Directed By:  John Lasseter
Written By:  Dan Fogelman, Phil Lorin, Kiel Murray (screenplay)
Jorgen Klubien, Don Lake, John Lasseter, Joe Ranft (story)
Robert L. Baird, Dan Gerson, Bonnie Hunt (additional screenplay material)

Starring the vocal talents of: Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Larry The Cable Guy, Cheech Marin, Tony Shalhoub, George Carlin, Katherine Helmond, John Ratzenberger, Joe Ranft, Michael Keaton, Richard Petty, Jeremy Piven, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Mario Andretti
MPAA:  Rated G (all makes & models)
    The need... for speed! All great race car drivers have it, and Lightning McQueen is no exception. But McQueen isn't a driver... he's a car! Cars follows the journey of this speed-happy race rookie, voiced by Owen Wilson, who has a shot at winning his first "Piston Cup" championship, as well as the lucrative corporate sponsorship that goes with it. Also vying for the cup are hotheaded Chick Hicks, voiced by Michael Keaton, and The King, a 1971 Plymouth Superbird voiced by legendary racer Richard Petty.
    Sounds pretty much like every other auto racing movie ever made, right?.After all, we have the stubborn rookie who needs to learn that racing is more than "pedal to the metal" and that life is about more than reaching that next checkered flag... we have the crass, loud-mouthed bully, who will do anything to win... and finally, we have the wise veteran, who can teach the rookie all he needs to know, if only the rookie would slow down long enough to listen. Sure, if this were merely a feature-length cartoon, that would be the whole, familiar story, but Cars is nothing of the sort. Cars is an animated feature film. (smug superiority implied!)
    Rather than give us the same old racing retread, John Lasseter and company throw things into high gear with genre lane changes from 'racing glory' to 'fish-out-of-water' to 'friendship values' to 'comic romance' and back again with Ferrari-like precision. You see, on the way to racing fame and fortune in California, Lightning McQueen finds himself stuck in a little backwater town full of hicks. He can't leave until he's worked off a certain debt, and during that time, he takes an interest in a pretty little Porcshe he meets. Who knows? With her help, he may learn to cool his egocentric pistons, slow down a bit, and enjoy life. The result? An incredible road trip full of - wait a tick. This all sounds oddly familiar... OMG! It's the plot from Doc Hollywood! Hey, PIXAR! What are you trying to pull?
    As for comparing Cars to past PIXAR films, I'd park it right between Toy Story and Monsters Inc. The animation, as expected, is phenomenal. From the characters themselves to the automotively-inspired settings, nearly every frame is a jaw-dropper. In short, Cars is a smart and funny film that will have the entire family leaving the theatre parking lot feeling good. (Yes, I'm giving PIXAR a bit of leway here in the originality department)
Review published
June 12, 2006
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A.J.'s Rating:  4 Stars - The Cars ARE the Stars!
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