Most of my friends/readers have remarked, unfairly I might add/ that I am extra tough on Pixar movies when it comes to rating them. Their argument usually includes something along the lines of: “You gave Robots a higher rating then The Incredibles and Monsters Inc.” To which I reply with “Uhh..yeah!” I mean you stated a fact right there. What doesn’t work with that argument is the fact that there is a preconceived notion that Robots sucked, or that nothing compares to a Pixar film and that Pixar are Gods who saved the movie industry with their style of animation. That last part may be true, but they are not Gods and stuff does compare to them. Here are the facts about Pixar – their best movie is Finding Nemo and their worst, although not by much is The Incredibles. Yes, I include Cars in those classifications and the fact that it’s better than it’s predecessor is clearly a good thing.
Still, Cars suffers from the same thing that all Pixar films have suffered, and that is it’s need to liken its clearly fantastical characters to human beings. That, coupled with the cliche plotline is a one-two punch that constantly ruins their movies. But let me get back to the negatives of humanizing the characters and their actions. Animation has the upper-hand over all the other genres, because it can create fantastical scenarios and stories that we couldn’t even imagine put up on screen. Disney movies have always aimed at not including basic human qualities tasks in movies and applied them to human beings unless it was essential to the storyline like in Beauty and the Beast. All I’m saying is that Pixar is taking one of the charms of animation away. In Cars, violators of the law do community service, cars get married, girl cars ‘flash’ guy cars, cars listen to Jimi Hendrix and Van Morrisson.
It is Pixar that started that and their reasoning behind it is that it’s clever. At least DreamWorks’ Madagascar did it to be funny. Clever is not always funny. That’s why I didn’t like Shark Tale and The Wild. They thought that it was clever and all that, but they were committing the same mistake of taking us out of the fantastical setting and circumstance and familiarizing it. This is not owed to Pixar, DreamWorks, and Disney wanting to be clever, but it’s simply a signal of creativity running out. Picture an animated film without all unneeded references to the real world. That would be one to see.
Cars tells the story of Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), a cocky racecar who crashes into Radiator Springs while he is aggressively racing – his favorite thing to do. He destroys a lot of expensive belongings and is sentenced to community work somewhere in an uninhabited land. Well, the land is away from the city – the country and there he meets a lot of other cars that teach him about life and why he shouldn’t be arrogant and cocky, but appreciative and should recognize the value of something.
The three main cars that teach him that are a tow truck by the name of Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), an old racecar Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), and a sexy Porsche by the name of Sally Carrera (Bonnie Hunt). These are cars who Lightning would have never even thought of hanging out with in the big city, but here they help him get through life. It’s not a very original idea, but it works, because we are talking about cars here and that uniqueness might make up for the plot’s predictability.
The voicework here is alright although some of it is questionable. Both Owen Wilson and Bonnie Hunt sound way too much like themselves, which takes away from their characters. I think Owen Wilson was a mistake to cast anyway, because his childish, high-pitched squeal is enough make me want to make me want to turn into Riddick and pop a few arteries. Bonnie Hunt is just plain bad and sounds wrong all the time. Sometimes she’s too sincere and when she tries to talk sexy it comes out as forced. Everyone else though sounds great. Paul Newman fits right in and so does Larry the Cable Guy who sounds a lot like a tow truck would. But the best voice is veteran Paul Dooley’s as Sarge. It brings back a sense of nostalgia and assures the viewer in a gruff way of how good Paul Dooley is as an actor. Plus he’s funny.
The animation here is amazing, and it’s undoubtedly the best animation of all the animated films to come out this year. The Pixar guys have also included some references to past movies including Finding Nemo, Toy Story, and even movies that aren’t their own. It’s a challenge to spot all the references and in-jokes, but I know I saw something about Buzz Lightyear numerous times. The cars looks great and are complete with shadows and reflections, plus rust if they’re old. Also Doc Hudson’s chassis is just great.
yes, there are eventual positives to the humanization of the characters, because after a while you almost don’t look at them as cars anymore and that makes it easier to connect to the characters. Still, it would have been a lot better if Pixar made totally original car references instead of comparisons to human beings. Now that would have been risky. As it is now though, there is nothing special here (other than the animation) that makes cars stand-out and be better than other recent animated films like Over the Hedge or Ice Age: The Meltdown. So, while I do give this movie a weak recommendation, it’s only because a DVD would not do its great look justice, but it’s actually only worthy of a DVD rental.