The Pixar resume continues to grow with the new film “Cars,” a delightful animated film that is smart enough to play to adults while entertaining kiddies, too.
“Cars” tells the story of Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), a cocky rookie racecar about to win the coveted Piston Cup.
On the way to the deciding race, McQueen gets sidetracked and winds up in the small town of Radiator Springs.
At first, McQueen spurns the town's inhabitants, but eventually he learns to respect and bond with the community.
“Cars” is a gorgeous movie to watch, with beautiful sweeping animation and a clear visual eye that distinguishes Pixar from other animation studios.
The film also features a great cast. Wilson is very good as McQueen and Paul Newman proves to be the perfect voice for Doc Hudson, the town's leader with a racing past of his own.
“Cars” features good voice work from Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy and Cheech Marin as well.
While the story is interesting and flows smoothly, my biggest complaint was the running time. “Cars” clocks in at just over two hours - a marathon to little kids.
My son didn't seem to mind, but younger children were getting pretty antsy by the time “Cars” reached its finale.
Still, it's a small flaw for a film that manages to entertain. Children will love the “Toy Story”-like simplicity, but adults will appreciate the humor aimed right in their direction (a “Freebird” reference immediately comes to mind). Combined with the enjoyable “Over the Hedge,” “Cars' ” success makes it a pretty good summer for family films.
Starring: (voices of) Owen Wilson, Paul Newman
Directed by: John Lasseter and Joe Ranft
Playing at: Great Escape 12, Franklin Drive-in, Highland Cinemas (Glasgow)
DVD dandy of the week
This week's dandy is “Syriana,” (A) writer/director Stephen Gaghan's complex thriller that challenges its audience with a fascinating story woven among several plot threads.
“Syriana” unfolds against the backdrop of two powerful U.S. oil companies.
A merger would make the company a major player in the Persian Gulf, but the government must first approve the deal. The company hires a corporate lawyer (Jeffrey Wright) to make sure no problems occur with the merger. Meanwhile, a CIA operative (George Clooney) starts to question his work after an attempt on the life of a wealthy Arab prince (Alexander Siddig) backfires.
Other story lines include an oil broker (Matt Damon) who takes up a partnership with the prince and a Pakistani teenager (Mazhar Munir) recruited by a terrorist cell.
For the first half of the film, these stories all seem to be pulling in different directions, but to Gaghan's credit, the story comes together nicely in the second half.
“Syriana” is full of outstanding performances. Clooney, who won an Academy Award, is very good as the paranoid agent, whose worries prove accurate. Wright is impressive as the lawyer who faces several moral dilemmas during his investigation, Tim Blake Nelson has one of the year's great soapbox moments as a corrupt senator and Munir presents his character sympathetically.
It's a film that will cause its audience to reflect and perhaps evoke healthy debate among friends. Not too many movies can challenge an audience with such effectiveness, but “Syriana” does in a powerful and provocative manner.
“Syriana” is rated R for violence and language and is available on DVD on Tuesday.