Sunday, July 09, 2006

CARS

Talking toys, I'm there. Talking fish, I'm there. Talking bugs, I'm there. Talking monsters, I'm there. Superheroes living undercover in suburbia, I love it. But talking cars. I mean, talking cars. There's something in me that just turns off at the idea of a movie about talking goddamn cars. It felt too close to a movie about Care Bears, somehow. That's part of what kept me from seeing the movie for so long, the Care Bear factor. The certainty that Big Lessons were going to be imparted to me via the Magic Of Animation.

And actually, I wasn't far wrong. CARS feels like it was made for kids, and frankly not very bright kids at that. The movie is a pretty naked endorsement of friendship, honesty, teamwork, etc. Our hero's journey from being a self-involved self-sufficient selfish creep to being a nice guy who values others is trite and predictable, with only the occasional faint surprise. Heartstrings are tugged and tugged. Worst of all, the energy and irreverence that kept Pixar masterworks like TOY STORY and FINDING NEMO and THE INCREDIBLES from sinking under the weight of their own assorted Messages is almost completely absent. There's a cute bit during the end credits, where we see car versions of Pixar classics like TOY CAR STORY and MONSTER TRUCK INC, but even this feels forced, as if they sensed that something was missing from the rest of the movie.

To be fair, the movie looks great. Shot after shot astounds. A scene in a moonlit field is startling, because it just looks so damn real: this one moment puts years of bogus cinematic day for night shooting to shame. A scene lit by neon is similarly gorgeous. The scenery and art direction are magnificent.

But without a more interesting story, who cares? I sure as hell didn't.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Story? What story? Well written, Roscoe.

Pooji said...

I guess I was hoping you would love CARS and give me a reason to see it. Sadly (for Pixar & Disney & their bottom lines, anyway), that is not the case. I will instead waste my time on the crap in my Netflix queue, instead of the crap in theaters.

bossyshrimp said...

Not Pixar's best, indeed. However, having gone with my two kids, themselves Pixar scholars mainlined on Gummy Stars and jacked up old-skool on Goobers, I was able to view the flick through a much more forgiving filter. And believe me, Mr. Roscoe, it didn't go unnoticed to this moviegoer that, once again, Pixar managed to crowbar in one of their trademark, sappy, mid-movie, "things used to be better back in the fifties before the world became so darn big" segments; predictably accompanied by some hackish piece of ear-junk.

Pooji said...

Well, I finally saw CARS the other night. While there are better (and worse!) ways to spend time, my final thought can be summed up thusly: What can you say about a film whose best performance is by Larry the Cable Guy? I am a big fan of a lot of the actors in this movie, but they mostly just fall flat. Perhaps, screenplay by committee is part of the problem here. I'm not sure, and I probably won't ever watch this movie again. Though, I suppose, if there's ever a Pixar box set, I may end up owning CARS. But it just couldn't live up to other Pixar titles--even the short, ONE MAN BAND, shown before this feature. Perhaps that is Pixar's own fault for setting the bar so high.

And speaking of high....Owen Wilson delivers lines in one style. Period. I keep waiting for some variation; I waited in vain. At least we had the CAR TALK guys in a cameo. And Tony Shalhoub to breathe some life into this stinker.