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Cars


Review:
Cars was Disney's Summer 2006 animated blockbuster film from Pixar. The film follows Lightning McQueen's cross-country trip to California . Lightning is a hotshot rookie who must win the final race in California to claim the Piston Cup. His efforts to reach the race in time are sidetracked in the sleepy down of Radiator Springs, which was forgotten when the Interstate was built bypassing the town. Lightning grows to learn that his arrogance and self-absorption are not as important as friendship and helping others.

Like most recent animated films, Cars has a story and characters that appeal to children, but also layers in some material that parents will enjoy. The film is fun, filled with action and laughs and a lesson that winning isn't everything. Unlike most animated films, it also includes a soundtrack full of radio-friendly tunes by the likes of Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley, James Taylor and John Mayer. Following the formula of making an animated film that parents and adults can enjoy, Cars succeeds heartily in a way that makes it worth watching over and over.

The Story:
While the main theme has Lightning learning that selflessness is much more rewarding than selfishness, Cars also has two other major themes. A decidedly more adult-oriented theme concerns the community of Radiator Springs itself. Radiator Springs echoes the fate of many roadside communities that faded away as the Interstate highway system replaced highways like Route 66 as the main route of cross-country travel.

The film takes a sentimental approach and portrays such roadside communities as being neglected and abandoned. Taking a cynical approach to this theme, this reviewer points out that many of those same communities only sprouted up in the 1940's-1960's during the golden age of "Roadside America." Modern versions of these communities now exist at Interstate hubs and in most cases will likely go through their own cycle of decline. For the generation (or two) that experienced those communities, it is like losing part of their childhood, but most of these communities did not have a deep impact on the fabric of American history.

A third underdeveloped theme has to do with Doc Hudson. Radiator Springs' old judge turns out to be a legendary car that won three straight Piston Cups before a severe crash sidelined him. He then went into self-imposed exile and has kept his famous accomplishments a secret from the other residents of Radiator Springs only to finally be "given away" by Lightning. This theme has very little to it and the resolution is unconvincing. Doc Hudson isn't much of a mentor for Lightning McQueen and Lightning does very little and yet is able to bring Doc Hudson out of his decades-long brooding.

In spite of this reviewer's seeming criticism of elements of the story, Cars is a thoroughly enjoyable film that is good clean fun and thus better fare than most other kids' films. In sprite of the story's shortcomings, there is still as much depth as many other Hollywood films that are geared toward adults and Cars, after all, is mainly for kids. Lightning's theme is great for the kids. Radiator Springs' theme is there for parents/adults who are sentimental about their own childhood. Although this reviewer didn't think that Doc Hudson's story was completely executed, Cars is a great film for kids with plenty of moments that adults will enjoy as well.

The DVD:
Being a computer animated film, the transfer to DVD is crisp and the stereo sound for the racing scenes comes through wonderfully. The DVD comes with a handful of extras. There is a seven minute animated short featuring Mater and the rest of the Radiator Springs characters. There is also another four minute animated short using different characters. Other extras include a closing credits montage with funny clips that poke fun at previous Pixar films, a featurette on the inspirations for Cars, four deleted scenes (using preliminary animation) and a music video. There aren't a lot of extras, but the three animated clips and the deleted scenes are entertaining especially for the kids. The featurette isn't very detailed, but hints at all the influences on the film's storylines.



2-Disc Special Edition Details:
Mater and the Ghostlight - All-New Animated Short [7:06]
One Man Band - 2005 Oscar Nominated Animated Short [4:30]
Epilogue - Featurette full of humorous end credit vignettes [4:17]
Inspiration for Cars - Creator John Lasseter's first-hand account of the film's development [16:00]
Believe - Music Video performance by Josh Groban at The Greek Theatre
— Deleted Scene: Top Down Truck Stop [3:49]
— Deleted Scene: Lost [1:42]
— Deleted Scene: Community Service [3:13]
— Deleted Scene: Motorama Girls [1:41]
— DVD-ROM Weblink
Buy the Cars DVD Now!






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Available at Amazon.com:
CARS
Widescreen DVD
Full Screen DVD
Spanish DVD

Music:
Soundtrack
Lightning's Fast Tracks

Books:
The Art of Cars
Essential Guide
Paperback
Read Aloud Storybook

Video Games:
CD-ROM (Win/MAC)
Microsoft Xbox
Microsoft Xbox 360
Nintendo DS
Nintendo Game Boy Advance
Nintendo GameCube
Nintendo Wii
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Sony PSP