Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Movie Review: Cars, 2006

First things first: Cars isn’t as good as The Incredibles. As Pixar’s follow-up to Brad Bird’s 2004 tour-de-force was doomed to comparison and doomed to suffer by it. We will never be fortunate enough to live in a world where every animated movie is as good as The Incredibles. But against other Pixar films, such as A Bug’s Life or even Toy Story, Cars holds up well. It certainly surpasses Dreamwork’s best efforts, including the much-touted Shrek (Sorry, I’m not a fan).

Cars once again demonstrates both Pixar’s incredible technical savvy as well as their knack for storytelling. To do this movie right, Pixar had to design a world where there are cars but no people. They had to make this world both natural and familiar. They also had to transpose emotions onto objects. They manage these challenges wonderfully, and viewers will quickly accept the reality the film offers. The casting is a big help in this. Paul Newman, Owen Wilson and Michael Keaton lend their distinctive voices to the main characters and that counts for a lot in an animated film.

The storyline is familiar enough, but that’s forgivable in a movie that primarily meant for children, and the animation is more than stunning enough to make up for any predictability. My message is, don’t go in expecting the depth, character or excitement of the Incredibles, but do go in expecting to be entertained and visually blown away. If I can help just on person skew their expectations correctly, I’ll have done my job.

Me vs. Roger Ebert: Roger enjoyed Cars every bit as much as I did, and added some thoughts about the sense of loss the film conveys beneath its sparkle (wish I’d thought to mention that). He agrees that it’s no Incredibles, but what could be?

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