I rarely go to movie theaters and I don't think I've ever seen a movie on the day it came out. But tonight I took the PowerKids to see Cars, the new Pixar/Disney animated flick this evening. From Christie Lemire of the Canadian Press:
The makers of Doc Hollywood called. They want their movie back.
Cars rolls along like an animated, automotive version of that 1991 Michael J. Fox gem, from its basic plot points to its feel-good conclusion.
...It's certainly a beautiful film, just like its Pixar predecessors. The animators keep getting better at creating backgrounds and details that look so realistic, you often forget you're watching a computer-generated cartoon and feel as if you're looking at filmed footage. The reflection of neon light on a car's hood, the splash of water or rustle of leaves on the road, the hazy glow from lamps hanging over the highway - all tangibly, stunningly rendered.
The last paragraph describes one thing that caught me about the movie - its stunning animation. Computer animation has come a long way since Dire Straits' video "Money for Nothing"... and even Shrek.
Kids will find the film fast and colourful (if they can sit still for its two-hour running time - many couldn't at a recent New York screening and were running around the theatre by the end). But adults may find it quite facile, especially during a draggy stretch in which James Taylor sings a song - one that's surprisingly clunky, considering Randy Newman wrote it - which explains how tiny towns along Route 66 dried up once the interstate came plowing through the Southwest. It's as if Lasseter yanked the emergency brake.
The theater was populated by many young boys and their families... like the PowerKids and I. It was sort of an odd treat to see my kids start fidgeting at almost exactly the same moments throughout the film as other kids did.
The movie starts slow and I could see its end coming a mile away, but it works its way into being a charmer. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times liked it.
The recent trend in the field has been to go the wiseguy route. Disney, Fox, DreamWorks and others have led us to equate computer animation with bulletproof repartee and snappy patter, turning every creature on the planet into a Borscht Belt comedian. It's not that those films haven't been a treat, or that "Cars" doesn't have its share of gags that make you laugh out loud. But director John Lasseter's latest is not powered by glibness and speed but by warmth, emotion and good-hearted charm. It offers the kinds of sensations all Hollywood once did, and it makes us remember why those films made us care.
Manhola Dargis of the New York Times didn't find it as enjoyable. Must be the east coast bias perhaps because, as Mr. Turan notes:
"Cars" is not only in love with cars, it's also mad about the American West in general and the romance of Route 66, the legendary Mother Road, in particular.