Starring: Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Paul Newman
Director: John Lasseter
Running Time: 116 mins
Cars is an American film following superstar rookie racecar Lightning McQueen who, on the way to the historic Piston Cup final, finds himself in the small desert town of Radiator Springs, and begins to see the world differently from that on the racetrack.
Without a doubt, Cars doesn’t stand up in comparison to Pixar’s greatest films of the early 2000s and late 90s. That said, it’s a delightful family film throughout, with great humour and heart, and even though it doesn’t provide the most emotionally enthralling watch, Pixar’s beautiful animation and the A-list voice cast will have you thoroughly entertained from start to finish.
Let’s start with the best part about Cars, which is the animation. Whenever the film doesn’t manage to wow you with its story, you’ll definitely be stunned by the way it looks. Stepping up another level from its previous efforts, Pixar do an amazing job to provide some jaw-dropping panoramas of the desert landscape, whilst also capturing a vibrant 1950s Motown feel with its bright use of neon throughout.
Another vibrant part of the film is the voice cast. Owen Wilson is great fun in the main role, but with excellent supporting performances by Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, Tony Shalhoub and Paul Newman no less, you get a great diversity of characters in this film, which adds hugely to the heart and entertainment value.
The story is the only issue that I really have with this film. In general, it still has a lot of good points, but the fact that it follows a far more generic ‘riches to rags to riches’ narrative, and doesn’t showcase Pixar’s incredible ability to pull off original stories, is frustrating to see. It’s not a dull watch by any means, but it’s a story well below Pixar’s high standards, and is never as enthralling as it should be.
That said, this film does still have a lot of heart to it. It’s nowhere near as soulless as some of the worst kids’ movies, as I had a huge smile on my face from the beginning to the end of Cars. Lightning McQueen’s development is handled nicely, and is emphasised in a couple of beautiful sequences later on in the film, but it’s the happy and intimate friendships between the residents of Radiator Springs that made me smile so much.
Even when Lightning initially arrives on the scene as an arrogant racer, the way that the various cars in Radiator Springs keep together as they attempt to salvage what has become a ghost town was delightful to see, and brought across a happy, positive message about teamwork and friendships.
Overall, I liked Cars a lot. It may not come anywhere near Pixar’s greatest efforts, due mostly to its more generic story, but it’s still a really entertaining, pleasant and funny family film, complete with great voice performances and typically stunning animation, and that’s why it gets a 7.7 from me.