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Overall Rating
3.5

Awesome34.19%
Worth A Look: 11.11%
Average: 27.35%
Pretty Bad: 24.79%
Total Crap: 2.56%

9 reviews, 63 user ratings


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Cars
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Like"
2 stars

As you no doubt know, ´┐ŻCars´┐Ż is the latest effort from Pixar, the people behind such commercial and artistic triumphs as ´┐ŻFinding Nemo,´┐Ż ´┐ŻThe Incredibles´┐Ż and the ´┐ŻToy Story´┐Ż films. These films that have continuously and effortlessly raised the bar of what could be accomplished in an American animated feature in a way that hadn´┐Żt been seen since the early triumphs of Walt Disney himself and as a result, the company is almost a prisoner of their success because of the necessity of exceeding viewer expectations each time out. In the past, they have managed to pull this trick off with startling ease but with ´┐ŻCars,´┐Ż they have stumbled slightly for the first time because it lacks that final burst of inspiration that we have come to expect from them´┐Żat time, it feels less like an authentic Pixar work and more like one of the numerous imitations that have tried to duplicate their success in recent years.

Set in a world populated entirely by automobiles´┐Żimagine a benign and kid-friendly version of Stephen King´┐Żs ´┐ŻMaximum Overdrive´┐Ż´┐Ż´┐ŻCars´┐Ż stars Owen Wilson as brash race car Lightning McQueen, a rookie sensation looking to beat out both friendly veteran The King (Richard Petty) and evil rival Chick Hicks (Michael Keaton) in order to win the coveted Piston Cup, a move that will allow him to score better sponsors and earn tons of money. When the final race of the season results in a three-way tie for the championship between them, a tie-breaking final race is set up for one week later out west. The problem is that Lightning is kind of a self-centered jerk who has so alienated his support team, thanks to his refusal to listen to their advice, that it hardly comes as a surprise when he is accidentally abandoned in the middle of nowhere while in transport to the big race. While trying to catch up with them, Lightning stumbles into the off-the-map town of Radiator Springs and causes enough damage to land him in front of Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), the town´┐Żs crusty mayor (and a 1951 Hudson Hornet, a fact I bring up only because the merest mention of such a vehicle throws my mother into a fit of utter delight) and someone who doesn´┐Żt like race cars in general, doesn´┐Żt like Lightning specifically and sentences him to repair the roadway he wrecked as his community service before he can leave.

Over the next few days, Lightning performs his duty (actually, he spends more time and energy trying to shirk it than he does actually doing it) and begins to get to know the various denizens of the town, including the Ferrari-obsessed Luigi (Tony Shaloub), the organic-fuel-pushing hippie van Fillmore (George Carlin) and hillbilly tractor Mater (Larry the Cable Guy, once again appearing in a role with precious little demonstration of his cable-installing capabilities). Understandably, Lightning is more interested in Sally (Bonnie Hunt), a Porsche who has chosen to live life in the slow lane by running the local motel and trying to reinvigorate a town that has been failing since the end of the glory days of Route 66. Inevitably, the gang, along with some surprising discoveries about Doc´┐Żs mysterious past, begin to inspire Lightning into thinking that things such as friendship, loyalty and teamwork are far more important in the long run than fame, fortune and glory´┐Żall of it just in time for the big final race against the King and Chick.

As you can see, the storyline of ´┐ŻCars´┐Ż is a fairly familiar one´┐Żat times, it feels like a virtual remake of the Michael J. Fox vehicle ´┐ŻDoc Hollywood´┐Ż (and not just because both films introduce the central female character as she is showing off her headlights)´┐Żand you keep waiting for the moment when the story will transcend its familiar trappings and go off on its own inspired way. The problem with ´┐ŻCars´┐Ż is that it never quite makes it to that second level in the way that the other Pixar films did with such seeming ease. Instead, it simply rumbles around and hits all the obvious story points in a way that will hold the interest of very young children and few others. To make matters worse, director John Lasseter (who also directed ´┐ŻA Bug´┐Żs Life´┐Ż and the two ´┐ŻToy Story´┐Ż films) has chosen to take his sweet time in telling the story´┐Żthe film lasts 116 minutes and for the first time that I can recall in a Pixar film, I can see how the film could have been shortened by about 30 minutes, mostly by eliminating some of the less essential supporting characters and the ´┐Żtractor-tipping´┐Ż sequence that cause the story to ramble in the middle section, not to mention a few of the seemingly endless stream of montages, without losing anything in the process.

Considering that Pixar is famous for endlessly massaging their material until everything is just right, the slack storytelling is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of ´┐ŻCars´┐Ż´┐ŻI never would have thought I would come away from one of their films wishing for less´┐Żand I have a theory as to what happened. As you probably know, Pixar has had their films distributed over the years by Disney and for a while, it appeared that the two companies were going to part ways for good for various reasons (in the end, the two eventually reunited in a deal literally worth billions of dollars). At the time this was all going on, ´┐ŻCars,´┐Ż which marked the end of Pixar´┐Żs seven-picture deal with Disney, was going into production and while I have no concrete proof of this, I began to get the sense throughout that when they were unable to come up with a completely satisfying storyline, they decided to simply use it as a painless way of fulfilling their contractual obligations in order to save any of their better ideas for a film in which they would have a bigger stake in its success. As contractual obligations go, it isn´┐Żt as lazy as it could have been but there is the sense that most of the people involved are simply coasting on fumes throughout and banking on the enormous goodwill of the Pixar name to get them past the finish line.

If anyone else had made ´┐ŻCars,´┐Ż I would probably be sitting here right now waxing ecstatic over it. After all, it is visually impressive, funny (and whatever you do, be sure to stick around for the end credits), expertly cast with a group of top-notch actors lending their voices to characters more fully developed than most of the flesh-and-blood people they are usually asked to portray (with Newman stealing the scene with a performance that will remind many older viewers of his work as Judge Roy Bean) and will most likely enchant kids (especially those who have already developed a keen interest in automobiles) while providing the kind of entertainment value for their escorts that was lacking in the likes of ´┐ŻIce Age 2" or ´┐ŻCurious George.´┐Ż However, I just can´┐Żt quite find myself fully endorsing ´┐ŻCars´┐Ż (not that it matters since it will still make a kajillion dollars in theaters and an equal amount on video) because it is, in the end, a lesser effort from a group of people who have proven to us time and again that they are capable of achieving so much more than they have given us this time around. That said, I must also admit that if every career stumble was as otherwise stylish as this one, it would make my job a lot more entertaining in the long run.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14707&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/09/06 15:15:43
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell good not great 4 stars
3/23/15 Jerry Spray zzzzzzzzzzzzz....huh? OH! Did I just sleep through "Cars"? Go figure. 2 stars
10/19/11 Magic The second worst Pixar movie is still a Pixar movie. Nostalgic and gives warm fuzzies. 4 stars
6/15/11 My apples are rotting A tad underrated. Not aclassic but entertaining 4 stars
10/23/09 Rachel This is a favorite in our household. Cute and has a good message. 5 stars
1/14/09 Anonymous. it's cute and funny, like most other animated movies. :] 4 stars
9/14/08 Samantha Pruitt not as good as the other Pixar movies, still kind of funny 4 stars
7/19/08 Shaun Wallner I love this movie, great for the whole family 5 stars
7/06/08 John Millheim the kids loved it, I did too,the animation was great 5 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT DECENT FAMILY FILM 3 stars
1/23/08 Chase My dad and I watched it and we both thought it was hilarious, but had a good plot. 5 stars
1/08/08 Steve Aside from official remakes I've never seen a movie that mirrors another so closely. 3 stars
8/11/07 dragongirl Really cool movie! Good charas, especially Doc was rocks! Well the hero ain't bad either! 5 stars
7/07/07 AnnieG Characters are bad role models for kids - best parts were for the F1 fans 3 stars
5/25/07 sultryHobbit Like my girlfriend: cute, beautiful, but slow and predictable. 3 stars
2/13/07 druggas great movie with a good moral to the story. I watch it every night. 5 stars
2/07/07 Randall J. Paltza There's nothing "cynical" about CARS. If it imitates Doc H, I'm glad I saw CARS instead! 5 stars
2/02/07 bkjohnston Teaching all of us that some things are more important than winning is NOT preachy. 5 stars
1/27/07 David Cohen Still a heck of a lot better than anything Disney is producing these days 3 stars
1/21/07 David A. Cute for kids, but it gets pretty preachy. 2 stars
1/07/07 Stu If the critics want deep, watch usual suspects. This is a kids film my 4 year old loved! 5 stars
1/07/07 xtmedia.net Disappointing for a Pixar,last 20min saves the movie. Seen Doc H, I agree with the comment! 3 stars
12/24/06 Tessa it's ok 3 stars
12/15/06 Lloyd Loved it! Will watch it over and over and over again! 5 stars
12/07/06 Lou Perez Loved it! This movie has a much deeper Story than you think, if you can see it! 5 stars
11/25/06 Dave T. Very clever...after the first viewing. 5 stars
11/22/06 Chris realized 3 days later when thinking about nothing that it reminded me of Doc H-wood 2 stars
11/21/06 Mohammad I think you missed the goal of "Cars." It's a tribute to car-nuts like me - we love it! 5 stars
11/10/06 Charles Tatum Beautiful to look at, but drags...get it, drags?! 4 stars
11/04/06 becky one of the best disney movies yet 5 stars
9/27/06 Cruzia Wonderfull graphic, awesome story, you'll dissappointed by not watching it !!! 5 stars
9/25/06 Lisa Craven Loved the animation and story line. Enjoyable dialogue and characters. 5 stars
9/03/06 Christopher Stucky Eventually, Pixar has to make a bad one. This isn't it yet. 5 stars
8/24/06 Chad Thomas Best animated movie of the year! Classic Pixar. 5 stars
8/18/06 Heather Marie Any requests?!! 5 stars
8/17/06 Pn. A feast for my PC & Pixel soaked brainstem. Will not be as good on second viewing... 5 stars
8/17/06 Mary Beth great animation, enjoyable, surprised at low ratings 4 stars
8/14/06 Sharon yea I took my little 5 year old brother and he hated it! 1 stars
8/06/06 Robyn Awesome Film!!! 5 stars
8/06/06 Erik Van Sant The first 'bad' Pixar film. Even that is better than most of the shit offered this summer. 3 stars
8/05/06 Gaogaigar I was disappointed with this Pixar picture- dozed off somewhere in Radiator Springs! 3 stars
7/26/06 Quigley A good but not great Pixar movie. stunning visuals; and ya gotta love Mater 4 stars
7/10/06 Sarah Love it. Brilliant animation. In opposition to a few blunt ratings, it was incredibly witty 4 stars
7/01/06 Christopher Didn't like the previews but this is a really great movie. Bonnie Hunt's vocals were great. 5 stars
7/01/06 Gerry Irons Boring and Disappointing. Slow story with overly simple charactors and story 3 stars
6/28/06 PAG Solid, but not great, film. Larry The Cable Guy was pretty funny. 3 stars
6/25/06 Mase Sorely lacking something all pixar films had has to this point, a sense of adventure. 3 stars
6/23/06 orpament torture, even with my son 1 stars
6/20/06 Agent Sands Fantastic and substantial. Greatly stimulant of emotions. 5 stars
6/20/06 JLo It was great, better than Gigli, that's for sure! 5 stars
6/19/06 John Aster Habig What the hell is this crap? Since when does scrap metal relate to us as human beings? 1 stars
6/16/06 ES Better than bug's life and moster's inc. 4 stars
6/14/06 tjpeterson AWESOME, don't know these other people watched, son loved it,will be the 1st to buy on DVD! 5 stars
6/13/06 KingNeutron Critics too harsh on this one; I laughed, I cried; looks Awesome. (But I havnt seen Doc H.) 4 stars
6/12/06 bullit16 I would watch any Pixar movie any time. Except this one. 4 stars
6/12/06 ajay loved all the other pixar movies for the great story/characters. this falls *way* short. 2 stars
6/12/06 Pokejedservo Take it as the great old-fashioned storyline as it is. This isn't new age at all... 5 stars
6/12/06 Joe This movie was GREAT! funny, good story, who saw Doc Hollywood anyway? 5 stars
6/11/06 katsat Good but not great. Needed MORE anthropomorphism for audience to relate to. Great visuals. 4 stars
6/11/06 San Lamar it was ok 3 stars
6/11/06 Koitus GREAT intro-short; MUST STAY for the credits. The rest = Eh? Agree with Doc H-Wood cmnts. 3 stars
6/11/06 MickOZ ANAMATION IS FOR KIDS UNDER 10! that said my 5 year old liked it. 5 stars
6/10/06 Adrian I definetely got my hopes way too up. Aside from the visuals, it's totally boring. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  09-Jun-2006 (G)
  DVD: 07-Nov-2006

UK
  28-Jul-2006 (PG)

Australia
  08-Jun-2006 (G)




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