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Cars (G)

Release Date: June 9th, 2006 by Walt Disney Pictures.
The Voices: Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Larry The Cable Guy, Cheech Marin, Tony Shalhoub, Guido Quaroni, Jenifer Lewis, Paul Dooley, George Carlin, Katherine Helmond, John Ratzenberger, Michael Keaton.
Directed by John Lasseter.

BASIC PREMISE: On his way to an important race, Lightning McQueen (Wilson), a famous racecar, accidentally ends up in a small town called Radiator Springs.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: As a comeback for Pixar Animation Studios, Cars doesn’t have much of the humor and refreshing quality found in the earlier films such as The Incredibles, Finding Nemo. The simple plot never really gathers any momentum except during the brief racing sequences in the first and third acts. During the lengthy, redundant second act, Lightning McQueen spends its time getting to know small town cars in Radiator Springs. McQueen quickly befriends Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), a quirky, rusty tow truck, as well as Sally Carrera (Hunt), a potential love interest. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to anthropomorphize these cars as much as director/co-writer John Lasseter intends you to. Their colors are different and distinguishable, but their “personality” lacks simply warmth and charisma—even McQueen comes off as a bit dull and mechanic rather than organic. A subplot regarding Doc Hudson (Newman), an old car, feels too contrived. On a positive note, the brief moments of physical humor come from flies shaped as cars, Mater, and Luigi (Shalhoub), a tire-shop owner—also a car. Also, it’s also worth mentioning the superb CGI animation which makes everything look very lifelike and entertaining just to look at. Make sure to stay through the hilarious end credits for additional scenes that poke fun at previous Pixar films. If only the rest of the film were just as hilarious. SPIRITUAL VALUE: Other than the messages about the importance of true friends and the value of small town life, none is required or desired.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: The second act drags.


IN A NUTSHELL: Superb animation, but not nearly enough humor and liveliness.


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