While Cars is a very enjoyable, beautifully crafted piece of animation, it also shows the first tiny cracks in the heretofore unstoppable Pixar machine. While many of the previous Pixar-movies shone thanks to their oiginality and freshness, Cars is too predictable. The reason for this is the fact that Cars follows the Pixar formula that we know too well from their previous movies (which in turn was more or less modelled after the tried and tested Disney Formula for Animated Success), meaning the movie never surprises us with unexpected happenings. Before the movie starts, just by looking at the plot, you can map out exactly what is going to happen, and if you would get up during the movie and leave the theater for fifteen minutes, you would be up to speed again the second you sit back in your seat. Luckily though, even a Pixar movie that isn't up there with the best things they have made so far is filled to the brim with scenes, characters and other elements that set it apart from most other animated movies. Compare this with something like Chicken Little or Hoodwinked and you realize that Pixar is operating on a whole different level.
The hero of Cars is Lightning McQueen, a slick and powerful sports car, the fastest rookie on the racing track. He almost ruins his chance at winning the national championship during the final race of the season by being too cocky. The race ends in a three way tie, meaning that McQueen and his two main competitors will have to race one more time to decide who is taking home the title. This race is going to take place on the other side of the country, but on the way there McQueen accidentally ends up in Radiator Springs, a small town that has seen better days. Back in the days, it was a bustling little town right off Route 66, but now that there is an Interstate a few miles further on, people don't stop in Radiator Springs anymore, leaving the place almost like a Ghost Town. The few cars still living there hope that one day they will see a return to glory, and the last thing they need is some hotshot race car tearing down the place.
Which McQueen does, literally, and which in return means McQueen is not allowed to leave before he has restored the main street to it's former glory. McQueen ain't happy, fearing that he isn't going to make it to his race in time, but there is nothing he can do about it. He gets to work, against his will, but as his work and stay in Radiator Springs progresses, he realizes that this little town still have a heart and a soul, and that the cars living there aren't too bad after all. He even takes a fancy to the Porsche running the motel, and before you know it, McQueen learns a few of those important lessons that always seem to come up in animated movies.
The movie is filled with little jokes, memorable characters and scenes that look so amazing that you will probably go: "Is this really animation?"
If you have seen animated movies before, this plot will be enough for you to understand exactly what will happen next. Still, this does not make seeing Cars a boring experience. On the contrary! The movie is filled with little jokes, memorable characters and scenes that look so amazing that you will probably go: "Is this really animation?" Characters like Mater, Luigi and Guido are some of the funniest I have seen in an animated movie, and the movie is spiced up by some great dialogue here and there. When Lightning McQueen explains Mater something about a legendary racer, ending with "He's won three Piston Cups!" Mater responds with: "He did what in a cup?" Well, dialogue never really transfers well to the written page, but trust me that you will be laughing for a good part of this movie.
And it's hard to say where things should have been different. Because even though I am cursing the fact that the movie is so predictable, I wouldn't want the adventures of Lightning McQueen to end on a sour note, just to make the movie more original. It's probably a dilemma Pixar is struggling with as well, let's hope they can find a good solution before their next animated classic, Ratatouille, hits theaters next year.