Cars Review
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I seem to have a “very special” relationship with the Pixar animation studios. Every new movie they put out becomes my new favorite. I used to think they couldn’t do any better than Toy Story 2 (and yes, the sequel was better—and funnier—than the original). But then they came out with Monsters, Inc. That was my favorite until Finding Nemo…which was my favorite until The Incredibles, and…you get the picture.

The thing is, Disney/Pixar films always manage to strike the perfect blend of eye-popping animation, memorable characters, and humor. And their newest summer blockbuster, Cars, is no exception.

Cars is the story of a hotshot race car named Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), who gets lost on the way to the biggest race of his career in California. He finds himself in a one-road town on Route 66 called Radiator Springs. At first, he can’t think of anything other than getting to California in time for the race. However, he slowly gets to know the other cars of Radiator Springs, and he realizes that even though they’re completely different from the glitzy cars he’s used to, they’re still pretty decent folks.

I haven’t been this wowed by computer animation since Finding Nemo. The animation in this film just blew me away. The artists tackle the unenviable task of creating cars with human personalities, and they succeed completely. Throw in the backgrounds of the NASCAR tracks, the town of Radiator Springs, and the scenery of a gaping canyon, and it’s easy to forget that you’re not looking at real landscapes.

The humor in this film is top-notch, with most of the hysterical lines credited to a rusty Radiator Springs pickup truck named Mater (“as in to-mater”), voiced by Larry the Cable Guy. The movie pokes gentle fun at life in both the fast lane and in small towns. A gang of zany yet well-developed characters round out the Cars gang, with big-name voice talents like Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Tony Shalhoub, Michael Keaton, and Cheech Marin.

I really recommend getting to the theatre early enough to catch the pre-show animated short. It’s one of the most entertaining ones Pixar has put out to date. And be sure to stick around for the credits at the end, especially if you’re a fan of Pixar’s past films—there are some very, very funny “inside joke” moments, just waiting to reward the viewers patient enough to wait for them.

My only complaint is that around the middle of the movie, the action slows down for a few longer, quieter scenes. And the film is slightly longer than your standard kid fare, clocking in at almost a full two hours. As an adult, neither of these things bothered me, but some of the natives under the age of 8 seemed to be getting restless. So if you’re an adult who’s bothered by distracted kids, you might want to check out a later showtime. And parents, if your kids have trouble sitting still for long periods of time, you may want to wait for the DVD.

So, is Cars my new favorite Pixar flick? It’s hard to say. I enjoyed it immensely, but I haven’t quite decided if it’s better than The Incredibles or Nemo. I’d have to see it again. But I will say this—it’s definitely a contender.

  
 

Blu-ray 3D Review (by Kristin Dreyer Kramer):
Pixar’s Cars movies are probably the studio’s most widely derided. Some say Cars was too slow and boring. Some say Cars 2 was too wacky. But, no matter how you feel about these two films on four wheels, one thing is clear: both are still strikingly beautiful. And 2006’s Cars gets new life (and depth) on the small screen with the new three-disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray 3D release.

In addition to some gorgeous 3D graphics, the collection also includes a feature-filled Blu-ray disc. Extras include a pair of shorts: Mater and the Ghostlight and One Man Band, along with a cute Cars tribute to a classic Pixar short in another extra, Boundin’ Cars.

If you’d like to learn more about process of bringing Cars to life, you’ll also find a number of making-of features, including The Inspiration for Cars and a six-part series of documentary shorts, which cover everything from set and character design to the detailed, carefully-researched animation. These features show not only the hard work and dedication that went into the project but also the labor of love that the film represented for director and Pixar patriarch John Lasseter.

Or, if you’re just looking for some Cars-themed fun, you can watch the movie while playing the Carfinder game, which requires you to look for specific cars or match car images.

Overall, the 3D release of Cars is much like the film itself: charming and a little bit sleepy. The 3D graphics are stunning, and the extras are worth a look (and they could very well inspire you to plan a Route 66 road trip of your own), but they aren’t necessarily must-sees.

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