For more than a decade, Pixar animation was the studio that could do no wrong. Each concept was more original than the last, from toys that come to life to the monsters hiding under your bed to a world under the sea, Pixar’s concepts, visuals and storytellings were light years ahead of anything else out there. They never had a serious competitor, in fact, until Dreamworks launched the Shrek series in 2001.
But everything comes to an end one day.
This past summer, Pixar released another big-budget, high-concept computer-generated film. The concept behind Cars of a car-centric world that centered within the sport of Nascar racing was questioned by fans from the get-go. Was this too limited an appeal base for fans of the prior films? Well, Nascar is one of the biggest sports in the world. Would it be too difficult to identify with an inanimate object as opposed to a living animal or human such as past films like Bug’s Life or Incredibles? Pixar can make you love anything, right?
Although Cars was generally well-received and still better than most of the competition, it was a far cry from Pixar’s best work, quickly finding its spot as the least favorite Pixar film, even when judged by die-hard fans. With a domestic take of nearly $250 million, Cars was far from a financial disappointment, although those numbers were well below expectations.
It’s still got the terrific visuals, which Pixar can do better than anyone else. It’s still got some laughs and a few clever characters. A few sequences are pretty clever, but there isn’t enough.
So what went wrong? Quite simply, Cars just isn’t that great of a film. The characters aren’t as identifiable or memorable as any of the others. The dialogue and script just isn’t up to snuff. Seriously, how many times can I hear Owen Wilson say, “I’m Lighting McQueen!” The film is far too long, with a middle section that, although it may contain some cute references to retro 50’s diners and tailfins, is just far too long, dragging the film down and losing the kids’ attention.
Sure, kids still like anything and will be entertained enough, but does this have the beloved repeatability of Nemo or Incredibles? That answer can best be summed up by my girlfriend’s four-year-old nephew. Having already bought the toys weeks before seeing the film, young Jonathan stared at the film in a stupor when it was released in July. Upon theater exit, when mom asked what he thought of the movie, he responded, “What movie?” before asking to watch Finding Nemo again on the ride home.
Reelz.com Score: 6
What’s On the Disc
”Mater and the Ghostlight” is an animated short featuring the Cars characters and running about seven minutes. Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) is running around town scaring the characters from the film until he and the others are told the camp side story of “The Ghostlight” by Doc Hudson. Strangely enough, it doesn’t sound like Paul Newman voiced Hudson for this segment.
”One Man Band” is a short film about a little girl named Tippy who encounters two street musicians competing for her money.
”Inspiration For Cars” is a 16-minute documentary on the inspiration and preparation for making Cars. It features interviews with Pixar head John Lasseter as well as others behind the Pixar magic.
Finally, we have a pretty extensive collection of deleted scenes. There are four sequences in all totaling up at about ten and a half minutes of previously unseen footage.