Cars

| June 10, 2006

For so many reasons, it is such a pleasant experience to see a PIXAR film. Great visuals top the list. There is also character development. And a cute, though predictable, story with a positive message if you want to bring the kids. The music is good and melds with the visuals in a very positive way. Even if you don’t laugh out loud as much as the kids, you will certainly find many things that will amuse and make you smile.
Yes, I had a very nice experience at the movies last evening for the opening of CARS, and no matter what your taste in movies, I think you will, too.
In a world populated by vehicles, CARS is the story of Lightning McQueen, a stock-car racer who has a chance to be the first rookie to win the Piston Cup. On his way to the big race, he breaks the speeding laws and does a lot of damage to the little down on its luck town of Radiator Springs, and is sentenced to the community service of fixing their main road. In his time in the town, McQueen makes his first friends–the residents of the forgotten town–and predictably learns that even if you are the most successful person in your field, you still need friends to enjoy it with. Plot wise, the best movie I heard of to compare it to was Doc Hollywood.
The voice over work is great. McQueen is voiced by Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers, Starsky and Hutch). His love interest becomes a hot little Porsche with some detailing on her back fin (“might as well be a target”) named Sally Carrera and is voiced by Bonnie Hunt. This is her third Pixar film (Monsters, Inc, A Bug’s Life). Also making multiple appearance in Pixar films are John Ratzenberger and Guido Quaroni (Monsters Inc) and Joe Ranft (The Incredibles, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, Toy Story 1 and 2, A Bugs Life). There is a dedication at the end of the movie to Ranft who died during production in a car accident. Also at the end of the movie–never leave until the credits are finished in a Pixar movie–is a tribute to Ratzenberger who has worked on 7 Pixar films (Monsters, Inc, Toy Story 1 and 2, A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles).
Larry the Cable Guy, who’s name sounds like an animated character, voices Tom Mater, a rusty tow truck who becomes McQueen’s best friend. It must have been in his contract, because Larry gets to utter his two tag lines of “git ‘er done” and “that there is funny no matter who you are” which I thought was totally out of place and an unnecessary ego shot by the actor. George Carlin reached back to his Hippy Dippy Weatherman days voicing a 60’s VW microvan who thinks that the yellow light in the middle of town is just a little bit slower every third blink. Paul Newman plays a 1951 automobile that we find out is a past Piston Cup champion. From the moment you find out that little tidbit, you have figured out the rest of the movie and how it will probably end.
There are lots of other familiar voices that make the film fun. Jeremy Piven (the agent Ari Gold in Entourage) plays McQueen’s agent, Bob Costas makes an appearance as a sportscaster, Richard Petty (playing The King along with his wife Lynda as Mrs. The King), Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Schumacher play race cars and Jay Leno plays himself.
After seeing previews for this film for over a year, Cars is finally out. Get in, belt up, turn on the ignition, hit the gas, enjoy the test ride and make the deal to drive it out of the showroom.

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