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Cars (PG)
Directed by: John Lasseter
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz

Well, it seems an age since Pixar last released a film (2004's The Incredibles), but what a film it was! Unfortunately, living up to the brilliance of their previous films was never going to last forever. The journey from Toy Story and Toy Story 2 to Monsters Inc. to Finding Nemo to The Incredibles and beyond was one that surely had to take a downward dip in quality sooner or later. With their latest release, Cars, I'm afraid the dip has occurred, but thankfully it's more of a small pothole in the road than the kind of sheer drop that once met Thelma and Louise.

Owen Wilson and Paul Newman take a spin in the country
Owen Wilson and Paul Newman take a spin in the country

The always hilarious Owen Wilson stars as the voice of Lightning McQueen (named after sadly deceased Pixar animator Glenn, not sadly deceased actor Steve), a speedy racing car with stick on headlights and a selfish desire to win the Piston Cup. However, on his way to the final race of the season, McQueen gets sidetracked onto Route 66 and accidentally damages the road running through Radiator Springs, one of the towns that used to thrive off the passing traffic.

McQueen has to stay in the sleepy backwater town at the risk of missing his race in order to repair the road, but while he's there, he discovers plenty about the pleasure of driving, the value of friendship and that winning isn't everything.

I'm always complaining that other animation studios come up with a half baked idea for a movie and churn out a weak script and some prettily animated pictures, and then sit back and coin it off all the kiddies who get taken to see the film. But with Pixar, you know you're getting treated better than that. Director John Lasseter, now Principal Creative Advisor at Disney, has directed this one, and spent hundreds of hours meticulously researching and transferring his passion for cars and Route 66 into this film.

The voice acting is top notch and the assembled cast is hardly lacking in talent or big names either (Paul Newman and Michael Keaton anyone?). Of course, being the company that pioneered computer animation, it's no surprise that the detail in this movie is nothing short of beautiful. Chunks of discarded rubber are thrown realistically around the track as race cars fly after each other and particle effects show dust clouds kicked up by screeching tyres. In fact, each individual frame of this film took around seventeen hours of computer processor time to render. By my calculations, that means one computer processor would take about five and half years to render the whole film!

As you might expect, absolutely everything is referenced in this film, from real models of car, previous films about cars, classic cartoons, real locations and, of course, recent Pixar films. Couple that with appearances from Michael Schumacher, Mario Andretti and, err, Jeremy Clarkson and you certainly have something you don't see everyday.

While they may have departed from the buddy formula that served them so well over the years, Cars is still an excellent example of how to make an animated film. It's sufficiently grown up to entertain adults and not treat kids like imbeciles, it's intriguing, funny, beautiful looking and firmly grounded in a proper storyline at all times. We've been spoilt by their previous offerings, but while Cars doesn't quite reach the dizzying heights of its predecessors, it is still well worth watching.

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Length: 121 minutes
Certificate: PG
Official Site: http://www.disney.co.uk/DisneyMovies/cars/
IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0317219/
Release Date: 28th July 2006

Top Five Rating: 80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0% (80.0%)
User Rating: 100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0% (100.0%)

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