By Vic Holtreman
Short version: As usual, a feast for the eyes and great entertainment for the entire family, although the pace may be a little slow for the younger kids.
I vote here and now that we just take the staff of Pixar and put them in charge of Hollywood. Every movie must come through them, whether it's animated or live action. No I'm not saying that all movies should be rated G... what I'm saying is that all movies should be GOOD. It's incredible to me that these guys are able to make animated cars express more emotion and make you care about the characters more than in some live action films.
I can't imagine what it's like for these guys, after every film the bar is raised higher and they have to got to meet the incredibly high expectations of moviegoers that show up for a Pixar film. Whatever the case, they continue to hit home runs film after film.
I won't be giving any deep plot description here. It's basically about a race car that is young and too full of himself, focused on material success, and his journey to learn what is really important in life.
The animation and backgrounds are, as usual, amazing. Pixar seems to have found this great balance between photorealism and cartoonishness (is that a word?) that looks really great. It's almost a bit disconcerting to see cars that look so real in the way the light plays off them while at the same time they have cute little mouths capable of such subtle expression.
The thing that I enjoyed (as an adult) where the subtle little touches in the film... they managed to insert car designs into everything including the landscape, geology and even the clouds. I also liked the nostalgia for the pre-interstate driving days (What? Are you saying there was a time BEFORE freeways?!?!)
It's a story of redemption for both the lead and for a crusty old classic Chevy. Paul Newman was chosen to portray the old car, which I thought was great, and Owen Wilson worked well as Lightning McQueen (a great nod to big-time car aficionado Steve McQueen, of course).
The supporting cast was really funny as well, and included Tony Shaloub, Cheech Marin and somebody who goes by the name "Larry the Cable Guy", who played the lovable clunker tow truck.
The only thing that kept me from giving this is that I actually think younger kids might get a bit bored by the pace (pardon the pun) in some spots. I think kids a bit older than 4-6 might enjoy it more and certainly any adult who is into cars. Once again Pixar manages to make a film that is funny to both kids and adults without feeling the need to use and double entendres or adult humor "that will go over the kids heads." The family orientation of Pixar even comes across in the credits of each film when the list the "Production Babies": babies born during the creation of the film. Oh, and do stay through the credits since there is some great stuff in there.
Props once again to John Lassiter and crew.