Pixar vice president/director John Lasseter helms this 116 minute animated film collaboration with Disney. Owen Wilson and Paul Newman provide voice talent for two main characters.
Wilson voices Lightning McQueen, a rookie race car who has a lot to learn about humility and teamwork. On the way to the Piston Cup Championship, McQueen takes an unexpected detour on historic Route 66.
Doc Hudson, voiced by Newman, leads the small town of Radiator Springs of Carburetor County and eventually finds a unique bond with McQueen.
Bonnie Hunt (Jumanji) voices Sally, a Porsche who’s grown to love Radiator Springs. Larry the Cable Guy provides a lot of great comedy as the voice of Mater, a tow truck who befriends McQueen in the town.
Michael Keaton plays the ‘green with envy’ racing rival Chick and sports announcer Bob Costas provides great play-by-play for the beginning and ending races.
Other voice talents include Tony Shalhoub, Cheech Marin, George Carlin and John Ratzenberger (TV’s Cheers), a Pixar regular (see ending credits).
Voice talent also includes real life racing stars like Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Richard Petty, Mario and Michael Andretti.
Instead of relying on pop culture jokes, innuendos and other references, Cars bookends the film with two exciting race sequences with a great interlude in the middle centering on Radiator Springs.
The story, originating from six screenwriters, has lots of good lessons on underestimating people and materialism, but the real emotion comes from Radiator Springs’ quest to find a way to get back on the map.
Filmmakers create a nice montage to show how the town changed over time and the factors that contributed to it. No one seems to need us like they did before, says one of the town citizens.
This film has great music, an important element director Lasseter depended on in his last film, Toy Story 2.
Song standouts include “Real Gone”, performed by Sheryl Crow and the touching “Our Town”, performed by James Taylor and written by Randy Newman, who also does the musical score.
The Pixar animated short One Man Band appears before the feature. Pixar adds a nice homage of their previous films during the ending credits.
The film is dedicated to the late co-director, Joe Ranft who also voices the fire engine. Recommended (*** out of four stars) and rated G.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler