Owen Wilson provides the voice of Lightning McQueen in Cars.
Cars takes place in a world where all forms of automobiles exist as live creatures. Lightning McQueen is a rookie race car with a hot paint job and an ego to match. He gets lost on the way to a race in California and finds himself stranded in a small town, Radiator Springs, and makes like Michael J. Fox in Doc Hollywood doing community service.
The movie opens with a race and ends with one. In between McQueen learns all kinds of lessons about friendship and winning. The lesson is pretty much hammered into the audience. Early on McQueen's agent asks him for the names of his friends so he can send them some complimentary tickets to the race. McQueen doesn't have friends and thus does not give any names. He of course ends up endearing himself to the local towns folks.
The jokes come from the supporting cast. Carlin is a hippy van who has come up with an organic fuel. Larry is a tow truck named Mater who explains, "It's like ta-mater, but without the ta." He and McQueen go tractor tipping in the funniest scene in the movie. My favorite supporting character is Guido the tire salesman, who ends up liking McQueen even though he is not a Ferrari.
Cars suffers only in the middle of the movie when it slows down to hammer McQueen's lesson about friendship and winning. It also has a needless sequence about how Route 66 use to be a popular way to travel until the highway was built. Learning something in a movie is okay as long as it does not hamper the entertainment of the film. A little trimming in the middle of this film would have helped. WHen you find yourself getting bored take a look at the background and try to see how many car referrences you can find in the background. The mountains are all car shaped and the clouds have car tracks on them.
George Carlin provides the voice of Filmore in Cars.
Eric is right to give Cars a rather hesitant endorsement. It does entertain, but it is definitely a lesser Pixar endeavor when you compare it to Toy Story or Monsters, Inc.. There are still many entertaining moments and some great characters, but they never quite gel together and the middle is far too maudlin and a bit dull.
Wilson, as McQueen, is mainly just there as straight man to the supporting cast, whom get all the movie's best moments and biggest laughs. Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) was my personal favorite, but like Eric, found the Italian tire shop owners to be also quite funny.
My favorite moment in the movie didn't come until the closing credits when they show a drive-in theater showing car-themed versions of Pixar's earlier films, like A Toy Car Story and Monster Trucks, Inc., featuring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Billy Crystal.
Like all Pixar cartoons, the animation is amazing. During the scene where McQueen and Sally are driving through the mountains, the attention to detail in the scenery is so finely crafted that you can almost believe that it isn't a cartoon at all. It makes you think, just how many years will it be before you are unable to tell if a movie is computer generated or not?
Perhaps the best judge of a cartoon is how children receive it. I can't vouch for anywhere else, but when I saw it there were a number of kids in the audience and by about half-way through it, they were restless and a few of them even started chasing each other up and down the aisles.
An entertaining cartoon, but one that falls short of being a classic.
Paul Newman provides the voice of Doc Hudson in Cars.
Like my brothers I wasn't overly impressed with Cars. Although it made tons of money and garnered mostly positive reviews it's not in the same league as other Pixar releases such as Wall-E, Up or the Toy Story movies. Although, unlike my brothers, I enjoyed the middle section of the movie, the time Lighting spends in Radiator Springs, the most. By contrast I found the beginning and ending car races to be quite dull.
Eric, I thought the flashback-in-time scene to the early days of Route 66 was one of the movie's best moments. It evokes a real sense of nostalgia and gives the world depicted in the movie a bit of historical depth. It is also the only section of the film that seems aimed at adults.
Eric mentioned in his Cars 2 review that the world depicted herein seems like it was created by a young boy playing with his matchbox cars, lost in his own imaginative reverie. I agree. This world isn't based on logic but it is heartfelt.
I am in complete agreement about the stunning visuals Pixar creates. Even 6 years later Cars still looks impressive. It's just too bad the story being told isn't as compelling to the brain as the background vistas are to the eye.
The voice work is sterling. The entire cast does a great job at bringing these polymorphous automobiles to life. John Ratzenberger continues his run as the only actor to voice a character in every Pixar release. They even poke fun at this fact in the scene during the end credits that Scott mentioned. Paul Newman, one of my all time favorite stars, steals his scenes as the old ex-race car with his gruff, familiar growl of a voice. The fact that this would be his final big screen appearance adds a layer of poignancy to it.
To paraphrase Lighting McQueen, “This movie doesn't exactly float like a Cadillac and sting like a Beemer.” At nearly 2 hours it runs out of gas before the final credits roll, and unlike most Pixar movies, Cars is strictly for kids.
Photos © Copyright Pixar (2006)