes. But people who are accustomed to the frenetic pace of previous Pixar films may want to bring a pillow.
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