Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Who put the antifreeze in my carburetor?

Took the family to see the new Pixar film Cars the other day. I'm not by any stretch of the imagination a NASCAR fan (kept up with IRL back in the A.J. Foyt days, but that was long years ago) and the original teaser trailer for this flick left me cold. More than cold, it made me actively not want to see this film. Then some full-blown trailers hit, and it didn't look so bad anymore. I wasn't convinced, mind you, but I figured "What the heck? It couldn't be as relentlessly formulaic and uninspired as Madagascar, after all."

Well, I was wrong. It was relentlessly formulaic in ever way imaginable. If you've seen the old Michael J. Fox flick Doc Hollywood you know everything you need to know about where this film is going. But you know what? That doesn't matter. Cars is note-perfect on just about every level, taking a big old heaping pile of cliches and crafting them into what may very well be the most entertaining movie of the year. The character work is brilliant. The designs are clever and inspired. The animation is some of the most detailed and visually stunning ever put to film. If you've ever driven on the famed Route 66--as Lisa and I did for a few hundred miles on our honeymoon--the film will stir a deep sense of nostalgia and spark deep urges to take a road trip. And there are just so many tiny, insignificant details thrown in (I was the only one in the theater to catch the "Freebird!" reference and laugh aloud) that this is a film that can be watched many times and still not give up all of its secrets.

It's not The Incredibles, but really, what is? In the venerated Pixar pantheon, I rank it right in the midst of the Finding Nemo/Toy Story films. The only thing holding it back from being the perfect anthropomorphic race car film is the complete lack of a Speed Buggy cameo. But hey, I suppose they're saving that for the sequel.

Now Playing: Sheena Easton What Comes Naturally

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