screenplay by John Lasseter & Philip Loren & Kiel Murray
directed by John Lasseter
by Walter Chaw Soulless and anchorless, Pixar's Cars is the company's first all-around failure. It's got something to do with the lack of a human grounding: the only other time Pixar stumbled was with its similarly bleak A Bug's Life (that picture resorting, like Cars, to racial caricature as its primary tentpole), which is also the only other time the company has neglected to ground its story with homo sapien ballast. It's telling that a company pioneering machine-tooled animation so relies on that hint of humanity for its effectiveness; in its place, Cars resorts to cheap name-games (all the cities are car-parts except, dubiously, Los Angeles) as its primary gag and relies on a string of racing in-jokes (Darrell Cartrip, get it? Yeah, me neither) to lubricate its worn-down gears. It's the product of the "Larry the Cable Guy" school of redneck effacement tacked onto a tired redemption romantic comedy, even more tired fish-out-of-water malarkey, and finally an inexplicable blanket criticism of all things urban. Sub-vaudeville gags with weak payoffs and rudderless execution are the things one would rightly expect from a DreamWorks flick--pity that their strain of high-concept lack of inspiration seems to respect no host.