UK release date: 28 July 2006

cast list

Owen Wilson
Paul Newman
Bonnie Hunt
Larry the Cable Guy
Cheech Marin

directed by
John Lasseter
Joe Ranft
Fish, toys, monsters, superheroes, even bugs, Pixar have managedto turn them all into cute, comical characters for kids to adore. In thepast 11 years they have become the most consistently successful companyworking in Hollywood. Their films have made almost US$2 billion between themso expectations are always high for their latest. This time they have thehardest task – cuddlifying Cars.

Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is the hot-headed rookie who thinks hecan win all of his races without help from anyone. His main goal is to winthe much coveted Piston Cup, But after a three-way victory he must travel toCalifornia to face a rematch with his two biggest competitors. Fate howeverworks against him and he gets lost in a small town in the middle ofnowhere.

He causes mayhem and destroys their road, leading the locals to force himto clean up his mess before he can leave. Lightning initially hates hissentence but soon finds companionship and surprises amongst his new foundcommunity.

It’s becoming a predictable compliment to give a Pixar movie, but withevery new offering its something which cannot be ignored. The animation inCars is magnificent. The makers have created an entire landscape which attimes would easily be confused with reality. At first it seems impossible toimprint various characters onto cars but yet again a wide variety oflikeable, albeit familiar, characters are created and make animpression.

Owen Wilson leads the voice cast as Lightning and it’s the skill of aPixar movie that they never throw all their money at lots of big stars asDreamworks have. For the core audience a star cast isn’t much of a sellingpoint and also it tends to pull the viewer outside of the world the film hascreated. So other than Wilson its only Paul Newman who most will recogniseand both manage to do decent jobs of keeping within their characters withoutshowboating.

Its clear when the formula is finally set down where we will end up -redemption anyone? – but the journey is witty and charming all the way. WhatCars doesn’t really manage to do, and this is what the truly great genrecounterparts do, is provide the emotion to back up the dazzling animation onoffer. While I did want to see Lightning succeed in finding whatever it wasthat he needed, I never wanted him triumph as much as I wanted, for example,Nemo to be found.

A problem, given the target audience, was the two hour length of the film.90 minutes is perfect for a movie targeted towards young children and thereare some lags in pace throughout. Another issue, especially with the formulaused, is a lack of a villain. While some of the townsfolk are slightlyantagonistic there’s never a real threat of anything that bad happening toLightning. Okay so he’s initially rushed to get to the big race but the timeissue never really seems to be that tense. It just makes for a lack ofconflict.

As with Over The Hedge, Cars has a rather hippyish sentiment withits critique on how the freeways destroyed the lure of the small town inAmerica. Its ironic that Disney, one of the biggest corporations in theworld funded it but still it’s an interesting message. Cars is a hugelylikeable film which does have its flaws but remains another memorableoffering from the always reliable Pixar stable. Can they put a foot wrong?Well their next film Ratatouille has the unenviable task of makingvegetables loveable so watch this space.

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