Film: Cars (2006)

Cover image


Director: John Lasseter
Distributor: Walt Disney Video

From the acclaimed creators of Toy Story, The Incredibles, and Finding Nemo comes a high-octane adventure comedy that shows life is about the journey, not the finish line. Hotshot rookie race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is living life in the fast lane until he hits a detour on his way to the most important race of his life. Stranded in Radiator Springs, a forgotten town on the old Route 66, he meets Sally, Mater, Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), and a variety of quirky characters who help him discover that there’s more to life than trophies and fame. Revved up with a sensational soundtrack, featuring Rascal Flatts, Sheryl Crow, John Mayer, James Taylor, and others, plus exciting bonus features, including the exclusive short movie “Mater And The Ghostlight,” Cars is full of freewheeling fun for everyone.


There’s an extra coat of hot wax on Pixar’s vibrant, NASCAR-influenced comedy about a world populated entirely by cars. Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) is the slick rookie taking the Piston Cup series by storm when the last race of the season (the film’s high-octane opening) ends in a three-way tie. On the way to the tie-breaker race in California, Lightning loses his way off Route 66 in the Southwest desert and is taught to stop and smell the roses by the forgotten citizens of Radiator Springs. It’s odd to have such a slim story from the whizzes of Pixar, and the film pales a bit from their other films (though can that be a fair comparison?). Nonetheless, Cars is another gleaming ride with Pixar founder John Lasseter, who’s directing for the first time since Toy Story 2. There’s the usual spectrum of excellent characters teamed with appropriate voice talent, loads of smooth humor for kids and parents alike, knockout visuals, and a colorful array of sidekicks, including a scene-stealing baby blue forklift named Guido. Lightning’s plight is changed with the help of former big-city lawyer Sally Carrera (Pixar veteran Bonnie Hunt), the town’s patriarch Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), and kooky tow truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy). The Incredibles was the first Pixar film to break the 100-minute barrier, but had enough story not to suffer; Cars, at 116 minutes (including some must-see end credit footage), is not as fortunate, plus it never pierces the heart. Trivia fans should have bonanza with the frame-by-frame DVD function; the movie is stuffed with in-jokes, some appearing only for an instant. Ages 5 and up. —Doug Thomas

Barnes and Noble

In a world populated solely by automobiles, cocky rookie racecar Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is nobody's love bug. He doesn't give his hardworking crew any credit, and he is looking to upgrade from his loyal but decidedly less upscale sponsor for something flashier. After qualifying for the Piston Cup championship against reigning champion the King (NASCAR legend Richard Petty) and upstart Chick Hicks (Michael Keaton), the self-absorbed McQueen is abandoned by his unappreciated crew. En route to California for the big race, fate throws McQueen a detour. He is left stranded in Radiator Springs, a southwest desert town along Route 66 that time forgot when the interstate opened up. Here, McQueen will get an attitude change as he bonds with the town's colorful residents, including Sally (Bonnie Hunt), a Porsche who left the fast lane, and Doc (Paul Newman), a Hudson Hornet with a secret checkered flag in his past. Pixar is enjoying an artistic run that rivals Disney's first generation of animated classics, and Cars continues its winning track record. Pixar co-founder John Lasseter is behind the wheel for the first time since Toy Story 2. The visuals, particularly the desert landscapes, are breathtaking, and the amusing characters will no doubt grace future spin-offs. They include the affable Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), a tow truck with a mischievous penchant for tractor-tipping; the spaced-out Filmore (George Carlin), a '60s-era VW bus who blasts Hendrix; Ferrari aficionado Luigi (Tony Shalhoub), proprietor of the "Home of the Leaning Tower of Tires"; and low rider Ramone (Cheech Marin), who performs paint jobs. At nearly two hours, Cars is deliberately paced, but captivated viewers won't be impatient enough to ask, "Are we there yet?" A winning formula of humor and heart helps keep Cars from running out of gas. A flashback of bustling life in Radiator Springs in its Route 66 heyday is as moving as "When Somebody Loved Me" from Toy Story 2. This DVD is not as tricked out as past Pixar titles, but it gets some extra mileage with several high-octane extras, including the delightful Oscar-nominated theatrical short, "One Man Band," an amusing new Pixar cartoon, "Mater and the Ghostlight," deleted scenes, and a featurette about Lasseter's lifelong fascination with cars. Donald Liebenson

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