"Cars" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
If you haven't noticed yet, Pixar loves to give voice to those that don't really have one. From "Toy Story" to "A Bug's Life" to "Monsters Inc.", they want to show a form of humanity found in these otherwise nonhuman objects and creatures. Their 2006 picture "Cars" is no different, with the film revolving around talking cars who operate just like humans do. It is not only a very enjoyable film for both kids and adults, but conveys their underlying messages quite well to all audiences.
The film's main character, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is a world-famous racer, starting as a rookie and working his way to the top all in one year. He believes that he has a very high chance of winning the Piston Cup that year, which will hopefully get him a contract with Dinoco when their racer, The King (Richard Petty), retires. When he is caught in a three-way tie with King and other rival, Chick Hicks (Michael Keaton), they must then travel to California to compete in a race to determine the Piston Cup winner.
On the way to the Los Angeles International Freeway, a freak accident occurs, with Lightning's chauffeur Mack (John Ratzenberger) losing the famous racer. Lightning accidentally tears up the road in a small town on Route 66 called Radiator Springs, getting arrested by the Sheriff (Michael Wallis) and forced to stand trial against Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), a retired racer who keeps his past a secret. Now the cocky racer must fix the road in time to get to California before the race. But, what he doesn't realize is how much he'll change throughout the course of his stay, influenced by his new best friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) and the girl he has a crush on, Sally (Bonnie Hunt).
The idea to make a film based on cars who serve as the humans in their world is sort of odd, but it simply works so well here. They all have such humanistic personalities and traits that after a while, you honestly forget that they're cars. At the same time, the Pixar animators and filmmakers do a fantastic job on the world building here, truly crafting a real-life world that is occupied by talking cars. Whether it is the tongue-in-cheek humor or the inclusion of numerous new brands and landmarks made just for this world, it really immerses the viewer into the film.
At the same time, the actors and actresses here do a great job of embodying their characters. They really give it their all, and now they are hailed as iconic voices with these iconic characters. One of the standouts here is Newman, who easily plays one of the best written characters here. Doc Hudson is a great character, and Newman perfectly gives him life. Wilson is fun as Lightning, and the same can be said for Hunt. They have wonderful chemistry together, and their scenes together are quite enjoyable. However, it is easily Larry the Cable Guy who takes the cake here. He is absolutely hilarious as this redneck, silly character. He easily steals any scene he is in, and he is genuinely the best character in this movie.
At its core though, its messages of relationships being more important than fame and success and the theme of everything being better in the olden days are beautifully incorporated throughout the film. It is sprinkled in then and there, and is able to tell a compelling film that everyone can appreciate while trying to get its point across. The character development of Lightning McQueen is definitely one of the best aspects.
If you have read my reviews for the other Disney and Pixar films, it is no secret that I genuinely love the art styles of their films, and "Cars" is no exception. The animation is absolutely beautiful, and really captures the essence of the film in its art. It's a joy to watch, and really helps transport the viewer into the picture. I'll let the art speak for itself.
While there are genuinely some very good things about this film, there are some aspects that hold it up. I feel like there could have been more than what was presented; there could have been a side problem or a new location or a new reason for why the characters do what they do. Just adding in a couple more themes or elements could have really elevated this story beyond what is presented.
"Cars" really doesn't get the recognition it deserves. It's a very fun film with some incredibly enjoyable characters. Disney has built this world of Radiator Springs at Disneyland in Anaheim, and it immerses you into the world seamlessly. It owes its success to the story that inspired the land, which was able to not only build this massive world in an hour and a half, but to tell a compelling story of friendships and how love can affect one person.