STUDIO: Disney
MSRP: $29.99
RUNNING TIME: 116 min.
Mater and the Ghostlight exclusive animated short
One Man Band animated short
Inspiration For Cars
• Deleted Scenes

The Pitch

It’s a gas, gas, gas.

The Humans

Voices of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Larry The Cable Guy, Cheech Marin, Tony Shalhoub, Paul Dooley, George Carlin, Katherine Helmond, John Ratzenberger, Michael Keaton, Jeremy Piven, Edie McClurg

The Nutshell

In a world of living, talking cars, rookie stock-racer Lightning McQueen (Wilson) has to slow down and learn to appreciate life when he strays from the Interstate and gets stranded in a sleepy Southwestern town. But what could an old 1951 Hudson (Newman) teach a high-octane speedster?

"Try to give me a banana in the tailpipe, will ya?"

The Lowdown

Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not exactly a NASCAR enthusiast. Don’t tell my fellow Californians, but I don’t even drive. Perhaps that’s why I also fail to identify with small-town cruising, depicted here as the alternative to professional racing.

It pains me to say it, but this effort from Pixar is a down-on-power ride. I’m not knocking the visuals—they’re more intricate and gorgeous than ever, and that’s saying a lot. The problem lies with the studio’s so-called secret weapon: story. Maybe their formula is tired: Our hero, an asshole, experiences a forced change of locale, recognizes his faults, and becomes a better person. That’s Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, both Toy Storys, and to some degree, A Bug’s Life.

"Vive le differential."

On the other hand, maybe there’s nothing wrong with the formula—they just didn’t use all of it. Excepting The Incredibles, which is an entirely different deal, all previous Pixar movies have involved characters who populate environments closely linked to our own: they’re the toys under our beds; the monsters in our closets; the bugs in our yards. In Cars, however, there are no humans at all, and little evidence that they ever existed.

So what to make of the world of Cars? Is this the aftermath of a global plague? Did the planet’s automobiles, left to themselves for eons, finally develop consciousness and evolve their own society? Did there then follow some intervehicular civil war that eradicated all the mass-transit vehicles? Where does the gasoline come from? Oh my god. IT’S PEOPLE! DINOCO IS PEOPLE!

If the guys in the animation department had just stepped out their front door
with a regular camera, this shot could have cost ten thousand dollars less.

Speaking of fossil fuels, there’s a pesky environmental issue hanging over all this. How responsible is it, in this particular day and age, to make a children’s film that romanticizes the internal-combustion engine? I concede that, given a four-year production schedule, there’s no way the writers could have anticipated that their tribute to recreational driving would eventually premiere opposite a summer of skyrocketing pump prices, but… still. At least the movie practices what it preaches: it’s in absolutely no hurry to go anywhere.

What Devin said, HERE.
CHUD’s pre-release coverage, HERE.

The Package

A surprisingly slim set of supplements: there’s a full-screen version of the end-credits gag reel; a collection of deleted scenes; a clutch of trailers; and two animated shorts, one of which is essentially another deleted scene. In the half-hour documentary, director (and Pixar main man) John Lasseter makes it clear that this was a very personal project. Story man Joe Ranft, who died before the film’s release, is also featured; Cars is dedicated to his memory.

6 out of 10