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06 August 2011

Cars (2006)

Directed by: John Lasseter
Genre: Family, Animated, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Runtime: 113 Minutes
Start your engines because we are going on a drive like never before! "Cars" is a very fresh and original concept but it the weaker point of Pixar. However, one thing it reminds me of is my early years and how playful I was with toy cars. How I would line them up, have them talk to each other, making those fake car sounds, it seems the Pixar team really know how to relate to people and their style is almost poetic. "Cars" has some vividly vibrant animation and a lively story to keep it steady as a kids film that can still be a little bit enjoyable for older audiences.

Our story takes a step into the world of taking animated cars, where cars are very much people. We meet Lightning McQueen (Voiced by Owen Wilson), an obnoxious and egotistical racer who we witness in a high speed, high-res race where he wins by a tongue, yes, and a tongue. Just barely making the race after his tyres burned out which led to him winning by a tongue, the race turns out to be a three way tie. Afterwards he is to head to California to race for the Piston Cup against two other racers. On the road late at night, he ends up on a huge detour ending up in Radiator Springs and must fix the damage he caused. Therefore, he is to do community service and must fix the road, with a machine called ‘Bessie’. During his stay, we meet a happy Italian tyres salesman, a hill-billy named mater and a list of characters that would go on for some time. Will he make it in time for his big race?

"Cars" has a huge all-star cast that even gracefully puts its previous films in remembrance. After overlooking the credits, it appears that several of the previous Pixar voice actors make small cameos. John Goodman (The Voice of “Monster’s Inc.’s” Sully) played the Sully Car, Billy Crystal as the Mike Car and even Tom Hanks as the Woody car. I cannot exactly remember these cars but the list is bigger than that for the cameos. It is nice that the cars are named after the characters of the previous films also. Let alone the interesting celebrity caricatures of Jay Limo actually voiced by Jay Leno himself, and even a caricature version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was amazing how they managed to resemble these celebrities.

As with most Pixar’s films, the visuals are great. Here we have high-resolution landscapes that are very epic in scale and from the cacti to the dirt on the ground Pixar have polished "Cars" off well. Pretty visuals are only part of what we have come to expect of the Pixar experience, though. As a piece of storytelling, Cars sometimes has a sluggishness that is all the more surprising considering it’s directed by animation god John Lasseter, back behind the wheel for the first time since “Toy Story 2”. The story plays out fine and Lightning McQueen has a steady transformation at his stay at Radiator Springs going from obnoxious speed racer to a friendly respectful racer.

The characters are one of the film’s strong points. Although I do not like Owen Wilson much as a comedian, his voice in Lightning McQueen suited well. Mater was a nice character in the story because as dumb as he is, he is a go and faithful friend. Sally is the love interest of the story for McQueen and Bonnie Hunt created energy as the voice actor. One of the most important characters at Radiator Springs is Doc Hudson, who simultaneously looks like a 1951 Hudson Hornet and Paul Newman. With a past that previous racing he is the one who gives advice to McQueen but hates him most of the time as a current racer.

I am not very knowledgeable about cars, nor do I care much but you do not need to be a car expert to understand the several references made within the film. For one thing, Radiator springs has classic 60’s motif as we see with the car Flo who is a 60’s car that you may not know the name of, but you can identify that look. Even her name reminds you of this period. One way ‘Cars’ connects with people is how it can remind you of your childhood. If anyone remembers there childhood and played with toy cars, this film will remind you of that blissful time. It is almost like bringing your memory to life on the screen. "Cars" brings these inanimate vehicles to life and as usual, Pixar pulls it off by this time having the bumper being their mouths, and the window being they’re eyes. 

Unbelievably Pixar create some form of emotional impact (although little) with these talking cars and is one of the beautiful things they do. However, with all this in favour it is talking cars so the emotional drive is limited and the story’s emotion only goes so far. Therefore, to enjoy the film you have to put the concept of talking cars aside. Regardless of that, it has a very gracious story that will be fun for all ages. Although the older audiences will easily compare it with other Pixar films. It may not reach the high standards of "Toy Story" and "The Incredibles", viewers of all ages will marvel at the technical brilliance of the animation and come away satisfied.

My Rating: 6.5/10


  1. Hey Thomas, would love to join the site you were talking about on my blog. Unfortunately, I have a piece of crap computer that's messed up which cannot send emails at the moment, so if I could let you know on here that's great. Otherwise, sorry!



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