Top critical review
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Strange, odd, weird but just about works...
on 9 October 2006
I can't think of an animated film where inanimate objects or animals populating a humanlike world really works (Shark Tale, Chicken Little, Robots to name but a few) and I have to say the same is true of Pixar's Cars.
On the plus side, the computer animation is jaw-droppingly good, especially the backgrounds and scenery. The characters are typical Pixar - slightly stereotypical but endowed with enough individual character to be believable. And the story is a cracker, with more than a whiff of Toy Story, with the main character Lightning McQueen as a kind of Woody/Buzz hybrid of Buzz's coolness and misplaced self-confidence combined with Woody's neuroses and desire to be loved.
Kids will love it. There is loads of slapstick, one-liners and a few schoolboy innuendos which probably resulted in the PG cert. (I can't really see any other reason for it.) Unlike other Pixar films, however, there isn't so much of the split-level enjoyment for adults - it looks like the moral of the story and the nostalgia provide the entertainment for grown-ups! Ultimately it doesn't have the crash-bang-wallop action of the Incredibles or Toy Story 2, but is more sedate and character-driven in the mood of Finding Nemo.
I don't think I am really the target audience of a slice of classic Americana like this (although I do know a thing or two about stock car racing, which helps a lot when watching) but I just couldn't get the whole car-as-human thing to make sense. Cars don't have fingers or thumbs, so how could they handle tools, or build houses/oil cans/tyres/advertising hoardings etc? Who fixes their TVs? And what exactly are Lightning McQueen and Sally going to do when they get to their motel room?!
But then again I am probably reading too much into this!
Cars is great family entertainment - Mater the tow truck is a brilliant character and the tractor-tipping scene stands out as hilarious, while the feel-good story line and flawed characters coming good in the end provide staple Pixar warm fuzzy feelings. Not their best, but well worth a look.