Monday, December 12, 2011

#255: Cars

Ka-Chow, the Lightning McQueen celebration cry sums up the experience of watching Cars- a movie about a parallel universe of men and women whose appearance resembles that of everyday cars. So whether is a Porsche or a Ferrari, each car has an accent, a mannerism, a look that sums up the identity of the person. It is sheer brilliance of imagination of the people who thought that they conjure up this parallel universe and keep us interested for a duration of close to two hours.

The more I think about it, I have reason to believe that Cars is the animation equivalent of Lord of the Rings. Here's a world that has been conjured from a concept and then blown up to the extent that it is human emotions that eventually rules the concept and the characters within it. The protagonist here is Lightning McQueen a rookie car driver aiming for the highest honors called The Piston Cup. Mcqueen voiced by Owen Wilson is a good-hearted but ambitious driver looking for his next big sponsor on the circuit. True to any sport film formula, he has his arch rival on the circuit but when a close finish pits him against two other racers in a season finale, McQueen sees it as the perfect opportunity to make that big break. Except that when he is on his way towards the finale, he loses his way and finds himself in a little known town called Radiator Springs. Radiator Springs is a cosy place with nice people and McQueen's brashness finds few takers. His impetuousness sees him grounded to the town and the time he spends there brings him close to a stern Hudson Hornet and a pretty lady called Sally who steals McQueen's heart.

Mind you these are all cars who behave like people and that's the first and foremost reason why Cars effortlessly works its way through your heart. Human emotions rule these cars and love, friendship and honor are values that are on display as much as the technical brilliance of these marvelous vehicles. The climax is deftly put together to tug at those tear glands and boy does it work. The screenplay credits belongs to six people and I can assure you this is surely not a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. If anything, it makes the film richer. The only part that's not convincing enough in the film is the romantic angle between Sally and McQueen that seems too contrived and predictable from the word go. Having said that the animation in showing simple scenes of intimacy is top notch.

Cars is an invention of the mind that's done so well that it deserves an endless run. This year we had Cars 2 and it was as good as its predecessor. Because of the parallel universe of automobiles that the film has created this can be one timeless franchise. Its got everything in place towards that end. Most of all, a first film that sets the tone and a standard so high that its going to be a pleasure just anticipating what's coming next.

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