Not to be one of those type of “me too” types of people, but what Argent Towers has said, nearly word for word. (The one difference: I thought the desert scenery was pretty well-done. Like other computer animation studios, I’ve felt that Pixar sometimes builds its stories and story environments to show off developments in animation techniques. Something tells me they had probably made some advances in animating dust and such. Whatever the case, the geek in me who loved Tron sat in awe watching the realistic dust and such).
Storywise, it’s not a bad movie by any means, and from any other animation company (including Disney proper) it’d be astounding. But it’s like getting a B- project from an A+ student; it’s above average but you know that Pixar is capable of better. The reliance on “blue collar” humor felt a little close to the Dreamworks method of using pop cultural references for cheap jokes. Tow-Mater was one step away from that dreadful “They call me Tater” joke. Ugh. And, like Argent said, that kind of humor is forced and artificial. In the context of a comedy night, fine, but it’s misapplied here.
It’s been a brilliant longterm success in ways that other, more highly acclaimed Pixar films haven’t been, and for that I have to give them tons of credit. It’s been incredibly marketable to both children and adult car fans… the licensed products continue strong (taking a sizeable chunk of the die-cast car market, for instance) while more recent efforts fizzle. Not too many WALL-E toys out there, but endcaps full of Cars model vehicles still hang on at toy stores and discount department stores. It-- like the Buzz Lightyear branch of Toy Story-- has managed to tap into the boys market, too. While any gender can enjoy the products, boys seem to gravitate to Buzz and Cars more than gender-neutral Pixar properties. It’s also the closest to a boy’s license range that Disney has right now, so it tends to get promoted on equal footing with the very successful girl’s ranges of Disney Princess and Disney Fairies. All of this has kept the film in the public eye for far longer than, say, Ratatouille.
Anecdotally, among friends with kids, Cars is far and away the favorite film of the kids-- not just the favorite animated film, or favorite Disney/Pixar film. It’s a kids’ movie… the people who don’t like it invariably aren’t kids.