I did not like the first Cars Pixar film. It reminded me too much of Doc Hollywood and I couldn’t really see the point of the characters being Cars. They had almost entirely human troubles to consider and, frankly, their world made no sense at all. Everything was still geared towards human aesthetics with modifications to make things work for cars, as if the entire world was suddenly abandoned and then, somehow, the Cars gained sentience in the aftermath. It’s mind boggling.
Also, I don’t like Owen Wilson or the preposterously named ‘Larry the Cable Guy.’ But I can look beyond that for a good movie. The first Cars film certainly wasn’t, though.
Cars 2 still makes absolutely no sense. If anything the world is even MORE exaggeratedly adapted to Cars instead of being designed from the start to be for cars. But instead of the story being a City Racer learns to love County Livin’, it was a simpleton character thrust into complex situation and grows to adapt to it. Essentially we’ve changed from Doc Hollywood to The Man Who Knew Too Little. This type of story is infinitely more appealing to me, so I liked it a lot more. Not enough to really consider it a good move, but it is much more enjoyable.
Strangely, as much as I hated the ‘Tow Mater’ character in the first Cars film, he’s more tolerable in this movie, maybe because of his role as protagonist (much to my surprise, Lightning McQueen is not at all the star of this film) or because he seems very much aware that he’s out of his depth for half of the film but gives it his all anyway.
Perhaps this says more about me than the film though. The idea of someone ‘growing’ to like simpler things is crazy to me. What is the point of life if you’re not trying to better yourself and become more brilliant and skilled? If you aren’t learning, you might as well be dead, because the only other possible condition is getting dumber, and that is NEVER preferable.
Yeah, I realize that puts me at the extreme end of a scary scale, but I’m not without sympathy. I understand people who try to get better and fail, and I understand some people will never rise above the bar set by others. But the idea of not trying seems alien to me. We haven’t reached the apex of our civilization yet, nor have we really reached the limits of what our bodies can do. There is exciting, unknown territory out there, but instead of reaching it through sailing ships or mapping plains, we get to it by exploring and expanding our minds. The best part of this is that we don’t even need to be in a lot of danger to do it. So how could you settle for what you have?
Of course, I say this, and really the only thing that is being pushed in my mental exercises right now is trying to decipher films with wacko plotlines. For instance, my wife pointed out that at one point the main characters are trying to identify a car from a picture of its engine compartment. A computer search reveals that the engine in question was in 7 models of cars “built” over 12 years. My wife raised the very valid question: who built the Cars? Are they born and then grow? The computer search seems to indicate that no, they are constructed according to a design. Then how do they end up alive? Because many of the bad guys in the film call for the good guys to be ‘killed’, and I’m just curious how that works. If you rip off the fenders, is the car still alive? Or remove the engine? There are several scenes of cars exploding in the movie, and we are led to believe that those cars are ‘dead.’ But how?
These question, and many, many more, are almost certainly not worth my time to figure out. I just hope this year’s “Brave” film is better than this.