If we are to label ‘Cars’ the weakest of Pixars films it should mot be said without qualification. To date Pixar and any other animators have created worlds numbered by ants, monsters, fairy tale folk and any other number of characters which have distinguishable human characteristics, they have faces, eyes and some number of appendages through which they can convey emotions, reactions and give depth to characters. The world of ‘Cars’ is just that, full of cars and to have created a stable of characters, easily identifiable and design them so that we believe they are live and struggling characters is commendable.
The creation of the car characters is only a tangent of a broader discussion of the look of the film. From the opening shot I was overwhelmed by the glorious look and colour of the film. From the intensity and bustle of car racing sequences to the great open expanses of middle America, coupled with Danny Elfman’s score no amount of protestation would convince me anyone could resist being caught up in the furore and the calm- you have already got the message of the film before its spelt out to the leading character. Look even at the opaque and monotone look of the city in the concluding scenes of ‘The Incredibles’ or the block of computer graphics that are suppose to be glaciers in ‘Ice Age 2', I could not level such criticism at one such scene in ‘Cars’.
Most importantly,‘Cars’ does continue Pixars tradition of saying something new. Even when ‘Shrek’ was heralded as an innovation in film making with its ridiculing of Disney and ironic twists on fairytales it was nothing more than a road trip, journey of growth, only living happily ever after when you found someone to marry you. Cars focuses on the impact a bypass has on the economy of a small town and more broadly, how distracted and detached we can become by the drone of getting through and forget to live. It’s a real and relatable story so that while 'Cars’ may be relegated to the lower echelons of Pixar’s output, the heart and virtue in the story and the dutiful filmmaking on display deserves recognition.