Cars review by The Grim Ringler

Leave it to Pixar to get me all excited about summer movies again. I hadn’t really gotten out to see any of the ‘blockbusters’ (which seems funny to call a movie a blockbuster before it’s even AT the ‘blocks’, but whatever) that have popped up this season, as they just didn’t speak to me. I am sure that there are some that may well be fun and exciting movies, but generally, I wasn’t interested. Personally though, I have been a huge fan of the Pixar movies since Toy Story. Maybe because I adore animated films but have rarely felt they really spoke to me. Most animated films seemed as if children were the only audiences they were made for, which is fine, but which tends to limit the depth of the story. Somehow though the Pixar movies have all really connected with me. Blending timeless messages of friendship, respect, honor, and believing in yourself with a very wry sense of humor, the company has created a formula for success that is all about making good movies everyone can like

Lightning McQueen is in the race of his life. A rookie car on the tough Piston Cup circuit, he is in a position to win the race, the cup, and a very lucrative sponsorship contract. He tempts fate though and doesn’t change his tires on a pit stop, the move that gains him his lead, but this also costs him the win when two tires blow out on him. By sheer will alone he manages a three-way tie with two other racers – the reigning champion and a car willing to do anything to win, even cheat. The race is called as a tie and the three cars are sent off to California for a deciding race that will happen the next Friday. McQueen, full of himself and drunk on his own hype, heads off with Mack, his car-carrier to California and what he believes will be his glory. Unfortunately for him, things don’t work out that way and he ends up, sans Mack, in a small town just off of Route 66 where he has had a run-in with the police and the towns-cars (yes, that’s me being clever). Sentenced to fix a road he tore up after believing the local police car was shooting at him during a high-speed pursuit, Lightning reluctantly sets about fixing the road. As the locals try to get to know him, Lightning does everything possible to push them away, his sole ambition being to get to California and to his glory. In the process of fixing the road though, he starts to get to know the local tow truck, and slowly starts to care about the town and its inhabitants. The town had once been a jewel, a place where traffic flocked and visited on their way down Route 66. After a highway was built though, all of that changed and the town was all but left for dead, despite the fact that there was still life and lives there. Lightning, having spent time with the people and the town is starting to see beyond himself and his own fame, seeing in fact what matters the most. But as great as that is, if he doesn’t get California on time the only changes he’ll be able to make are to himself.

This is the usual Pixar fare in that it’s a very simple tale – someone with a big ego who needs to be knocked down a peg to see the big picture – with a lot of life truths that make it something more. Something special. Beyond Lightning and his ego, you have a story about America in motion. A story about how our culture has a tendency to abandon the past and not cherish it as we race into the future. It’s a story of taking people for who they are and learning to love their quirks. It’s a story about being willing to learn from those around you. And it’s a story of honor that says that there are things far more important than just winning. Sure, you can find these morals in other stories, but it’s a rare occasion that you can have them told so eloquently and in a way that connects with children.

The animation is stunning, but even the film’s detractors will have to admit that. The casting is superb. Heck, if I can like a film with Larry the Cable Guy then that says something. Everyone does their best to create a real person from the automobile they represent. The jokes aim both high and low and work on both levels. The music (and I mean songs here), while not my cup of tea, works for the film and doesn’t detract in the least. And wow, stay through the credits. It’s well worth it.

The movie’s big misstep is that some of the themes are very obvious, and you can guess pretty accurately how things will turn out. The cars also don’t translate as well as say animals do when it comes to creating a connection with them, but this didn’t hurt the film. I still cared about the characters and the story, despite the fact that these were cars.

It may not be as good as some of the previous entries in the Pixar catalog but Cars is a stunning and beautiful film and one that I hope people will take their children to see. This is a rich, fun story with a lot to say and is a true celebration of cars, car culture, and the forgotten paths through America that are all waiting to be re-discovered.


8 out of 10 Jackasses
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