Pixar Guns Its Engine

Main Voice Cast: Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Keaton

Director: John Lasseter

Plot Summary: A young hot-shot car is arrested for speeding through a small town on his way to the big race. Ordered to stay and do community service, he slowly grows fond of the towns cars. But can he make it to the big race and win?

Mixing a few ingredients together (the big city kid vs. the simple but wise country folk, and underdog coming from behind to win), Cars from Pixar is low-grade charming fare that is a harmless view for kids and amusing for adults. The animation is superb. the art has really taken off over the years, rivaling and even exceeding hand-drawn art. The personalities of the voice actors shine through: yes, you are watching animated automobiles, but they are, well, animated.

To the plot. A young, arrogant race car named Lightning McQueen (the name should tell you everything you need to know for a quick character sketch) blows through the small town of Radiator Springs on his way to a big race. The local cop cars don’t like speeders, and even less when said speeder tears up the road. McQueen (Wilson) is brought back to the town and ordered to do community service while he is being repaired.

At first, obviously, he resents his forced time in such a small-time place. He wants to get back to the bright lights (and lucrative corporate sponsorships) of the big city. But the characters he meets in the small town get to him. There is the spunky Porsche lawyer (Hunt), a hippie Volkswagen (voice by George Carlin, always witty), and a rusty old tow truck (Larry the Cable Guy). All the socializing is fine, and does help him prepare, but does he have it within him to actually win the big race?

Well, I won’t spoil that for you. But just keep in mind the tone of Cars, and ask yourself what type of ending you can expect. Cars is an energetic, colorful film with plenty of personality and, while the plot has been used by live-action movies any number of times, the animation and the solid voice acting pushes it up a notch. The story may be a bit worn around the engine block, but it still has a few revs left in it.

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