© Buena Vista International (Germany) GmbH

U.S.A. 2006

Opening 7 Sep 2006

Directed by: John Lasseter
Writing credits: John Lasseter, Joe Ranft
Principal actors: Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Cheech Marin, Tony Shaloub

Americans love their cars and this film is nothing if not a tribute to America’s love affair with automobiles and driving. The problem is cars are cool and animation is great but even Pixar can have too much of a good thing. A world where everything is a car, even bugs are Volkswagens with wings, the gag gets annoying about halfway through standard script number 3: the coming-of-age movie. Our hero Lightning MacQueen (Owen Wilson) is a racing rookie with his eyes on the prize-winning Piston Cup and the lucrative endorsement deal with Dinoco. But he has no friends. I’ll spare you the details of how he ends up in a small town off of Route 66 called Radiator Springs on his way to the Piston Cup race in Los Angeles. Or the standard discourse about how the superhighway changed not only the nature of driving but the course of life in the US. Of course forced out of the real world in Radiator Springs, Lightning finds friendship, love and direction, literally and metaphysically. Radiator Springs has the usual outcasts and eccentrics who have become standard in the coming-of-age movie, be it the war buddy movie or The Breakfast Club. No comment on the one-dimensional personalities or knee jerk stereotypes. Here the crew includes a cute lawyer girl/love interest Porsche from Los Angeles named Sally (Bonnie Hunt), a rusty old Okie 50s truck going by the name of Tow Mater, some sleek 60s Chevrolets with fins - Ramone and his brother from the barrio, the bodacious Flo owner of the V8 bar in town, a cute Cinquecento Italian selling tires and of course the father figure, judge Hank the Hornet, a man with a past. They do their bit and our hero grows up and finds his way to LA. Yes he gets the prize, the girl and friends to boot. This is after all a Disney movie. It is a far cry from the poignancy or intelligence of Toy Story but entirely watchable if what you need is escape. Just go. (Rita Pearson Schwandt)

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