Friday, June 9, 2006


Everyone else stop making animated films because Pixar has cornered the market. With Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and now Cars Pixar is dominating the genre in such a way that if it can continue will rival that of Disney’s golden age (no surprise why Mickey dipped into his deep pockets to bring Pixar under the Disney banner).

Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is the young hot shot can’t miss next big thing in racing with an ego to match. In a three way tie for first place with the retiring champ The King (Richard Petty) and rival upstart Chick “Thunder” Hicks (Michael Keaton), McQueen is just days away from the biggest race of his life which will bring him the fame and glory he so deeply covets. However he gets lost on the way to California and ends up in the sleepy small town of Radiator Springs where he is spooked into accidently causing damage that he is ordered to repair by Judge Doc Hudson (Paul Newman).

As McQueen complains and sees his chance at greatness slowly slipping away he learns to appreciate and connect with the members of the small town including the local D.A. Sally Carrera (Bonnie Hunt), the junkyard pick-up Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), the Ferrari crazed Luigi (Tony Shaloub) and Guido (Guido Quaroni), the stuck in the 60’s VW bus Filmore (George Carlin) and slowly starts to learn that maybe money and fame aren’t the only things worth caring about.

If the plot of the movie sounds familiar you probably saw the 1991 Michael J. Fox romantic comedy Doc Hollywood which bears a striking resemblance to this story. The story carries a message about small towns and the speed of big city life but is patient and doesn’t hit you over the head with it. Much like the small town charm of Radiator Springs itself Cars just wins you over the longer you stay.

The animation is just jaw-dropping amazing. The level of detail needed to do a film filled with metal characters is high (think Robots but done twice as good with characters and a story worth caring about). The race scenes of the stadium filled with cars, lights, action, movement, reflection, are so spectacular you won’t believe your eyes. And slyly while that’s happening the heart of the film will win you over completely.

Every choice made here is the right one from the choice of announcers - Darrell Cartrip (Darrell Waltrip) and Bob Cutlass (Bob Costas), to the voice of McQueen’s agent Harv (Jeremy Piven), to the perfect casting of the look of late night host Jay Limo (Jay Leno). All of that and I haven’t even touched on the great performances from the likes of Richard Kind, Cheech Marin, John Ratzenberger, and many others.

Some movies are just a joy to watch. From begining to end Cars belongs on that list. If there’s one film that’s worth taking the entire family to see for the pure enjoyment of what summer movies can be it’s this one. Hop in your car and drive on down because this might just be the most fun you’ll have all summer long.

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