Outstreched arm

Saturday, June 10, 2006

C'mon dad, gimme the Cars

If Pixar's Cars becomes the highest-grossing movie of all time, it will be well deserved. There - I'll set the tone for this review with a hyperbole, because I've just walked in from a lazy Saturday matinee screening, and it feels like the most awesomest movie I've seen. They may not make actual cars (ones that don't talk or go "tractor-tipping" for fun) like they used to, but I'll be damned if they ever made entertainment this amazing when I was a kid.

I know Cars is a piece of schmaltz, full of valuable lessons, harmless stereotypes, and puns (from verbal to visual to plotwise). But Pixar isn't trying to break new ground in children's writing or writing in general; they're just perfecting their American-born dream tales until they're so deliciously formulaic, you wonder why it's so hard for others to do it even reasonably well. Most formula movies suck; Cars is a volcano of fun, action, emotion, and pure love for the world. All that in a CGI world populated by sentient automobiles. Silly? Predictable? Childish? None of those labels matter.

It's getting so that every frame of their movies is freeze-frame-worthy; from the ridiculous - a "bomb shell" hot rod has a tribal "tattoo" above her, um, rear end - to the fantastically philosophical elements (I'm not kidding) such as mountains that vaguely resemble car parts. Our world wasn't shaped to look like it has our human forms in it, of course, but the only way we humans can relate to an auto-centric universe is by seeing it through their own eyes: in the sky, they see tire tracks. You want popcultural references that are far more Simpsons than - eck - Shrek? How about race cars sponsored by HTB, Hostile Takeover Bank. Throwaways jokes, all of them, and barely noticeable among the plot elements filling the screen for almost two hours.

You'll probably see every major twist and turn coming, but you'll stop trying to do so just five minutes into Pixar's best movie yet. They have not failed for as long as they've existed; all hail Pixar.

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