Life is a journey. Enjoy the trip.
Cars is a 2006 animated comedy film directed by John Lasseter, written by Dan Fogelman, John Lasseter, Joe Ranft, Kiel Murray, Phil Lorin, and Jorgen Klubien, produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios, and distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. It stars Owen Wilson and Paul Newman. The film was nominated for Best Original Song and Best Animated Feature, but did not win either. This is the first film in the Cars franchise. It was followed by Cars 2.
"Faster than fast. Quicker than quick. I am lightning." -Lightning McQueen
Hotshot rookie race car Lightning McQueen was inches away from winning the legendary Piston Cup. But, because of his ego, it was a three-way tie. Now, Lightning has a week to prepare for the tiebreaker race in California. On his way, however, he gets lost and winds up in a small, rundown town called Radiator Springs in the middle of nowhere. As Lightning stays in Radiator Springs, he befriends the quirky folks of the place, and realizes that the race isn't as important as friendship.
The biggest thing about this film, I think, is the characters. When Lightning McQueen ends up in Radiator Springs, he is introduced to a new cast of quirky, weird, and fun characters. Even though most of them have pretty minor parts, I liked them all. Obviously, Lightning McQueen is our leading man, and I thought that his redemptive arc in the story was fun to see. It was pretty cliche, but we haven't seen a race car need their ego checked before. Doc Hudson is the grumpy leader of the town and is the only one who doesn't latch on to Lightning after a bit. He stays that way until the very end, and I thought that, while his was cliche as well, I liked seeing his arc. Lightning and Doc are both different stereotypes of characters that fit into it perfectly, which can be a good and bad thing. We will touch on some of that later.
The supporting cast is really the highlight. Mater is probably the most likable character of the bunch. He is pretty funny at times, and serves as a good comic relief character. While he may not have much personality, he is an incredibly important character for Lightning's redemption. Sally is the usual love interest. There's not much to say for her. Like most of the other characters, she fits into a stereotype that is seen throughout a lot of movies, but it seems a little bit different, because everybody is a car.
The other characters are fun. I think that they are more made for merchandising, but it was cool to see different types of humans impersonated as cars. They all have their own memorable moments that fit each of their characters. From Luigi and Guido to Flo and Lizzie, I think that Cars has some really great characters that work for the target audience (which, obviously, is kids).
I think that the ending is fitting. It may be a little bit predictable, but it works all the same. It pays off everything that we've seen throughout the film perfectly, and I think that it is an exciting and fun sequence. There is nothing more satisfying than having a jerk that only cares about himself sacrifice his own winnings to redeem another person and give himself last place.
Lastly, I think that the movie can be pretty funny at times. Mater is obviously the comic relief in the film, and Larry the Cable Guy is the perfect voice for him. The comedy is timed pretty well, and I think that that adds to the hilarity of the one-liners or quips.
This is really the first Pixar movie that I don't immediately fall in love with. There are some very obvious problems, starting with the middle act. It drags on and on and on, even though it is littered with fun characters and some good moments. The story is too simple and too paper thin that the middle part of it feels like an eternity. Like I said, there are some good moments inside of that middle act, but it feels like the writers didn't really think outside of the box on this one, which they usually do.
Secondly, Lightning McQueen is horrible for the first half of the movie. It's very hard to root for him, because he sucks, but eventually he is redeemed. However, we are not talking about his redemption. I get that the writers wanted him to have a powerful redemption, but they made him a bit too rude and unlikable in the first part of the film.
I know that the movie got nominated for Best Original Song, but I was not a fan of the soundtrack. I didn't think that the music fit particularly well, and it could be very distracting in the middle. It also felt like the sound ratio was not well balanced. Maybe it was my TV, but it did feel like the music was a lot louder than the dialogue.
Some of the plot beats didn't really feel earned. I'm mainly talking about the Doc-racer storyline. It didn't make a ton of sense, and I felt like they really shoehorned it into the plot so that they could make Doc a redeemable character at the end. His switch from dismissive, grumpy, old guy doesn't feel right at all, and I wish that they had either focused on it more, or just not touched on it at all. They never actually pay off the romance between Sally and Lightning, and I thought that that was so strange for a Disney movie. Not a fan of that at all, and, considering that Lightning McQueen is a side character in Cars 2, I'm sure that that isn't payed off in the next film, either.
Lastly, I think that the voices were not cast perfectly. I don't think anybody is necessarily bad, I just think that they chose some quiet voices for loud characters. Owen Wilson is a comedic actor that I don't often see in big, egotistical roles, so I don't think that he fits Lightning McQueen's character. Michael Keaton, who is Batman, plays the main villain, who is a jerky, loud annoying piece of junk. Chick Hicks should not be Michael Keaton, especially since it is such a small role.
While Cars may be a fun addition to Pixar's history, it cannot compare to any of the other Hall of Fame inductees that Pixar has had.
I will give it a Sour rating. Age range is 4+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
Fun Factor: 5.5/10
Characters: 7/10 Quality: 6/10
Directed by John Lasseter
Rated G for some thematic elements
Released on June 9, 2006
1 hour and 57 minutes
Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen
Paul Newman as Doc Hudson
Bonnie Hunt as Sally Carrera
Larry the Cable Guy as Mater
Tony Shalhoub as Luigi
Jenifer Lewis as Flo
Michael Keaton as Chick Hicks
John Ratzenberger as Mack
Cheech Marin as Ramone
Guido Quaroni as Guido
Paul Dooley as Sarge
Michael Wallis as Sheriff
George Carlin as Filmore
Katherine Helmond as Lizzie