"Cars" review


Cars is, possibly, the best pure movie about cars ever made: It celebrates all that is wonderful about automobiles--freedom, exploration, and competition, all the while ignoring environmentalism, urban sprawl, and the disconnectedness that the automobile has imbued.

Cars is the latest effort from John Lassiter, renegade 3D animation pioneer and partner of Steve Jobs in Pixar. It follows 3D monuments like Toy Story, a Bugs Life, Monsters Inc., Nemo, and the Incredibles, and like them it's a character-driven story. This time the protagonist is Lightning McQueen, a "Piston Cup" (wink, NASCAR!) rookie car who ditches his team in his quest to win the title himself. Surprise, he blows a tire on the last lap, forcing him into a 3-way runoff with King, played by Richard Petty, and Chick Hicks, the antagonist.

McQueen gets lost (literally!) half-way across Arizona and ends-up in Radiator Springs, a fictional town patterned after Winslow, Arizona. What follows is "Doc Hollywoood", with cars instead of people. McQueen runs afowl of the local authority, is sentenced to menial labor, and through the course of his duties, finds his purpose and helps the town rediscover its own.

Thing is, the movie's BETTER then that. Doc Hollywood's a solid 'B' movie. Cars is spectacular, especially in digital projection on the big screen, in surround sound. Colors pop, sounds zoom, and the detail on the cars is impeccable, down to wheel detail, transmission whine, and (of course!) engine note. This is the car-nerd / americana overload, and I LOVED IT!


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