Pixar have managed to create animated movies that stay ahead of the curve. They have always been a step-ahead of the multiple animated releases which have cute furry animals learning lessons in “funny” adventures. Their films are never predictable and their stories always original.
Which is why Cars is such a misnomer. This is a predictable film with a very clear and unoriginal message. The story goes through the motions in such an average way that it is clear where the plot is heading and how the principle character will “learn his lesson.” It feels as if Pixar chose to go down the “ordinary” route to test themselves and see if they could still present a decent film in the same style that everyone else does. Surprisingly, the answer is yes.
As ordinary as the plot is, it is the packaging and delivery of that story which still places Pixar above all others. The characters are cars. The world is populated with anthropomorphic vehicles and the world around them then suits this vision. Pixar have always been the best at creating worlds to suit their characters, from Monstropolis to the inside of a little girl’s head for Inside Out. Cars is no different and there are plenty of unique little touches which bring this world to life.
Being Cars, it means that there is a range of different characters, usually set around the type of car. Our hero, Lightening McQueen is a Nascar racer and a cocky, arrogant one at that. It is his story we follow as he gets stranded in a small, backward town called Radiator Springs. This is where Pixar populates the screen with their unrivalled imagination. From the love interest Sally (a Porsche naturally), through to the hippy character embodied by a VW Camper Van who is judged by the military vet, brought to life by an old Land Rover. It is these attentions to detail which means that the movie retains the charm if not the originality.
It also helps that it has a very able voice cast. Owen Wilson fits the role of McQueen perfectly and his cocky arrogance slowly giving way to humble acceptance is portrayed well in his voice. A particular coup is Doc Hudson, the town judge, voiced by Paul Newman. His gruff tones add credibility to a predictable role and heart to a back-story which has been done many times before.
The real winner though is the tow-truck character of Mater. Played by Larry the Cable Guy, he is the character which stands-out and in some key scenes saves the movie from the average animation it should be. He gets some of the best comedy lines as well as some of the more heartfelt moments that Pixar have become known for.
This isn’t enough though and Cars doesn’t quite hold enough of the Pixar magic. It is a cut above the other animated films of this ilk but this is the most predictable and “ordinary” movie that Pixar had released so far and certainly miles away from the triumphs of Toy Story, Finding Nemo or The Incredibles.
Overall, Cars is Pixar at it’s most average but even then they still manage to create a film which is charming and heartfelt. They build a world with character to itself and design characters who have their own unique elements to bring to the story. It may have been done many times before but Pixar still do it better than any other.
Rating – 3.5
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