Lightning McQueen, a hotshot rookie race car driven to succeed, discovers that life is about the journey, not the finish line, when he finds himself (…) in the sleepy Route 66 town of Radiator Springs.
For the sake of honesty, I´ll say that I went to see Cars almost forced by a friend. Though I usually love animation films, the way the cars are portrayed looked somehow too bland, too gentle, so to say, and I feared that the whole would share that same spirit.
In fact, while perhaps mild, Cars is nevertheless a good movie. Its main achievement is that of making believable characters out of cars, a difficult task given the lack of points that can be animated for expresiveness (no hands, for instance). From a technical point of view the film is outstanding, from the shines to the perspectives, from the tiny details to the vast landscapes. The music and sound effects are also high quality; Randy Newman, Pixar´s composer of choice, has written a score (linked from the picture above) which does its job subtly, conveying the appropriate emotions when needed and never demanding too much attention from the public.
This said, Cars is a very nice movie, but for some it may lack “punch“. The story is not very original -I would dare to say that it is not original at all: a variation on the “hero´s journey” theme, it has points in common with a myriad other stories. One could say that our friend Luke McQueen landed in Dagobah! That the plot is so familiar is not bad per se: it´s not what you say, but how you say it. Unfortunately, there´s nothing special in the way the story unfolds or in how the situations are treated other than the gags derived from the characters being cars, which are in fact the best moments of the film.
That the end is so utterly happy, that the Dark character is not really dark but just shallow, even the cheesy song, all these things may perhaps be “too Disney-ish” (better: disney cliches), but I believe that there´s still enough Pixar (sense of humour, self parodies) to make Cars appealing and worthwhile.