Cars: can^h^h^h did they do it again?

Another thing that really shows off the perfection of the physics modeling in this movie are the two dirt-track races that Lightning and Doc get into, both of them have been seen in the various previews, but seeing it on the big screen, you really sense the accuracy of the physics modeling…

In the first clip, Lightning’s roaring along at WOT (Wide Open Throttle) along the dirt track, the suspension is flexing and responding accurately for dirt track conditions, there’s a palpable sense of speed, Lighning turns his tires hard left to take the corner…

And he’s carrying too much speed into the turn, there’s not enough grip on the front tires to overcome his inertia, so he flies off-track, front tires pointing left, while going straight into the Prickly Pear cactus patch, front tires completely ineffective due to nonexistent traction…

As a car guy, as soon as i saw Lightning tearing down the dirt track heading into the corner, i said to myself “he’s carring too much speed into the corner, he’s not gonna’ make it”, the animation and physics modeling was just right…

Later, Doc Hudson drives the same track and countersteers into the turn and controls the rate of turning/sliding with the throttle, powersliding through the turn, once again, the physics model of a powerslide on a dirt track was absolutely spot-on, right down to the clouds of dust kicked up during the powerslide, and the slower revolutions of the front tires as Doc carves the turn in the dirt…

In Radiator Springs, when Lizzie, the old Model T Ford (who was seen earlier in the Boundin’ short for The Incredibles) is sleeping, her “snores” are an absolutely perfect recreation of the idle sounds of an old Model T…

The Tractor’s engines have the slow, loping idle of a large diesel engine

The King’s crash in the final race was wincingly, jaw droppingly real, there was an audible gasp from the audience when he started rolling and rolling and rolling, the entire audience winced in sympathetic pain…, and this was in reaction to a CGI rendered car, i guess it’s safe to say the audience was able to suspend disbelief…

MacTech, that could be because that wreck is an almost perfect recreation of Rusty Wallace flipping a car at Talladega in 1993.

They got “The Big One” at the beginning of the movie pretty accurate too. Pixar did their homework (didn’t hurt that the director of Fox’s NASCAR coverage, Artie Kempner, was a consultant.)

Another obvious (to me, anyway) in-joke is that the tires and blimp are by “LIGHTyear” not GoodYear. Say hello, Buzz…

My own blog-based spoiler-free review:


Short summary: While Cars is not as sophisticated as some of Pixar’s other movies, it’s still a relaxing and satisfying film, a combination of character study and travelogue that practices what it preaches.

Long summary: For the three people remaining on the continent who have avoided all prior buzz regarding this movie, Cars is the computer-animated tale of Lightning McQueen, a cocky hotshot NASCAR race car who dreams of making it to the top in record time. En route to an important race, Lightning gets lost in the forgotten town of Radiator Springs, where he meets an eclectic group of residents and eventually learns that the journey is the reward.

Despite how it may appear, there’s nothing spoiler-oriented in the summary above. That’s because Cars is not a plot-driven movie; there are no unexpected developments or surprise twists here. Just as you know Luke Skywalker will defeat the Empire, just as you know George Bailey will realize how meaningful his existence is, so you also know that Lightning McQueen will ultimately learn how to stop being a dipstick and slow down. Cars is, instead, all about how you get to the end and the experiences along the way.

And, true to the movie’s message, it takes a leisurely drive to get there; the characters have subtleties that aren’t evident until you actually spend time with them, and the movie gives us ample time to do so. In many ways, it’s the opposite of X-Men 3, which zipped past its story so fast that the characters are merely blurry cliches – in Cars, the characters that seem like cliches in the commercials and trailers become fully-formed people (okay, cars :wink: ) after you’ve invested the time to know them. This investment pays off at the film’s climax, where you care about them as individuals and end up sharing their joys as a result.

If there’s a weakness to Cars, it’s that the second act is entirely wrong for the summer movie market. In a season filled with ear-shattering explosive effects, Cars’ quiet serenity stands out to trip the unwary (the trailers, filled with high-speed NASCAR races, don’t help any). Instead, the movie shows itself off with understated grace; the desert plains of Cars ranks up there with the undersea reefs of Finding Nemo for breathtaking visuals. And because it’s such a character-driven vehicle (sorry), the deep introspection of Cars’ second act will leave impatient viewers – and younger kids – fidgeting in their seats. But I can’t fault the film for this; I’d rather keep Cars’ second act as-is than break it up with audience-pleasing slapstick or – even worse – cut it short in the name of expediency.

Cars is not Pixar’s best movie ever – that title goes with The Incredibles, which deftly blends audience-pleasing action and humor with adult-oriented themes and messages. But Cars is a worthy addition to the Pixar filmography, a leisurely byway far from the frantic summer box office superhighway. This is a movie that doesn’t just talk about slowing down to appreciate the quiet things in life, but also slows itself down – and rewards viewers with some quiet beauty of its own.


And I’ll add that I didn’t recall hearing any “git-r-dones,” and it didn’t bother me none. But can someone tip me into where the Pizza Planet truck was?

Cars trivia links:

“Cars Decoded” - a reference to the automotive in-jokes.

“A Route 66 Guide to Cars” - the real-world places (and people) that inspired the movie.

So… for Frank the big “bull” combine… were the tractors his…umm… “cows”?

I kept dropping my jaw over the scenery…is there any possibility that a 3D animated movie can qualify for Best Cinematography? This was one of the most beautiful films I have seen in a while.

So as not to spoil the visuals for those who haven’t seen it:

the aforementioned waterfall; the mountain range that had the silhouette of what is ostensibly the most famous of Route 66 attractions - the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo; the various foothills that were the hoods/front quarterpanels of various old cars

I think I was the target audience - I love 3D animation, NASCAR AND Larry the Cable Guy…:slight_smile:

I cannot wait for it to come out on DVD and I can frame-by-frame it :slight_smile:

I thoroughly enjoyed the film - in fact the wife and I are taking a friend’s kids to see it next week so the friends can have their first “night off” in a couple of years :).

the only G-'r-D in the film is near the end of the film, at the tiebreaker race between Lightning, Chick and The King, Lightning was knocked out of control by Chick, and losing control on the grass, he uses Doc’s advice about countersteering/powersliding to regain control, and as he drives back onto the track, Mater yells out “WHOA!! Git 'Er Done!!”

Holy tractor, what a fun movie.

I freely confess that I had serious reservations about Cars. The trailers made it appear that the film would focus primarily on the modern sanitized, Burger King-endorsed, “driver-as-astronaut/saint” NASCAR culture of which I am decidedly not a fan. Ultimately though, given Pixar’s generally excellent track record, I decided to give Cars a shot. At the very least, I figured I’d get an amusing animated short subject out of the deal, even if I felt the need to bail out on the feature presentation.

I really should have trusted John Lasseter’s crew more. Cars is a *tour de force * infused with a palpable affection for classic car culture and vintage Americana. Even many of the NASCAR references seemed to hearken back to that earlier, greasier, slightly disreputable era with which I am more familiar (Richard Petty? Mario Andretti? Hey, I recognize those guys! Even when they’re cars!) The voice casting is inspired (although I seem to recall a time when Michael Keaton was capable of sounding much sleazier). The cheerfully lightweight storyline, “young, superficial hot shot learns valuable life lesson,” presents itself as the very best kind of Tom Cruise movie (i.e., the kind without Tom Cruise in it).

As is to be expected from Pixar by now, the animation is cutting-edge CGI, yet has an astoundingly unobtrusive feel to it (a feat which their rival Dreamworks has so far been unable to approach). For the greater part of the movie, there were no glaring moments to forcibly remind me I was viewing computer-animated characters, any more than one is aware of the individual painted images when viewing classic Disney or Warner’s cel animation. Interestingly, the general appearance of the anthropomorphic vehicles appears to directly reference the designs from Tex Avery’s classic shorts **One Cab’s Family ** and Little Johnny Jet.

I honestly wonder if the current dominance of CG animated films isn’t simply an accident of history based solely on the ascendancy of Pixar under John Lasseter. It seems apparent to me that the Pixar crew is not merely brilliant at CG animation; they are brilliant animators, period. If that concentration of genius had instead been channeled into pushing the envelope of cel animation 20 years ago, I suspect that some variety of the classic tradition might still be the industry standard today, while purely CG animated features would be regarded as a pennypinching, aesthetically inferior approach better suited to video games.

On the drive home from the theater, I was amused to find myself studying the “faces” of the cars around me. It appears that my own 1998 Buick LeSabre is a well-groomed business administration major in her late twenties with a hidden wild side that emerges after a few strawberry margaritas. Just my luck; here I’ve been busting my chops searching for my dream girl, and it turns out I’ve been driving her for years now.

I think that anyone who ever owned Matchbox cars as a kid, marveled at Detroit’s chromed excesses of the Eisenhower era or Raymond Loewy’s iconic streamlined creations, or ever helped their dad change a tire, could watch this movie multiple times and spot something new and wonderful with each new viewing. I’m definitely going to check this one out again tomorrow.

One thing that puzzled me: were the “Car Talk” guys’ characters supposed to be snake-oil salesmen? Based on their appearance and that of their revival-tent audience, their product didn’t look as though it worked as well as advertised.

I have only one serious problem with the movie. Cars should absolutely** *NOT *** have long, pink, fleshy tongues. I can’t emphasize this strongly enough.

I didn’t get the sense that they were selling snake-oil as much as they were just a small-time company working on a shoestring budget, stretching their claims in typical advertisment fashion. Like the commercial’s footnote says, “May take up to 54 weeks to get results.” :smiley:

I think the idea was that they were small-time, and that they were selling a decidely unhip, embarassing product. Like if the new hotshot athlete had to go out shilling for Preparation H.

I’m a big fan of Pixar, and went into this expecting to love it… and I only liked it. It didn’t seem to flow too well. I felt there were too many characters all trying to get their bit in at once, and often times little moments were so rushed I had no idea what had just happened.

Also, it just wasn’t all that funny very often.

Still a very entertaining movie, but I thought it was definitely a step below the last 4 pixar movies (Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, Nemo and Incredibles).

Why were there giant car hood-shaped hills? Was that just a random conceptual visual, or was it a reference to something that escaped me?

The place is supposed to be like the real life Cadillac Ranch, the tail fins in the background were the iconic representations of the 6 iconic years of cadillac manufacture with the big tailfins, in order, left to right.

The area they raced in looked like a air cleaner, there was a section with a hood ornament, and the car hood shape hills were further touches.

We have bunches of landmarks that ‘look like people’, why wouldn’t a car society have a bunch of landmarks that ‘look like cars’?

There’s yet another level to the joke, since the majority of the hills are shaped like hoods with prominent hood ornaments, and the road map that appears a few times throughout the film identifies that area as “Ornament Valley,” a clear parallel to the famous Monument Valley. Similarly, the Cadillac Ranch-shaped hills are identified as the “Cadillac Range.”

Why yes, in fact I did just get back from a second viewing; why do you ask? :smiley:

Pixar must have devoted an entire department just to devise the innumerable eerily authentic-looking joke labels, signs, and brandings that only end up appearing for a bare instant of screen time. I got a kick out of the original Sinclair-echoing Dinoco and “Virtual Realty” signs from Toy Story, but this film contains just too much visual punnery for me to process. Once it gets out on DVD, this is definitely going to be one of those “appreciate it frame-by-frame” movies. For one thing, I really need to know what the name of the film is that’s listed on the abandoned drive-in sign when McQueen first hits town…

I think I noticed a mildly raunchy, over-the-heads-of-the-littl’uns bit of humor early in the film, when “the twins,” a couple of enthusiastic groupies, introduce themselves to Lightning McQueen (in unison: “We’re your biggest fans!!!”) As they’re hustled away by security, I’m pretty sure they literally “flash their headlights” at him.

One interesting feature of the end credits: “The name and image of Elvis Presley appears courtesy of Elvis Presley Enterprises.” Did anyone catch the circumstances in which Elvis was depicted?

I just saw it with my kid this afternoon.

I’d say Cars was my least favorite Pixar movie. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t really all that good. Worse, it was tedious.

There was some good, triumphant stuff at the end, but that last 10-15 minutes was about the only time I was genuinely enjoying myself for more than one too-rare laff-line.

The spoofs during the credits were quite funny, though.

There’s an Elvis impersonator camper in the infield of the opening race.

Anybody wanting to geek out over the movie should probably read this:

While I’m a car guy, my wife isn’t in the least bit. Nada, zippo, zilch.

As mentioned though, you really begin to identify with the characters on a personal, human level. There’s a scene near then end that can be “tear jerky.” I found myself thinking there’s no way as a grown man that I’m going to allow myself to tear up at an animated car movie. Then I looked over at my wife, the auto-ambivalent, and she had tears streaming down her face.

Wonderful show. I too would give it a 10.

From my blog:

[spoiler]
I’ve said before, I don’t mind seeing children’s films if they are GOOD. I wasn’t too worried about having to see Cars this weekend. It is a Disney-Pixar film and they have been batting a thousand going all the way back to Toy Story.

Cars was a miss for me though. It was just kind of…boring. The difference between Cars and the other Pixar films is the lack of adventure. All the other films had some grand scheme or action. The plot of this one is that a race car is driving across country to a big race and gets in trouble for wrecking up a small town. He is then sentenced to community service in the small town until he pays back the debt to the town. Cultures clash. Feathers are ruffled. Understanding occurs. Bonds are formed.

Basically, it was the movie “Doc Hollywood” with an animated race car standing in for Michael J. Fox.

Plus, as the title suggests, it focuses on cars and racing. I’m not really much of a gear head, so the subject matter didn’t appeal to me. I know enough about Nascar to get some of the jokes, but I don’t really like Nascar. So, the jokes were not intended for me.

Couple that with the fact that I had already seen Doc Hollywood a 1000 times and this film did NOT feature a nude Julie Warner, there just wasn’t much for me to like.[/spoiler]
It isn’t terrible, but there were times I was really bored.

Definitely the bottom of the Pixar list with a B- or a C .

In case you were wondering:

PIXAR Films Ranked:

1 Monsters Inc.

2 Toy Story 1

3 Toy Story 2

4 Finding Nemo

5 Incredibles

6 Bug’s Life

7 Cars

The big one was a Cord and I’m pretty sure a small one was a Chrysler Airflow.