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"Life is a highway" in my head and on the screen

Posted at 5:08 PM on July 19, 2006 by Euan Kerr

"Cars" ended up on the agenda during the sweltering weekend with the nephew from Scotland. With the Kerr teenagers generally reluctant to be seen dead in the movie theater with the geriatric 'rents, it had been quite a while since I'd hit a kids movie.

Pixar's "Cars" is a mindbender. We have all the standard characters of a "jerk-kid learns his lesson" movie, but they are all played by cars. It takes a little getting used to, but in the end the effect is effective.

It's wonderful to see the way, particularly in the stadium scenes, that individual vehicles morph into living beings.

The voice talent cuts a wide swath through a broad range of actors, going from Paul Newman to George Carlin and Larry the Cable guy. You have to wonder what those recording sessions are like.

Owen Wilson plays the central character "Lightning McQueen" and very appealing he is too. He works well with Newman as the gruff 50's roadster who may have some things to teach Lightning.

Pixar has found a way of appealing to audiences young and old. Its challenge has to be how to build on the success of past movies, and that could be tough. As the closing credits cleverly show their characters from "Toy Story," "Monsters Inc," and "A Bug's Life" can neatly switch around.

But will Pixar be able to keep creating new stories? There is a pretty straight forward formula followed in "Cars." Will the brains that created those great effects also be able to create different tales which will keep people coming back?

One effect that I have not been able to escape is the version of the Tom Cochrane hit "Life Is A Highway" performed by Rascal Flatts which has been running through my head for several days. Life is tough sometimes.

July 2006
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