A Short Blurb About Pixar's Cars (2006)

I have mixed feelings about Cars. I've found that a certain charm still lingers days after, and goodness knows everything looks terrific. On the other hand, the script is weak, very cliched and formulaic. I wasn't as enamored with Finding Nemo as many other people are (I made the mistake of watching Studio Ghibli's Whisper of the Heart on the same day I watched Nemo), but I don't remember that movie relying so heavily on sitcom routines and '80s movies like Doc Hollywood.

On a deeper level, Cars serves as a metaphor for the Pixar studio. The film was made while the studio was ending their contract with Disney, and wondering what direction they should take. Could they break away, plow their own independent path, and cut a distribution deal with one of the other major studios? Or should they stay with Disney, embrace the corporate behemoth with all its status and money and opportunity.

So we can forgive Cars for offering an ending that's a bit of a copout. It wants to thread the needle, to have it both ways. I don't know if that's possible, and I'm unsure just how much freedom Pixar had in choosing to walk down the aisle with Disney (the other studios balked at a deal). But Lasseter and his crew have their optimistic hopes, and they've made their choice.

To his own credit, Lasseter received the thumbs-up from Miyazaki. Is there any other person, aside from family, whose opinion matters more to him? Likely not.

(Note: I wrote these comments on Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, a great little movie blog that highlighted Conversations on Ghibli in a recent post. So I decided to reprint my Cars thoughts here. Cough, shameless padding, cough. Oh, and for the record, don't change the name!)


Anonymous said...

What you say about Miyazaki's opinion mattering more to John Lasseter than any other person is wrong. Each Pixar director including Lasseter must primarily worry about the opinion of the Pixar brain trust, the group of writers, story artists, producers and directors who are employed by Pixar. This group includes Pete Doctor, Andrew Stanton, and Brad Bird to name only a few.
To a Pixar director the opinion of the brain trust is most important.
To say that anything about Cars is a cop out is very insulting. The film was in production for longer than any other Pixar film and a lot of people put a lot of hard work into it. When was the last time that you actually created something from nothing? It is easy to sit around and criticize the work of others, anyone can watch a film and then write about it, but can you create a film?
I don't think you will ever truly appreciate film until you understand, recognize, and experience all that goes into the creative process of making film.

Anonymous said...

Anyway Cars' script IS weak, at least standing up to Pixar's standards, that's the Pixar movie with less 'magic' among them all... The fact that it was in production more time than any of the other way better Pixar movies means nothing, at least nothing good.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

The amount of time you spend to create something has no bearing on its quality. Some days, the inspiration strikes you in a flash. Other days, you have to dig and dig and dig, and you never feel as though you've found what you were searching for. It's all a part of the mystery of creation, of which human beings are blessed to join.

As always, these things are very subjective. If you enjoyed Cars, great for you. If not, that's okay. There's plenty of food on the table, and not enough time to sample everything.

I find the movie's middle section, in the small town, to be better than the races at the beginning and end, and the scene of the cars dancing on the newly-paved road to be wonderful. An uneven movie overall, but that's only my opinion.

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