Friday, June 09, 2006


We went to see the 2:00 showing of Cars this afternoon.

I love Pixar. There's my bias. With the possible exception of Finding Nemo, every Pixar feature film has been incredibly inventive, madcap, and wonderful.

So it is particularly painful for me to say that, in comparison, Cars isn't very good.

We were in a packed theater for this film. There was literally a thirty-minute period where almost no one laughed. And there was no need to, because nothing funny was happening.

Past Pixar films had dozens of moments where I burst out laughing. Today, there were three or four. In the entire film. Visually, it was spectacular, to a degree beyond anything Pixar has done before, but it lacked everything else.

Here's what I think went wrong: the movie is an homage to days gone by bookended by a satire of NASCAR, and the NASCAR sections are just bad. They're not funny, they're not clever, and there's basically one joke: everyone's a car. They also drag in a bunch of celebrities to say things that aren't funny at all. It doesn't work as satire or narrative, and it drags the whole movie down.

The middle section of the movie, particularly the last half of the middle section, which takes place in a small town, is much better, but it's still missing the number and quality of unexpected gags that usually make Pixar films so funny. And this movie drags--it's amazing how much time passes between anything that is genuinely clever.

What could they have done? Cars would have been much more charming and potentially much funnier if it had been set in the 1950's or 1960's and had nothing whatsoever to do with NASCAR. That wouldn't have addressed the deficiency of gags, but it would have forced the story in a more interesting direction.

It's still going to gross huge numbers, because it's Pixar, but almost no one is going to think that this is up to the quality of their other work. It's just not.

Site Meter