Movie #108 2021: Cars (2006)

It’s a really strange thing that Cars – possibly the most universally disliked Pixar movie of them all – spawned two other sequels after it. Perhaps it should be remembered that these types of films are primarily aimed at children and that it’s not exactly the studio’s intention to cater to the needs of adults. However, in this day and age, we do expect some in-jokes to keep the adults entertained, and on that basis… I don’t really understand why so many hate this movie!

Cars’ character list is made up solely of – you guessed it – cars, with a few planes and trucks thrown in for good measure. Following the path to fame of fan-favourite Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), the movie takes us on a journey of discovery; the discovery that life is not always about winning, but often about living. When McQueen sets out for fame and fortune at the annual ‘Piston Cup’ racing event, he suddenly goes off road and finds himself in the forgotten, sleepy town of Radiator Springs. There, he meets several good hearted (or good engined?) people who quickly teach him the real meaning of life, and the importance of having good friends along the way.

Well… it’s not Pixar’s best, I’ll give the haters that. But it’s definitely the best Fast & Furious movie I’ve ever seen!

Still, I’m really quite baffled as to why so many seem to dismiss this movie (and indeed the whole trilogy). Cars is certainly not a perfect movie, but there are some really great things about it. Getting its audience to deeply care about animated automobiles sounds like a pretty impossible task for instance, but they manage to get it done! I loved them all! Get me a Guido soft toy this instant!

Am I as enthusiastic about Cars as I am about Toy Story? Definitely not. That doesn’t mean though that there’s not room for it in the hearts of animation fans.

Some of the dialogue is incredibly witty here, and there are some brilliant instances of “jokes for the adults” within it. Again, is the script as snappy as a Toy Story film? No – overall, it’s one of the more “kiddy” movies in Pixar’s catalogue. However, there’s still plenty to keep the grown ups entertained and the voice acting (particularly that of the late, great Paul Newman and Black-ish star Jenifer Lewis) is great. 

So, onto the less impressive things. Whilst the animation is technically perfect (how they get that glossy, realistic shine on the cars I will never know), there’s just something weird about the “eyes” on the characters to me. Could they really not have come up with some other way to do it? I don’t know, I just found it kind of creepy that the windshields (where the eyes are situated) come across as so two-dimensional and plainly coloured when the rest of the animation is vibrant and shapely.

Secondly, Cars is quite simply too long. The opening montage goes on for what feels like an age and there are several sequences that are unnecessary altogether. Cut this down by 10 minutes, get us to Radiator Springs quicker, and you have a Pixar classic. 

Despite it’s minor flaws, I had a really nice time watching this movie and the message of how important it is to balance friends and kindness with money and success is a sweet one. I’ll be pushing the haters to one side, because definitely underrated and if it was made by any other studio it’d be classed as exceptional. Sadly, because Pixar’s films are so good, it seems to get sidelined quite often.

Don’t listen to anyone else: it’s completely worth your time. SOME PEOPLE JUST HATE JOY! 🚗

Cars is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.

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