Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pixar Feature Film #8: Cars

8. Cars (2006)

Director: John Lasseter

Starring: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, George Carlin, Cheech Marin, Richard Petty, Michael Keaton

Alright, so Cars is a guilty pleasure of mine. Some would make the argument that this was Pixar's first stumble. It received by far the worst reviews out of any of the Pixar films…75% on the tomatometer, which was still good enough to be considered "Certified Fresh." I think it got a bad rap because it came after The Incredibles and Finding Nemo. Or maybe it's because it's Pixar's shill film; the merchandising alone topped $5 billion. The writing is weak (it directly rips off Doc Hollywood,) the musical score is kind of blah, and the voice acting (with the very notable exception of Paul Newman) is mediocre at best. I mean, Owen Wilson and Larry The Cable Guy were total duds. That Mater character really grated on my nerves by the end. I realize he's the comic relief here, but when you start comparing the character to Jar Jar Binks, that's when you know they way overdid it. And Holy God is this one long! 116 minutes is a real stretch for an animated feature when most kids these days have ADHD. The technology, however, advanced rapidly, as the computers used were 40 times faster than those used in The Incredibles, and 1000 times faster than those used in Toy Story.

I guess for me it has that children's literature charm to it. While it wasn't terribly insightful or original (Lightning McQueen learns some easy lessons, like winning isn't everything, nobody is poor who has friends, etc,) it was a lot of fun to watch. The bygone town on U.S. 66 setting was very appealing to me and well done.

Cars won the Annie, PGA Award, Saturn Award, and Golden Globe, for Best Animated Feature, but lost the Oscar to Crappy Feet, which was highway robbery (pun most certainly intended.) One more glaring example of the Academy being out of sync with the rest of the world! Grammy winner "Our Town" was also nominated for Best Music, Original Song. Cars was also the last film to involve Pixar stalwart Joe Ranft. It earned a comparatively modest $461,982,881 at the box office, Pixar's 3rd lowest total.

Cars 2 looks like a bit of a shitshow. Lightning and Mater involved in international espionage? How is that going to work? But, to be fair, when I first heard about Ratatouille, my reaction was something like "A cooking rat!? Fuck! Come on!"

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