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Disney Pixar CARS 2: Award Season

Now that we are approaching award season – especially Oscar nominations season, Disney has put together a website for all the films they are seeking nominations for.

Of course, CARS 2 brings up an interesting discussion … of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but for what it’s worth – here are somethings to keep in mind before you judge CARS 2.

When it comes to sequels – of course, people like to say the cliche that sequels never equal or it’s never as good as the book but that brings to mind two dilemmas.

The reason that we want a sequel is that we like the characters and want to spend more time with them (CARS) or are fascinated by them because they seem to live in another world (GODFATHER). However, if the sequel simply repeats the first story, on one hand, it’s what we want and yet, it’s not terribly exciting.

Why bother paying twice to see the same story?

So, if CARS 2 had merely been about Lightning racing on the WGP to win a championship, it would’ve certainly been visually interesting but how much nuance do we want to know about auto racing itself? And what conflicts are really left? He’s already gotten mad at his crew, and he’s learned his lesson about friendship, partnership and being a good citizen – it would’ve been dumb if he forgot all that, right? The racing movies that work are ones where the lives of the characters are intertwined with the racing and we pretty much got all that with CARS.

So, while the racing scenes are visually compelling and we know that Pixar does such an amazing job in getting it right – it was not quite enough of a story and sort of a repeat story … so, you try and add in a storyline with more obvious conflict … and as Mater is really the character that has a broader range of storyline believability versus McQueen (while a good role model is not exactly a terribly exciting character and more of the straight man), cue the spy story which certainly holds much for interest for adults. And a few complain that they vilified big oil (oh my, what’s next – knocking down the legacy of Mother Theresa a peg or two – Pixar has no shame! :lol  ).

But in CARS World … what could be more appropriate? (And for adults, you could argue that the subversive subplot is that maybe alternative energy is really the old emperor with different clothes … ha! So there!  🙂   ).

AND as a sequel expectation, it has to go bigger … again, otherwise, why re-tell the story again?

It also has to work for little kids and adults … but the biggest issue is the expectation of the words PIXAR in front of the film. Most reviews went in with a chip on their shoulder that it must be one of the greatest movies ever made, & it must make a grown man cry. That’s asking a lot. Instead of spouting that Pixar has never not had a miss, how about appreciating their inventive & fun winning streak of entertainment? That yes, many of their films are great but each one is different to everyone. For instance, I enjoyed the dazzling and I mean dazzling animation that was WALL-E but I did not really believe or understand the parts of the movies involving the humans. To me, it was little getting a ride in a Dusenberg – it was otherworldly and wildly different – it was fun but I don’t have a desire to “own” that ride or do it on a daily basis. Just as I appreciate their audacity in having virtually no dialogue in the first 30-minutes of the film, hardly anyone would have the guts to do that … but again, I respect your opinion if you think it’s one of the greatest animated movies ever made as many critics call it that.

But CARS or CARS 2 is not intended to be a dazzling silent movie showcase – it’s a different movie. It has talking cars with eyes – it is what it is. Yes, it’s silly parts and has less pretensions that WALL-E. That’s neither good nor bad – different.

The only question you need to ask – was I entertained? (Instead of being the GLADIATOR and asking – were you NOT entertained?)

Movies are supposed to transport you. But you can’t go in with all the baggage … forget the trailer, forget the guesses on its opening weekend gross and forget you paid $9.99 for a Coke … just watch the movie.

Is CARS 2 a perfect film? No, but neither is SNOW WHITE, TOY STORY or DUDE, WHERE’S MY CAR?

CARS 2 was meant to please all of its audiences: CARS fans wanting bigger; Little kids who want to see Lightning drive fast and Mater do silly things; adults who want a different yet same story with characters they like; collectors want to see characters to diecasts; adults who want a takeaway story as a teachable lesson for their kids; and everyone wants to laugh, cry and have a good time; critics want a new superfruit that cures the common cold because the film starts with the words PIXAR … and cry like a baby who dropped their lollipop.

Yea, that’s a lot to ask.

Sometimes Pixar delivers everything to everybody but other times, a film only hits 8 out the 10 quadrants. It’s certainly not terrible unless you expect the Red Sea to part because it was nice last time you wanted to cross. 🙂

And for those who claim that it’s only done to sell product … well, yes and no in the same sense. Ultimately, no matter how much shilling and selling is done, you make your own decisions. Look at Toy Story – three films beloved by nearly everyone and yes, it sells some toys but maybe 20% of CARS. You will only buy what you want to buy – that’s neither good or bad. Whether we buy merchandise licensed from a film is our individual choice. Remember that hardly anyone thought CARS would sell merchandise past 6 months – now, it seems wildly silly to say a property with talking cars would not be a licensed merchandising hit – especially diecasts but ultimately, consumers decide … just look at all the movies with huge ad campaigns that fail – ultimately, it’s the film.

At the end of the day, CARS 2 was a big success, Most likely the 9th highest grossing film worldwide for 2011. And of course, while critics gave it about a 40% rating, consumers rate it highly on Amazon and iTunes and in its first week, it outsold Captain American Blu Ray 5 to 1. We won’t have a final sales number until later. And I think it plays better on your TV screen as people have lower expectations when watching it on the TV. 🙂

You are certainly entitled to your opinion on CARS 2 – love, indifference or hate but you can still appreciate the dedication to the craft and artistry to amuse and entertain us … look at some scenes in the film that are not really even the big showcase scenes (no explosions) – all appear for about 3 seconds before panning down or cutting away to another scene …

The obvious stuff is the different advertising and signs but look at the detailing to make the neon seem that much real – it’s not flat, or just a single color as they could’ve easily done or even some of them without the “neon light bars” to save a little time or effort … or that you can literally see every brick in that building … every square mm of that frame is done to the last detail including seeing the light through the mostly drawn windows shades … AND the drop ceiling panel divider lines … why? Is there another way?

Same with the casino ceiling … another 2-second shot – who else would make every car “gargoyle” DIFFERENT? Or that mural at the end – look closely, that literally a complete mural that like a real mural tells a complete story but really, you barely see in the theater because the pan down is quick … That mural could’ve been a lazy drawing of a CAR with some clouds – would you have even look twice or care? But yet, Pixar knows you know if they don’t do it. Every square pixel is filled – why? Because they know that’ll you’ll know. So before you are quick to dismiss with a quick wave of your hand that you’ve seen it all, appreciate the dazzling artistry and dedication in an attempt to entertain you. To LITERALLY create a world from NOTHING. Just for you (and you).

Here is a recent John Lasseter interview with Collider.com …

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5 December 2011 Disney Pixar, Disney Pixar CARS 3 10 Comments


  • I-LUV-CARS says:

    I totally agree that Pixar always goes all out on their detail. Even watching it once and not catching alot of the little things I could tell they did a phenomenal job on that movie! Really the thing that most bothered me was the violence (in a sence). I was very disappointed with the car “deaths”. Pixar has never had a scene with torture and death before. Sure people have died but not like that. I know they are just cars but it still hit me. Forgive me for being so sensitive (I am very serious about movies!). The second thing I was a little disappointed about was the fact they did not bring back a lot of the characters I wanted to see again (like Chick, the King, DJ, Wingo, Boost, Snot Rod ect). But other than that, I was totally hooked with the collectables! I, for the most part, loved the characters they put in the movie and I had to have them with my Cars 1!

    (MET: I’m not disagreeing with you but there were a lot of deaths in The Incredibles though that was rated PG).

  • John says:

    Interesting, the entire Cars 2 screenplay is available as a .PDF download on this site. I can finally catch some of the more muffled dialog.

  • Tom says:

    All that being said, I still don’t like the talk of Cars being “killed” in the movie…

  • hostile takeover banker says:

    That’s a great post. Right now, I prefer Cars 2 a lot more than Cars 1.

  • LUCA says:

    i love his shirt…

  • cac1959 says:

    There is definitely some neat artwork and attention to detail in Cars2…

  • John in Missouri says:

    There’s no question in my mind that Pixar should win for Technical Achievement, but Best Animated Picture? Since the original “Cars” didn’t win, I’d have to say no way to “Cars 2”.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

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