Purely based on the concept, “Cars” is one of Pixar’s most bizarre movies. The idea of an entire planet inhabited by anthropomorphic vehicles is just insane, and I can’t decide if it’s genius or ridiculous.
Hands down, the best part of this movie is the racing. The opening scene throws you straight into the “Cars” world and immediately hits you with the whiplash of being in the Piston Cup Final. Lightning McQueen’s reckless driving perfectly symbolizes the irresponsibility of his character while also instantly making him likable, even if it’s just for an instant.
While the opening scene is phenomenal, it isn’t able to cover up the movie’s biggest flaw: the characters. Lightning, as a whole, is utterly annoying and unlikeable. While, yes, that might be the point of his character for the larger half of this movie, he does not have one redeemable quality or any sense of charm whatsoever. Even after his character arc is finished, he still remains boring and blank. I think a lot of it has to do with the miscasting of Owen Wilson, whose high pitched, whiny voice crushes any hope of Lightning being an interesting character.
Unfortunately, this unlikeability carries into the majority of the side characters. Most of the Radiator Springs characters are generic stereotypes with no real sense of personality. Even more major characters, like Doc and Sally, spend most of the movie acting like completely irritable jerks. However, there are a few exceptions. As cringy as he may be, Mater is still able to bring the occasional smile. Guido and Luigi bring some sense of life and energy to the cast, and Chick Hicks is such an over-the-top bully that it’s impossible not to love hating him.
As a result of the awful characterization, two-thirds of the movie completely drags and doesn’t pick up again until the final race. Everything about the last race is incredible. Easily, the greatest part of the entire movie is Guido’s legendary pit stop and, even though Lighting is completely unlikeable for most of this movie, when he pushes The King across the finish, it is one of the few times Lightning feels complete as a character.
Overall, “Cars” is just a mess. It’s not quite as boring as “A Bug’s Life,” but it doesn’t come anywhere near to the quality that other 2010’s Pixar movies had. And while it may have its moments, overall, its uninteresting and unlikable characters don’t justify its 2 hour-long runtime.
Rating: Light 3