Review Date: June 14, 2006
Director: John Lasseter
Writer: Dan Fogelman, Philip Loren, Kiel Murray
Producers: Darla K. Anderson
Owen Wilson as Lightning
Paul Newman as Doc
Bonnie Hunt as Sally
Lightning McQueen is a cocky young racecar primed to win the top honors in his rookie season running for the Piston Cup. He has one final race left in California though, but gets lost on the way to the West Coast, and ends up in a small town that was written off the map a long time ago. In that town, he befriends a few locals, and despite not giving too much of a shit about them or their town at first, learns to adapt over time, and eventually…well, starts banging all of the hot chick cars in town! Well, okay…I was kidding about that last part, but you get the picture. Racing, cool-looking cars and a “Disney message” ensues.
A nice-looking movie that moves along at a decent pace, splashes plenty of colorful characters onto its palette, tosses in a heartfelt message about how we should never discount “the old” and get too cocky as something/someone “new” enters the picture, but at the end of the day, and at the end of this film, I couldn’t help but ask “Is that it?”. The movie did most of what it needed to do in order to pass my time and entertain me gently along the way – although most of the entertainment came from its visuals, characters and story, not from any laugh-out loud comedy – but I can’t see myself running to the DVD store when it’s released, or for that matter, ever watching it again with great enthusiasm. No major memorable scenes stuck out in my mind, no catchy tunes infected me and no major emotional surge invigorated me as I walked out of the theater. Sure, I smiled most of the way through, but it was more of a fluff-piece, rather than a laugh-a-long, sing-a-long or all-out action-packed extravaganza a la CHICKEN RUN, SHREK or THE INCREDIBLES. What makes that even odder is that this film featured cars, something any boy can appreciate. I guess if I was 8 years old, I might be going a little more ga-ga over this movie, but as a non-8-year old, the characters were definitely fun and unique, for the most part (loved those Italian tire-changers), but I can’t say that the film wowed me like previous Pixar flicks had done. The lack of any real “bad guy” surely didn’t benefit it either.
The imagery was gorgeous though, with some of the shots through the canyon roads taking my breath away (made me feel like taking a trip to the Grand Canyon), and the two Nascar races were pretty fun to watch, but other than that, the film’s promos have really misled audiences into thinking that this would be an all-out “racing” picture, when in reality, the two races in the film only take up about 15% of the movie. The rest of the stuff takes place in a small town with a bunch of quirky characters all trying to turn our lead cocky boy, voiced nicely by Owen Wilson, into a man of greater moral standing. Nice message, I suppose, but like I said, the film didn’t feature enough memorable moments to recommend whole-heartedly. Still worth checking out on the big screen though (looks wondrous), particularly if you have kids, as the “adult humor/insinuations” or movie homages, have been whacked down dramatically in this go-around. It seems like many of the newer animated movies aren’t shooting for the adults much anymore, but rather their main audience: kids. This one might be perfect for those pre-teen boys, but I’m not sure how girls will take to it, or adults for that matter. I thought it was “okay”, but nothing to email my grandma about.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian