Second Chance: Cars

‘Cars’ has always seemed like the unwanted step child of Pixar. It was the first film they released that actively disappointed and ruined a perfect run they had going for years. I remember watching it as a kid and being really bored. As I grew up, I learnt that most people had this opinion and, if anyone did enjoyed it, it was typically the younger kids. I never gave it another go and missed the subsequent sequels. Fast forward to now, and my girlfriend claims ‘Cars’ is one of the best Pixar film. After laughing in her face for months, I agreed I’d give it another go after we stayed in the ‘Cars’ hotel at Disneyland Paris to see if my older self liked it any more than my younger self did.

Yes, it’s easily the weakest of Pixar’s franchises, but I would now defend it if someone decided to argue it’s a bad film.  

I’ll get it out of the way, I didn’t mind it. I only got bored sporadically and found myself really engrossed in the final race. Yes, it’s easily the weakest of Pixar’s franchises, but I would now defend it if someone decided to argue it’s a bad film. It’s not good, but it’s no worse than average. My main issue with it? None of the characters were that great. Everyone has a favourite ‘Toy Story’ character, Sully and Mike are iconic in ‘Monsters Inc.’, but once the credits rolled, I really struggled to name most of the Cars. Lightning McQueen’s arc was interesting, but he wasn’t a brilliant lead. For me, Mater was kinda annoying after a while, but I get why kids loved him. Doc was probably my favourite, which I’m aware is probably the most boring choice going, but the way he lead the town was brilliant and his relationship with Lightning was great. The film was a bit on the nose about doing the right thing, but Doc didn’t lecture Lightning or the audience into knowing it. For a company that have created some of cinema’s most iconic characters, these lot really fall flat.

 …pick literally any other Pixar franchise and you’ll find a better film, but ‘Cars’ isn’t half as bad as its reputation.   

While I wasn’t a fan of the Cars themselves, I loved the setting of Radiator Springs. This summer, I actually visited the town that inspired it, so perhaps seeing how that transformed onto screen made me appreciate it a lot more. I don’t think it was just this though, as seeing the small town they created with the abundance of jokes about the residents being Cars did make me chuckle. The Cozy Cone Motel and the leaning tower of tyres were the standouts for me. The story itself took place mainly in the town, so I feel that’s why I didn’t mind it too much, even if it was very generic, something Pixar film never usually are. There was one part that did defy expectations which I loved. (Even though this film is twelve years old, I will hide it as it is a spoiler in case you haven’t seen it.)

 

This is my first Second Chance feature and I’m glad my opinion has somewhat changed, even if only slightly. Yes, pick literally any other Pixar franchise and you’ll find a better film, but ‘Cars’ isn’t half as bad as its reputation. Imagine if Christopher Nolan made an average film, you’d find a lot of people being really negative about it as you expect greatness every time from him. That is what happened with ‘Cars’, Pixar made an average film, but because of their legacy, average seems like a crushing disappointment. Is it forgettable? Yes, but it’s really not as bad as it’s made out to be.

Original Score 4/10

Second Chance Score 6/10

Below are a few pictures from my travels and the town that inspired the film have embraced it, mainly by giving their cars eyes. The town is also host a number of awesome little shops and is the proudly part of the ‘Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona’. Fun fact, that man at the bottom is named Angel Delgadillo. He is known as the ‘Guardian Angel of Route 66’ as he began a campaign to save the historic highway. I spoke to him for ages and he is honestly one of the one most interesting people I’ve ever met. He’s also one of the most highly skilled barbers in the entire world. One thing I only learnt recently is that he met John Lasseter (the film’s director) and helped inspire the movie through his passion for the road. 

    

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