Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bechtloff Movie Night: Cars 1 & 2

I'm a big fan or Pixar. I think those guys are brilliant story tellers and in an odd way the Cars films and the negative reaction to them from a lot of critics is sort of a testament to just how great Pixar is.

When Cars first came out I had very little interest in it. It looked pretty stupid, especially after the awesome sauce that was Incredibles. But my dad is a big fan of Disney and Pixar and also a mechanic and a car nut so he was reacting to the trailers like a giddy 5 year old. Now going to the movies is one of our bonding things, has been since I was a little kid, so I had to go with him. I thought I was in for 90 minutes of sheer boredom but to my surprise I liked it. The animation was smooth and cute and the visual gags were all pretty solid. Little things made me laugh, like lightning bugs that looked little little glowing Volkswagen Beetles. I can't say I loved it but I was pleasantly surprised.

What's the story to Cars? A famous race car is stuck in a little nowhere town and learns the value of hard work, the simple things in life, and all that other sentimental crap. So it's pretty much just Doc Hollywood with but with a talking race car.

So then Cars 2 came out, same deal, my dad was dieing to see it. I was even more apprehensive. I was almost certain it was going to suck. I mean Pixar might have managed to get one decent movie out of this paper thin premise, but 2? And I was wrong again, well sorta.

First we need to go on a bit of a tangent for a moment and talk about Larry the Cable Guy. A lot of people loath Larry the Cable Guy and I can kinda see why and I'm not a fan either. The odd thing is I actually thought he was pretty funny the first couple of times I saw his stuff. But boy does he wear real thin real fast. He voices the retarded redneck tow truck Tow Mater in these movies, and much like his voice actor Mater can very quickly wear out his welcome. In Cars 1 that's not too much of a problem, as Mater is a sick character, but Cars 2 is very much Mater's movie.

What's the plot to Cars 2? Basically while traveling with his race car buddy Lightning McQueen Mater is mistaken for a spy. And hi jinks ensue.

Cars 2 fails in a lot of ways. First of all it's a Larry the Cable Guy movie. I may be able to take small doses of Larry but not this much. Second of all it's full of toilet humor. Now I don't necessarily mind toilet humor, but I expect a bit more class out of Pixar then that. But also Cars 2 fails in more ways then Cars 1 because Cars 2 tries more. There is a lot of stuff going on in Cars 2 with the whole spy story, and it's kinda more stuff then this thin premise of talking cars can hold up.

So did I like Cars 2? Ehhh, I didn't dislike it. Some of the action scenes with the spy cars were pretty damn cool. It's a decent enough kids movie. I'm glad I saw it, though I don't think I would sit down and watch it again.

So why are these two movies so hated? Because they are OK movies, and Pixar is suppose to make great movies. But I think people have to remember. Cars is a merchandising machine. How much Cars stuff did you see in stores? I still see tons of Cars stuff out there. I mean you slap a cute happy face on a Matchbox car and you got a big seller in the Toys R Us. So Cars kinda helps fund other Pixar movies.

I know Cars 2 is Pixar's worst movie, and Cars 1 is in 2nd place on that list, but are they really that bad? I know they're no Toy  Story or Incredibles, but I contend they're both decent cute little kids movies. And I think it's pretty impressive Pixar took a premise that should probably only have been a 5 minute short before a Pixar movie and turned out two watchable full length movies from it. So like I said, to me the Cars movies are a testament to Pixar's greatness, because their two worst movies are still OK. And how many studios can say that?

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