At some point Pixar is going to make a bad movie. It’s inevitable. No matter how much care and planning goes into insuring that it doesn’t happen, sooner or later the law of averages catches up. John Lassiter and company have been doing features for ten years now and the worst they’ve done has been mediocre (A Bug’s Life). The rest have been really good to classic.

Now I have to admit that when I saw the previews for Cars, I thought that this could be the one that ends the streak. The scenes they picked to tease us with–and one always assumes that they use the best scenes and funniest jokes for the trailers–didn’t look promising. But it turns out they were actually holding out on us for once.

Cars falls into the really good category. Lightning McQueen, voiced by Owen Wilson sans his usual irony, is a hot shot race car on his way to a big event in California. His dream is to win the Piston Cup and get a big time corporate sponsor. He gets lost and winds up in the small desert town of Radiator Springs. Forced to sta for a spell because of a run in with the law, McQueen interacts with locals, an assortment of vehicles voiced by the likes of Larry the Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt, and Paul Newman. Lessons are learned and humility is achieved. Hope I’m not giving anything away.

All of the elements of Pixar’s success are here. Technically, this film is breathtaking. The animation, especially in the race scenes, is stunning, almost photorealistic, and yet the designers never forget that they are in a cartoon world where the laws of physics don’t always apply evenly, especially if there’s a good gag involved. Another element is great stories. This one’s a little predictable, but the script saves it through good dialog and characterization. Robert L. Baird and Dan Fogelman took this simple story and imbued it with nostalgia for a simpler time. Cars appeals to adults and children alike.

The main element of a Pixar film is talent. John Lassiter, who long ago ascended to the highest level of animation godhood, joining the likes of Chuck Jones and Tex Avery, codirected this film. Sadly, the other director, Joe Ranft, one of the greatest gag men in modern animation, died in a car accident while making this movie. It’s a great loss to the still young medium of computer animation.

The vocal talent is top notch too. Wilson is good as the lead, although I wouldn’t have known it was him, if I hadn’t read the credits. Bonnie Hunt excels as a sporty Porsche who left the big time of L.A. to run a motel in this sleepy town. You wouldn’t have thought it, but Larry the Cable Guy gives a nuanced performance as Mater, a rusty pickup truck who’s a little slow on the uptake but has a good heart. And the great Paul Newman can only make you smile as Doc, the town’s Justice of the Peace and mechanic (Actually, a doctor in this world).

At some point Pixar will make a bad film. Fortunately, we haven’t reached that point yet.


0 Responses to “Cars”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

June 2006
« May   Jul »

Recent Comments

theotherebert on Black Panther
Mark Anderson on Black Panther
Chuck Ebert on Roman J. Israel, ESQ
Mark Anderson on Roman J. Israel, ESQ
Thomas Van Horne on Spider-Man: Homecoming

Blog Stats

  • 35,986 hits

%d bloggers like this: