Set in a world of anthropomorphic cars, Pixar’s 2006 feature Cars is about an arrogant, rookie racing car called Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and his quest to win the ‘Piston Cup’. On his way to a final showdown in
he ends up trapped in a backward
town on Route 66 where he is forced by the locals to repair the road which he
ripped up while trying to escape from the police. While in town he gets to know
some of the local cars and helps them to rediscover their former glory before
embarking once again to LA for the final race.
I’ve now seen every Pixar film except Cars 2. I think the Toy Story trilogy is amongst the greatest in the history of cinema, I love Finding Nemo and Wall-E is one of my favourite films. In my opinion Cars is the weakest film that Pixar has produced so far. It isn’t a bad film but compared to Pixar’s back catalogue it’s a bit weak.
On the plus side, the anthropomorphised world that the film creates is strangely believable and the film makers manage to get a lot of expression and emotion via a clever use of windscreens as eyes. The whole design of the film and the animation is unsurprisingly excellent. In particular I really liked the 1950’s look and design of Radiator Springs. The film isn’t as funny as some Pixar features but there are some very funny moments and ideas. I loved that the 1960’s Hippie VW Camper and US Army Jeep were neighbours. It felt like there was a sitcom in that idea. I also thought that the idea to use tractors in place of cows was very funny and clever. The film also contains a nice message about the nature of modern motoring and its impact on the environment and small communities.
On the downside, I thought that it was far too long. It is 117 minutes which is far too long to keep children (and me) interested in a film of this quality. Up was only 96 minutes long, A Bug’s Life 95 and Toy Story only 81 minutes. It seems shorter is better in the world of Pixar. The idea to use cars instead of humans was nice but the story wasn’t up to scratch. At the end of the day it’s a pretty traditional boy meets girl and changes his outlook story. Finally I thought that some of the characters were a bit stereotypical and that’s a bit lazy of Pixar.
One of the best parts of the film came over the closing credits when the characters were at a drive in cinema and watched clips of Pixar films whose characters were cars. These included Toy Car Story, Monster Trucks Inc and A Bug’s Life (featuring a VW Bug) and they were really funny.
Overall, the film is below the standard I’ve become accustomed to from Pixar but it is still funny and enjoyable at times. It is far too long and lacks a little imagination on occasion but is a solid family animation.