Sunday, April 01, 2007

Cars: Grade B


Cars (2006)

Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Larry the Cable Guy, Cheech Marin, others (as voices). Director John Lasseter.

Animation is the star of this Pixar/Disney movie. Throughout, I marveled at the computing power needed to render the complex reflections and motion effects that made the animated surfaces and movements look so good. In fact the weakest part was the background scenery, which Snow White artists could have done as well. Also, everything was too bright. Even the shadows were bright, which detracted from the realism. The car characters however were near-perfect, despite some anthropomorphic awkwardness involving hands, arms and shoulders (how would a car operate a camera, anyway?) Wilson was perfect in the lead.

The story is typical sentimental claptrap reinforcing normative stereotypes, which is why I find all Disney films so depressing. In this case the themes were that community trumps individualism, simplistic aesthetics are best, cramped, change-resistant, small-minded, small town values are best, all steeped in 60's nostalgia. Still, the voice acting was terrific, the realizations of character in the cars was excellent, and the dialog was genuinely funny, subtle at times, and consistently strong enough to sustain the piffle of a story. I understand that NASCAR is all the rage these days, but I had to fast forward through many repetitive turns around the track. The extended tipping tractors joke could have been cut. Kids will love this movie for decades to come.

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