Cars John Lasseter

The idea of having vehicles as the basis of the latest Pixar film wasn’t a bad idea — the problem was they made a car universe without people or animals. The notion that automobiles created stadiums, garages, roads and everything else with tires for hands seems ridiculous, even from the studio that gave us talking toys and closet monsters. Had Cars taken the Toy Story approach, in which cars lead a secret life when humans aren’t around, it would have made for a much more engaging film, but we’re talking about the glorious Pixar and they manage to make you forget the impossible and focus on the steel characters. The plot isn’t as original as we’ve come to expect from the studio either, as an obnoxious race car named Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) finds himself stranded in a deserted town, forgotten when the interstate decided to pass up on small businesses in order to save ten minutes of driving time. Of course, there’s the story of someone who lives their life too fast taking the time to slow down and enjoy the finer things, all while making new friends and falling in love. Cars is the "weakest” film Pixar has produced so far but that’s not a damning statement, as the studio is light years ahead of fare such as Shrek, though this time they do tread dangerously close to such territory, with far more pop culture references and Sheryl Crow songs than warranted. The DVD is slim on extras and they’re not of stellar quality, which is a sign a deluxe version will be hitting shelves in the near future. What we get is a 15-minute piece on the inspiration for the film, with director John Lasseter taking his crew to Route 66 and everything falls into place from there. They talk to business owners who really were forgotten when the interstate was implemented and these people became the basis for the characters in the film, with Lasseter playing the role of Lightning McQueen; he didn’t take his children on road trips like his father did. It’s all a little sappy and not incredibly interesting, but it’s nice to see how the studio did their research with stock car drivers to make sure they made the best film they could on the subject matter. The deleted scenes are animated pencil sketches that make you tune out instantly and the bonus short about Mater getting a dose of his own medicine when it comes to scare tactics is decent, but the best extra is the One Man Band short, in which Pixar shows they can still serve a quick five-minute piece with no dialogue that leaves you thoroughly entertained. Let’s just hope Ratatouille is amazing. (Pixar/Buena Vista)