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|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
dir John Lasseter
scr Dan Fogelman, John Lasseter, Joe Ranft, Kiel Murray, Phil Loren, Jorgen Klubien
voices Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Keaton, Larry The Cable Guy, George Carlin, Paul Dooley, Cheech Marin, Tony Shalhoub, Jenifer Lewis, Katherine Helmond, John Ratzenberger
release US 9.Jun.06, UK 28.Jul.06
06/US Disney 2h01
On the track and on the road: Lightning with his competitors ... and with his new friends
Pixar continues its unbroken run of hugely entertaining films with this adventure about an America populated only with cars. The animation is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and the characters are wonderful. But it's kind of odd, really.
Lightning McQueen (Wilson) is a rising star, a sparky red racecar that gets lost on Route 66 on the way to the Piston Cup in California. He gets stuck in Radiator Springs, where he has a run-in with the judge Doc (Newman), gets help from tow truck Mater (Larry) and falls for sexy Porche Sally (Hunt). All of these cars, and others in the dusty, bypassed little town, have surprises in store for the arrogant speedster. And maybe he can teach them a thing or two as well.
Yes, it's basically a wistful ode to the olden days when people took time to enjoy their journeys and help each other out, when there were small roads that rolled with the land rather than interstates that cut through it. The plot is extremely predictable; even the lessons are obvious from the beginning. And then there's the problem of the cars themselves--the entire premise never quite makes sense and feels somehow, well, wrong.
So it helps hugely that the script is sweet and very funny, with extremely vivid characters voiced charmingly by the skilled cast. And the animation is spectacular. The big set pieces are fantastic (the opening crash is astonishing), and the landscape design is magnificent, cleverly working in car details where you least expect them. This attention to detail fills the film, in the colourful images and in the characters themselves.
And it's through this depth of care in the production that the film wins us over and helps us forget how very strange this automotive world is. Witty touches leap off the screen everywhere, and Randy Newman's score includes a number of superb Western tunes. The plot is engaging and brilliantly structured to build to a terrific pay-off. And of course terrific comedy bits running through the closing credits send us chuckling out of the cinema.
|Donna R Carter, Wisconsin: "I don't know about anybody else, but I have been getting a bit burned out with all the animated feature-length films out lately. But I went to watch Cars because the story sounded cute, and it didn't seem like it would be hyperventilating in its attempt to make the audience laugh. What a nice surprise! It was a very cute, film. It was funny, interesting, and it even made a point. It didn't have any extremely scary parts, so even a little tyke would have fun watching it (unless you consider the combine, which could appear scary, but it wasn't so bad either) and hurrah! No potty humor! How nice! It was a happy, fun adventure that left me saying, 'Awwww!' and smiling. Hint: Stay through past all the credits!" (21.Aug.06)
© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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