D: John Lasseter (& Joe Ranft)
Disney/Pixar (Darla K. Anderson)
USA 🇺🇸 2006
W: John Lasseter, Joe Ranft, Dan Fogelman, Kiel Murray, Phil Lorin & Jorgen Klubien
Mus: Randy Newman
voices of: Owen Wilson (Lightning McQueen), Paul Newman (Doc Hudson), Bonnie Hunt (Sally Carrera), Larry the Cable Guy (Mater), Tony Shalhoub (Luigi), Michael Keaton (Chick Hicks)
Disney and Pixar delve into the world of motor racing, populated with sentient car characters, one of whom is Lightning McQueen, a hotshot race car contesting for the Piston Cup when he gets waylaid in Radiator Springs, a rundown desert town which hasn't seen many visitors since a nearby highway took visitors away. During his stay, McQueen realises there's more to being than winning a race and material possessions, as well as striking friendships with the town's populace.
It's fair to say that it's a Pixar film which will be more appreciated by youngsters rather than adults, proven by the profitability of the film's merchandise, but it still has enough for everyone. The animation is as good as you'd expect, the characters are reasonably well developed and there's even a little subplot thrown in about respecting your elders.
Not the studios finest film, but it does motor on reliably enough.
CARS 2 (U)
D: John Lasseter
Disney/Pixar (Denise Ream)
US 🇺🇸 2011
W: Ben Queen [based on characters created by John Lasseter, Joe Ranft, Dan Fogelman, Kiel Murray, Phil Lorin & Jorgen Klubien]
Mus: Michael Giacchino
voices of: Owen Wilson (Lightning McQueen), Larry the Cable Guy (Mater), Michael Caine (Finn McMissile), Emily Mortimer (Holley Shiftwell), John Turturro (Francesco Bernoulli), Eddie Izzard (Sir Miles Axlerod)
A sequel to the 2006 film that takes a very different road to the original film, only using the world of motor racing on the periphery of the plot as it sends up the spy genre, focusing on a lesser character from the previous film (Mater, a hillbilly tow truck) and introducing a secret agent car named Finn McMissile, voiced by Michael Caine.
Lightning McQueen does return, but only in a subplot about a world Grand Prix while we follow the hapless tow truck as it gets drawn into an espionage plot involving alternative fuel.
The animation is of the high standard you'd expect from Pixar and Disney, but the storyline is very low on mileage compared to the first film. I'm sure it will provide adequate entertainment for junior petrolheads, but this is easily one of the weakest films to be released by Pixar and I feel it was only released to push more toys being sold. Business-wise, this sequel was probably a good decision, but that doesn't make it a good film.
CARS 3 (PG)
D: Brian Fee
Disney / Pixar (Kevin Reher)
US 🇺🇸 2017
W: Kiel Murray, Brian Peterson & Mike Rich
Mus: Randy Newman
voices of: Owen Wilson (Lightning McQueen), Cristela Alonzo (Cruz Ramirez), Chris Cooper (Smokey), Nathan Fillion (Sterling), Larry the Cable Guy (Mater), Armie Hammer (Jackson Storm)
Following a 2011 sequel that was completely off base, this third film in Pixar’s Cars series of animated films returns to the roots of the original story and is set in the world of motor car racing, rather than a secret world of spy cars.
That being said, it doesn’t really add anything new to the story from the original film, with champion racer Lightning McQueen up against a new rival with better technology to allow him to race at a greater speed.
McQueen puts his career on the line in the final race and ultimately makes a sacrifice to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The animation is of the high quality you’d expect from the studio’s involved, but this is really only going to appeal to young children or major fans of the preceding films.
It also does seem to have a rather garbled moral that if you’re not good enough at something, pass the responsibility to someone else.
Of course, Disney seem to push this message in many other films since, so it’s not a major factor, but does seem a bit like lazy writing, not that anybody under the age of 10 would really notice.