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C-C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER
June 24, 2011 11:42 AM   Subscribe

It was bound to happen eventually. After a quarter-century, 26 Academy Awards, and an unparalleled streak of eleven artistic and commercial triumphs, Pixar's latest project, Cars 2, is Certified Rotten. Critics have assailed the film as a slick but hollow vehicle for Disney's $10 billion-dollar Cars merchandising industry "lifestyle brand," replacing the original's serviceable tale of small-town redemption with zany spy games, hyperactive chase sequences, and even more lowbrow aww-shucks potty humor from Larry the Cable Guy. But it's not all bad news! Along with a fun new Toy Story 3 short, preceding today's (3-D) premiere showings is a first look at next year's Brave -- a darkly magical original story set in ancient Scotland featuring the studio's first female lead (and director). Evocative high-res concept art [mirror] is available at the official website, and character sketches have leaked to the web, with the apparently striking teaser trailer sure to follow. Also, be sure not to miss the sneak peak of Brave's associated short, "La Luna"!
posted by Rhaomi (263 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
A Pixar film involving cars, you say? I'm not aware of any such thing.

And I plan on keeping it that way.
posted by Trurl at 11:44 AM on June 24, 2011 [18 favorites]


Actually, Brenda Chapman has been replaced as director of Brave.
posted by matt_od at 11:44 AM on June 24, 2011


Final Cars Pro
posted by hal9k at 11:45 AM on June 24, 2011 [18 favorites]


Man, who greenlit the hiring of Larry the Cable Guy?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:46 AM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I blame the Mouse.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:47 AM on June 24, 2011


Well, sell out to Disney, and the selling out has only just started.
posted by Malor at 11:47 AM on June 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Grand Theft Cars.

I thought Cars was mediocre and easily Pixar's worst movie, and I was disappointed when I learned that a Pixar-movie's worth of time, energy, and talent had gone into a sequel.

We'll always have The Incedibles.
posted by Zed at 11:48 AM on June 24, 2011 [17 favorites]


A true sell-out would be "Finding Nemo II". If they can avoid that trap, I will remain interested in Pixar.
posted by chavenet at 11:49 AM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whoa, the movie posits a universe in which automobiles defecate? Unusual.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:49 AM on June 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's interesting that Cars, being perhaps Pixar's worst movie (though seemingly not nearly as bad as its sequel) made the studio and distributor the most revenue in spite of itself. There are no accountants for taste.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:50 AM on June 24, 2011 [19 favorites]


I'm kind of glad. Maybe now they'll work on original content and/or sequels to good films instead of just fast tracking a sequel because it will sell a lot of Legos Lego Brand Bricks and Matchbox cars.

I hope everyone at Pixar is saying "I TOLD YOU SO" to the muckity mucks who insisted on this.
posted by bondcliff at 11:50 AM on June 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


Watched the first one again recently, and yep, it is a depressing, flat, dumb film.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:51 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


a slick but hollow vehicle

I see what you did there.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 11:51 AM on June 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


The conscious, rational part of my brain was pretty sure that this was going to be awful. Oddly, though, there was still a small part of me that was hoping it might actually be good, and that if anyone could pull it off Pixar could.

Oh well.
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:51 AM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man, even the short is using recycled material? It's like they just wrote off 2011 years ago. "fuck it, let's just make something that will sell more toys." Pixar has made a lot of fun stuff, but it's kind of disheartening that they have made such a big misstep. The one thing Pixar understood was story, and I had hope for this film, mostly because the first Cars wasn't great. There was room to expand. I can't imagine a sequel to Finding Nemo or The Incredibles, but Cars had potential.
posted by nushustu at 11:51 AM on June 24, 2011


I'm going out on a limb here, but I don't think they made this movie for discerning adults.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:52 AM on June 24, 2011 [15 favorites]


It's still going to make a metric ass-load of cash.
posted by Mister_A at 11:52 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


When we heard Cars 2 was coming out, we thought, okay, there must be something to it if they're making another, so we finally bit the bullet and downloaded Cars. We turned it off after 10 minutes. What an awful film.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:53 AM on June 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Watched the first one again recently, and yep, it is a depressing, flat, dumb film.

Oh, come now. Cars isn't on par with most of Pixar's other work, but it's a perfectly decent children's film and a solid B+ effort. In comparison to Pixar's usual A+ work, sure, it's a bit of a disappointment. But it's not objectively bad by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by mightygodking at 11:53 AM on June 24, 2011 [23 favorites]


Never understood all the love for WALL-E.
posted by davebush at 11:54 AM on June 24, 2011 [12 favorites]


Also wanted to point out that Pixar is in the movie business, which is at heart a business.
posted by Mister_A at 11:54 AM on June 24, 2011


I hope everyone at Pixar is saying "I TOLD YOU SO" to the muckity mucks who insisted on this.

It's very possible that in a year from now when they are swimming around in a pile of money all McDuck style, the muckity mucks will be the ones saying "I TOLD YOU SO".
posted by Winnemac at 11:54 AM on June 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


Disney doesn't care about the Cars franchise having any actual QUALITY. It makes them a shit-ton of money and high muckymucks at Disney probably put the thumb-screws to a reluctant Pixar crowd (including Lassetter) in exchange for giving them more money to do more risky fare (like Brave).
posted by chimaera at 11:54 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Last week I downloaded a copy of "Cinderella," an old Max Fleischer short with Betty Boop. The animation was more imaginative, more hallucinatory, more mind-bending than ANYTHING I've seen come from Pixar, the "Ice Age" crowd or any other digital source, for that matter.

And damn it, "Mater" is Latin for "Mother"; it's what I call MY mother. That painfully unfunny, engineered-to-be-cute but still lowbrow towtruck thing is an ABOMINATION and should NOT be called "Mater".

A minor point, but it really bugs me.
posted by kinnakeet at 11:55 AM on June 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


... a universe in which automobiles defecate?

Come on, I see car shit by the side of the road all the time.

and I breath in the moral equivalent of car-piss.
posted by lodurr at 11:55 AM on June 24, 2011


I loved it. It was better than CATS.
posted by mattbucher at 11:55 AM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


He's called Mater because it's short for Tomato.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:56 AM on June 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


Fuck disney.

And also, fuck their zombified 1950s-esque car-centric vision of utopia. They're foisting bad urban planning paradigms on our children!
posted by schmod at 11:56 AM on June 24, 2011 [19 favorites]


Regarding Brave: apart from Coraline, I can't think of any animated movie where the lead female isn't some kind of princess (or chief's daughter).
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:56 AM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Maybe so, shakespeherian. But it still bugs the Hell out of me.
posted by kinnakeet at 11:56 AM on June 24, 2011


He's called Mater because it's short for Tomato.
If this isn't a joke, please shoot me in the head.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:56 AM on June 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


My three and five year old grand-nephews don't read Rotten Tomatoes but they've seen the first movie a hundred times and gobs of Cars merchandise and I'm sure that they'll be dragging Grandma to at least one showing this weekend. It's going to make a ton of money.
posted by octothorpe at 11:57 AM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's a complete guess, but I blame the co-director.
posted by lemuring at 11:57 AM on June 24, 2011


As someone who never really drank the Pixar Kool-Aid, this is probably good news overall. Now instead of the tired narrative critics parade out about how Pixar is magical and never makes mistakes we can discuss each movie on its relative merits. I bet even Pixar is tired of trying to keep up that unsustainable metric.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:57 AM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's very possible that in a year from now when they are swimming around in a pile of money all McDuck style, the muckity mucks will be the ones saying "I TOLD YOU SO".

Right, but who will they be saying it to? From what I can see, most of the people at Pixar love it there for the very specific and explicit reason that they get to play a significant role in building things they think are wonderful. If that sense goes away, so will the people.
posted by lodurr at 11:58 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


On Metacritic, which is more accurate, it rates as having "Mixed reviews". Definitely the end of a streak of consensus acclaim, but not necessarily a rotten movie.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:58 AM on June 24, 2011


You think they took a dive, 2bucksplus?
posted by Mister_A at 11:58 AM on June 24, 2011


It's interesting that Cars, being perhaps Pixar's worst movie (though seemingly not nearly as bad as its sequel) made the studio and distributor the most revenue in spite of itself. There are no accountants for taste.

It's really not that shocking. Cars has to be the absolute most merchandise-able film Pixar has ever made, and it appeals hugely to kids, for whom an obsession with vehicles is pretty common. (my 4.5-year-old nephew is absolutely disturbingly obsessed with the original movie, and I don't even want to know how many times he's seen it and listened to the soundtrack).

So, it's disappointing, but not shocking. The real question is whether Pixar can continue to make good films after Cars 2, or if this signals the first blood in the water as Disney execs realize they can just jettison Pixar's reputation for quality and pump out crap to make a mint.
posted by tocts at 11:58 AM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


If this isn't a joke, please shoot me in the head.

It's even worse: "Mater" is short for "tow-mater". Because he's a tow truck, get it?

Where would you like to be shot now?
posted by skymt at 11:59 AM on June 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


Yes, it is "mater" as in tomato. Not a Latin reference. The truck is a hillbilly.
posted by josher71 at 12:00 PM on June 24, 2011


77% of the audience (as of now) liked it.

It doesn't really matter what the critics think.
posted by Curious Artificer at 12:00 PM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


My 3-year-old loves the first Cars movie, and has watched it enough times to basically be able to recite it start-to-finish.
We'll go see Cars 2, and he'll love it, and I will find joy in my son being happy.

It doesn't matter what I think of the movie.

Personally I like to think of it as a post-apocalyptic Matrix/Terminator-ish future where the machines became sentient, wiped out the human race, yet ironically inherited all of the Old Customs. Much more enjoyable to watch it in that context.
posted by jozxyqk at 12:01 PM on June 24, 2011 [35 favorites]


Never understood all the love for WALL-E.

The first thirty minutes or so are Chaplinesque perfection, and redeem the rest of the movie, IMO.

Cars was, well, awful, by Pixar standards. I'm not surprised to see that the sequel is getting panned. But it'll move freighters full of toys, and that's all that matters. If Cars 2 is what we have to endure to get to the next Incredibles, Up, or Finding Nemo, I'm OK with that. It's not like anyone is forcing me to see it (because I don't have kids, see?).
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:03 PM on June 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Cars is the only Pixar flick I haven't seen, though I've heard many accounts of its addictive hold on young children (especially boys).

I'm with tocts et al, ultimately, in that I fear what this means for Pixar's future. If you can make crap and sell it for more of a profit than you'd make off the good stuff, then a suit's decision is more or less always going to be on the side of the crap. So I'm afraid it was a nice run while it lasted, but we're not likely to see a lot more masterpieces out of Pixar.
posted by lodurr at 12:03 PM on June 24, 2011


77% of the audience (as of now) liked it.

It doesn't really matter what the critics think.


Actually, I think it does, to a certain extent. The critics being generally negative about it means that it'll probably do less repeat business (those 77% who saw it opening weekend really *wanted* to like it, flash back to The Phantom Menace to see that effect in action), but they probably didn't like it enough to (let their kids make them) go back again. And people who were on the fence will probably say "eh, I'll wait for the Blu-Ray." I predict underperformance compared to Disney's sky high expectations at the box office.
posted by chimaera at 12:04 PM on June 24, 2011


Cars always struck me as the most derivative of Pixar's movies. It seems like it's basically Doc Hollywood with anthropormophic cars ... and although the name of the film escapes me, I'm pretty sure that Doc Hollywood is itself suspiciously similar to another, older movie.

Everyone needs to pay the bills, I guess.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:05 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hope you have a nerf gun nearby, because this could hurt:

Mater runs "Tow Mater Towing and Salvage."
posted by pwnguin at 12:05 PM on June 24, 2011


Actually, Brenda Chapman has been replaced as director of Brave.

Any gossip on what actually went on here? The intertubes are pretty vague.
posted by Think_Long at 12:06 PM on June 24, 2011


Elmo, Nemo, Thomas, and so many more have crossed our security perimeter but, thankfully, the one vampire we have managed to avoid inviting into our home has been Cars. I'm sorry - I love many things that Pixar has done, but the bit of Cars that I have seen, combined with billions of abomination dollars worth of products, makes me loathe and fear it. Cars II, seemingly, only goes to reinforce my contempt.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:06 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I only watched about 1 minute of the first film because it was so goddam loud and obnoxious. It's about a race car--have you ever been to a NASCAR race?? They're so goddam loud! Just what an excitable 3-year old needs: an animated Doc Hollywood that is really, really loud. I'll stick with Ratatouille.
posted by mattbucher at 12:06 PM on June 24, 2011


We weren't interested in cars, but our neighbor told us that it was GREAT! and that even if you aren't into cars and Nascar (we aren't), you would LOVE it! And your kids will LOVE it! And, with that endorsement and since it was Pixar, so we gave Cars a shot.

Our least favorite animated movie ever.

Though, to be fair, we didn't see Speed Racer.

And Cars 2 has some crazy-ass secret agent plot. What are they smoking over there in Mouseland?
posted by misha at 12:06 PM on June 24, 2011


I read an article that I can't find now that suggested the reason for Pixar's success was it's appeal to dads. The idea being that it's easy to get kids to want to see a movie. And when kids want to see a movie, often it's the mom or grandparents who end up taking them. But if they can get the dad interested, then the whole family gets to go. Which is why all of the Pixar films feature male protagonists instead of princesses.

It sounds a little bit like hooey, but I dunno.
posted by nushustu at 12:06 PM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'll bet the Village Voice loves it.
posted by mazola at 12:07 PM on June 24, 2011


> Regarding Brave: apart from Coraline, I can't think of any animated movie where the lead female isn't some kind of princess (or chief's daughter).

Check out Hayao Miyazaki's films - for example, the heroine of Spirited Away is an ordinary girl who succeeds through perseverance and strength of character.
posted by needled at 12:07 PM on June 24, 2011 [12 favorites]


It just might be one of the rare film that's better dubbed.

I saw it in French and was delighted, thought it was way better than the first one. Blissfully Cable Guy-free, it hit the same pleasure centers as watching old dubbed Bond movies. Then I saw it in English and it just felt crass, it had lost that level of cheesiness that made it enjoyable.
posted by Freyja at 12:08 PM on June 24, 2011


Cars wasn't the best animated movie ever made, but my autistic son with a particular fascination for all things with wheels loves it. His grandparents are still increasing Pixar's profit every day. I don't particularly want to see it, but I will, more than once, because my kid wants to. Pixar knows that this is the case for most families with young children.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 12:09 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


So... my son is 2.5ish and he loves Cars, both the movie and the physical things. Take away what you want from my parenting skills what you want at the fact that he knows what the movie is at his age.

So last week my wife bought the book for Cars 2. I know everything that happens in it. It is odd. ODD. It is so odd, that my wife and I are kind of happy that while our daughter is being brought officially into the world, Grandma will be taking our son to see the movie (his first in the theatre) wierd.

The book is totally out of left field, but not like the good kind of left field. It starts out whith a "huh?" and goes to a "what?" and then somewhere to a "Was the presence of Paul Newman the sane anchor of the franchise?" Seriously. It is unrecognizable from the first film in plot, message, or on any kind of existence. And yes, you can tell this by reading the book... seriously.... get thee to a book store, look in the kid's section, and start your head scratching.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:10 PM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


jozxyqk: "Personally I like to think of it as a post-apocalyptic Matrix/Terminator-ish future where the machines became sentient, wiped out the human race, yet ironically inherited all of the Old Customs. Much more enjoyable to watch it in that context."

I do this for all my child's media consumption!

Guess How Much I Love You? A rabbit raises his clone as a son.
Winnie the Pooh? DSM-IV explained for kids.
Once Upon a Potty? Veiled references to 1984-style surveillance in airplane bathrooms.

etc.
posted by mkb at 12:11 PM on June 24, 2011 [27 favorites]


I don't enjoy movies about animate cars, but mine is the minority view on this. Americans love cars, and they have an almost sexual preoccupation with NASCAR. Cars made a lot of money for Pixar. Cars 2 will make a lot more money for Disney. I doubt anybody had to put the hard sell on Pixar management to do another Cars movie. They go where the money is, same as any other businesspeople.

I will be happy if Pixar is able to alternate between high-concept and mass-market releases. Next year's Brave looks to fall squarely in the former bucket, so I am content.
posted by killdevil at 12:12 PM on June 24, 2011


I heard it's wheel-y good!


I'm guessing I'll never get the chance to use that, so I'll just throw that out there
posted by mazola at 12:12 PM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Pixar's latest project, Cars 2, is Certified Rotten... lowbrow aww-shucks potty humor from Larry the Cable Guy.

I'm shocked! Who would have thought that casting a racist, jingoistic fake-southerner in a kids movie would end badly?
posted by quin at 12:13 PM on June 24, 2011


The Pixar guys I have met genuinely love the first Cars, and don't understand why it took a bit of a critical drubbing. And, as I recall, there are a lot of classic car freaks and Route 66 fanatics on staff, so it might have been the sort of film that caused jolts of pleasure in the filmmakers themselves that weren't shared by audience members who don't also have those interests.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:14 PM on June 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


killdevil: "Americans love cars, and they have an almost sexual preoccupation with NASCAR."

Cars is a terrible movie for Americans. No matter the level of Lightning McQueen's success, the thing that signifies the town coming back to life is a visit from MICHAEL SCHUMACHER AS A FERRARI.
posted by mkb at 12:15 PM on June 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Nthing the others who recognize that their kids love it and it will sell not only tickets but also a quadrillion die-cast vehicles which underwrites Pixar's general awesomeness. But I came here to drop a hint for parents sitting through the film: Amuse yourself pondering the deeper mysteries of the Cars universe, such as this.
posted by dust of the stars at 12:16 PM on June 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


Pixar having retitled The Bear and the Bow to Brave makes me sad. Yeah, we saw Braveheart. It's Scotland, see? Look at the woad!
posted by Justinian at 12:16 PM on June 24, 2011


picking nits, I know, but: wouldn't there be something wrong with a character named "Ferrari" having a german accent?
posted by lodurr at 12:17 PM on June 24, 2011


Thank you, dust of the stars!
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 12:18 PM on June 24, 2011


If only they ratcheted up the satire level of this film one tiny little bit and turned it into a cautionary tale of the social and ecological dangers of car-based societies, teaching car-loving youngsters to think critically about even the objects of their obsession...

...but I suppose that would displease the backers, wouldn't it.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 12:19 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really hate the toys - each car costs more than 5 bucks, and my kids love them.

Pixar is okay, but I never understood why they have to insert a villain into most of their movies (Up; Toys 1,2 3; Wall-E; Incredibles, etc).

Miyazaki does just fine with children, critics, audiences, and his bank, by allowing moral ambiguity in all of his animated movies.

So I'm another one of those people who does not understand all the love for Pixar (although Up was a really well-crafted story).
posted by KokuRyu at 12:21 PM on June 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


> It's even worse: "Mater" is short for "tow-mater". Because he's a tow truck, get it?

I think it's interesting that a movie which has a character named "Towmater" has been rated by the users of a website called Rotten Tomatoes.

> And damn it, "Mater" is Latin for "Mother"; it's what I call MY mother.

"Mater" could also be considered, in English, as an adjective or noun describing someone or naming who mates.

Not sure what to make of that...
posted by mmrtnt at 12:22 PM on June 24, 2011


I'm shocked! Who would have thought that casting a racist, jingoistic fake-southerner in a kids movie would end badly?

One of the many depressing things about the original Cars movie was the god-awful ethnic/racial stereotypes.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:24 PM on June 24, 2011


I thought Cars was kind of a pleasing-enough love letter to Route 66, which is a weird thing for a kids' movie to be about, but formed sort of the heart of it. I don't think I'd ever have paid money to see it, but it was on demand one day I was home sick and I watched it and didn't regret the time spent watching it. That said, it was easily the worst Pixar movie I've seen (I've seen all of them but Cars 2), which still put it far ahead of most of the other CG kids' movies I've happened into seeing recently. There wasn't really anything in Cars to justify all the vitriol; even Larry the Cable Guy, a toilet of a person if ever there was one, was used judiciously and to decent effect.

Long story short, what happened with Cars is that Pixar seems to have snuck a love letter to Route 66 into what was basically a cash grab. The optimist in me tends to want to give them the benefit of the doubt - if making movies like Cars and Cars 2 (which to be fair I have no intention of seeing, even for free) allows them to make more risky things like Wall-E (a half-hour with no dialogue and a depiction of humans as overfed, infantile consumers), then hey, all right. No one's holding a gun to my head and making me see it, I guess.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:24 PM on June 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


Looking back through Pixar's movies, I am forced to conclude that I'm pretty "meh" on Pixar's movies overall.

Toy story? Well, in 1995 what geek wouldn't be all about an all-CG movie, whatever the plot? Similarly, I recall that when I saw Monsters, Inc. (2001) all I could concentrate on was how cool the hair was. Possibly technical achievements in their time, but I'd probably rather re-watch Ghost in the Shell (1995) or Spirited Away (2001) than the Pixar movies of the same years, and that's limiting myself to choosing from cartoons with computer animation techniques.

I can't even remember any specifics of A Bug's Life that I'm sure aren't elements of Antz. The stories in Finding Nemo, Cars, Ratatouille, WALL-E and Up were "meh" at best. (I utterly failed to suspend disbelief at the worlds of both WALL-E and Up)

Of course, Finding Nemo is the movie that has singlehandedly ruined all visits to all aquariums forever, since the kids all squee when they locate the clownfish in the exhibit. (will that die down in another 5-10 years?)

I have no idea whether I'd enjoy The Incredibles on a second viewing or not.

…and I hate to think how irritated I'd be by any of those movies if I lived with children and had the misfortune of hearing the soundtrack 10 or 100 times over the years. I can only assume that the hatred would be white-hot in its intensity.
posted by jepler at 12:25 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cars was the last film made by Pixar before it was bought by Disney. It's unsurprising that Disney would want to turn it into a franchise.

jozxyqk: "My 3-year-old loves the first Cars movie, and has watched it enough times to basically be able to recite it start-to-finish."

My son just saw it recently for the first time and likes it. His favorite shirt and pajamas are Cars-themed. But give him the choice between Cars and almost anything else and he usually won't choose the movie.

There are a few subtleties in the first move that eagle-eyed viewers will pick up on. Any time a jet is shown on screen, the contrails are tire marks. All the insects shown are little Volkswagon Bugs (during the end credits, one flies into the camera.) McQueen's tires are "Lightyears." Jeremy "Ari Gold" Piven was the voice of McQueen's agent.... and imo the entire movie is worth watching just for this scene during the credits, where John Ratzenberger pokes fun at himself and Pixar.
posted by zarq at 12:26 PM on June 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


Pixar is okay, but I never understood why they have to insert a villain into most of their movies (Up; Toys 1,2 3; Wall-E; Incredibles, etc). Miyazaki does just fine with children, critics, audiences, and his bank, by allowing moral ambiguity in all of his animated movies.


?....I've definitely gotten "moral ambiguity" from a lot of the "villains" in Pixar films as well.

* The food critic in Ratatouille? He was just taking his job too seriously until a dish of ratatouille reminded him of how simple food can please us.
* Toys? Weren't the "bad guys" mainly toys who'd been horribly hurt and betrayed and were lashing out at others as a result?
* Up? Wasn't he not just "a villain", but rather "someone who was trying to do the right thing but his passion got the better of him"?
* And as for Incredibles? That film is about superheros to begin with, so you're already in a comedically larger-than-life place to begin with.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:27 PM on June 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Damn, I'm kinda embarrassed to admit that I love Cars. The first ten minutes sets it all up, but I guess you had to grow up in the southwest or something to appreciate all the route 66 references and the like.

I never knew Cars was a bad movie!
posted by roboton666 at 12:27 PM on June 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Who would have thought that casting a racist, jingoistic fake-southerner in a kids movie would end badly?
Thank God, someone else who recognizes his accent as a horribly fake one put on by someone who clearly never lived in the South. It makes me crazy.

Having said that, I'm pretty sure he was in the first movie too and it did alright for the giant marketing machine.
posted by Lame_username at 12:27 PM on June 24, 2011


eleven artistic and commercial triumphs

I'd say more like eleven popular and commercial triumphs. The audience is still 77% positive on this one so far (per RT).

A Pixar film involving cars, you say? I'm not aware of any such thing.

And I plan on keeping it that way.


I'd like to keep it that way too ... I have a 3 y.o. ^_^

First I heard of the movie was this morning, when I fished a Datebook out of the recycling bin and the Cars movie was reviewed on the front page.

Looking back through Pixar's movies, I am forced to conclude that I'm pretty "meh" on Pixar's movies overall.

Honestly, de gustibus and all that, but I don't get Pixar at all. While some of them look cool, I don't really like any of them and I hated The Incredibles and Ratatouille (fell asleep). Wall-E had a great start, but fizzled. Finding Nemo I guess was the best.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:32 PM on June 24, 2011


Curious Artificer: “77% of the audience (as of now) liked it. It doesn't really matter what the critics think.”

I don't know where you got that number. It seems like it'd be very difficult to measure how much an audience likes a film except by box office dollars, and there hasn't been time to know those yet.

Also, yes, it does matter what the critics think. People normally don't care that much about a bunch of average reviews, but movies that get roundly lampooned as bombs usually fail. This one is starting to get a reputation. We'll see where that goes.
posted by koeselitz at 12:33 PM on June 24, 2011


Think "Mater" is a dumb name? How'd you like it to be your actual nickname?
posted by Camofrog at 12:33 PM on June 24, 2011


I guess the feeling I get from Pixar is what I got from the Dave Mathews Band in the 90s: the fans always assume you agree all their stuff is AWESOME, and can't understand why some people don't like it.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:34 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I dunno. It's not my favorite Pixar movie, but I kind of like Cars. The story is actually very sweet. It seems to me that it is one of the only Pixar films actually written primarily for little kids (holy crap was Toy Story 3 scary- waaaay too intense for my toddler). We'll be taking toddlerbeagle to see Cars 2 regardless of the reviews since he'll be happy just to see the talking cars and I imagine even a bad Pixar movie will be much more tolerable for the adults than pretty much any other kid's movie.
posted by rebeccabeagle at 12:35 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


koeselitz: " Also, yes, it does matter what the critics think. People normally don't care that much about a bunch of average reviews, but movies that get roundly lampooned as bombs usually fail. This one is starting to get a reputation. We'll see where that goes."

And sometimes you get a Transformers 2. 20% on RT. Box office take: $402M
posted by zarq at 12:36 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


* The food critic in Ratatouille? He was just taking his job too seriously until a dish of ratatouille reminded him of how simple food can please us.

Agreed

* Toys? Weren't the "bad guys" mainly toys who'd been horribly hurt and betrayed and were lashing out at others as a result?

The villain in Toys 1 was the kid next door; Toys 2 villain was Newman; Toys 3 villain was Huggy Bear.

* Up? Wasn't he not just "a villain", but rather "someone who was trying to do the right thing but his passion got the better of him"?

Nope, he was a murderous villain if there ever was one.

* And as for Incredibles? That film is about superheros to begin with, so you're already in a comedically larger-than-life place to begin with.

Agreed. It's about super heros, so you need villains. However, it's so simplistic. Just imagine how Miyazaki would approach the Incredibles.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:39 PM on June 24, 2011


Regarding Brave: apart from Coraline, I can't think of any animated movie where the lead female isn't some kind of princess (or chief's daughter).

needled: Check out Hayao Miyazaki's films - for example, the heroine of Spirited Away is an ordinary girl who succeeds through perseverance and strength of character.

Seconding this. Miyazaki films previously -- check My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Whisper of the Heart, Spirited Away, The Cat Returns, and Howl's Moving Castle for female leads from relatively normal backgrounds (Princess Mononoke and Ponyo have princess-leads, but not the coddled sort in most Disney-type films). And get away from Western popular media, and you'll see more variety in characters.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:41 PM on June 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Check out Hayao Miyazaki's films - for example, the heroine of Spirited Away is an ordinary girl who succeeds through perseverance and strength of character.

It's not just Spirited Away either. I hadn't realized it before, having seen them piecemeal over the years, but most of his films have a strong female lead. Kiki's Delivery Service, Howl's Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro, and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind all fit that mold. (and are very, very good movies.)

In fact, the only Miyazaki film I can think off offhand that doesn't have a strong female lead is Porco Rosso, and even there the major sidekick is a young lady who's seriously on the ball.
posted by Malor at 12:43 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


this scene during the credits, where John Ratzenberger pokes fun at himself and Pixar

This had even more meta-layers for me since I saw Cars at the drive-in.

and I imagine even a bad Pixar movie will be much more tolerable for the adults than pretty much any other kid's movie

I have to think this is true. One day we were visiting with family and after a particularly tiring day we were all kind of vegged out in front of the TV and Ice Age was on - about halfway through. My eight-year old wanted to watch it so it remained on and for the next hour we watched but over the entire time there we only gave up a few tired laughs or chuckle here and there.

The movie ended and the channel then showed a five minute Cars short where some of them are racing around Tokyo (which looks a lot like what I've seen of Cars 2 commercials). All five of the adults and the one kid in the room were laughing through almost the entire short.

So while I agree Cars is not my favorite work and I wish they had put effort towards something different than Cars 2 I'm guessing it will be at least "pretty OK" and have some genuinely good bits. Fortunately we never got sucked up into the merchandising machine of the first movie.
posted by mikepop at 12:44 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Argh, trumped by filthy light thief. And he even came up with a link!
posted by Malor at 12:44 PM on June 24, 2011


koeselitz - the Rotten Tomatoes link gives both the critics score (currently 34% positive) and the audience's score (currently 77% positive).
posted by Curious Artificer at 12:44 PM on June 24, 2011


and I imagine even a bad Pixar movie will be much more tolerable for the adults than pretty much any other kid's movie

A lot of the non-Disney animated stuff out there for kids is just unmemorable crap - and I'm saying this from the perspective of a parent who was bugged to rent just about anything from the video store (when we still went to the video store). I'm thinking specifically of Dreamworks movies.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:46 PM on June 24, 2011


Thinking more about this, what disappoints me most about this is that it really is crossing a boundary for Pixar.

By and large, Pixar does not do sequels. Their works stand on their own, as completed stories from start to finish, to be enjoyed but not to be beaten into the ground by endless repetition.

Until now, the only exception to this was Toy Story -- and even that nearly didn't happen. The production of Toy Story 2 was fairly tortured. It started off as a direct-to-video, 1 hour production done by the B-team at Pixar that Disney tried to push into a full-fledged theatrical film. When John Lasseter saw how it was coming along, though, he balked at it. The production values were good, but the movie overall was not up to Pixar standards.

What followed was a 9 month marathon to literally tear the movie apart and rebuild it into something that Pixar could be proud of. Frankly, I think they did a bang-up job. And, years later, they returned that same well with Toy Story 3, but much like Toy Story 2 ended up, they spent a lot of time and thought to make a movie that complemented the earlier movies and yet took the characters in new directions. And I think this was possible because Toy Story is where Pixar started. It had real meaning to them.

Cars, though ... well, Cars is a franchise that starts from a fairly different place from where Toy Story did. I think FAMOUS MONSTER is sadly correct when he says that the original Cars involved Pixar essentially sneaking in a love letter to Rt. 66 inside of what was otherwise a cash grab. And now, fully integrated into Disney, I don't think there's much room left for love letters. All we have left, from what I'm hearing so far on Cars 2, is the cash grab.

That it stars Larry The Racist Yet Fraudulent Redneck is another aspect that's really hard to ignore.

So, I get that kids will like it, and I'm not discounting that. But, I'm looking at Pixar a little differently nowadays (and even moreso considering they're doing a prequel to Monsters, Inc. ...) Brave sounds like it could be good (though there have been some serious bumps in its production). I'm going to hope that it's not all lost.

But I don't feel great about it.

(/beanplating)
posted by tocts at 12:47 PM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought Cars was mediocre and easily Pixar's worst movie

Just picking this one out from what I suspect will be a list of people coming here to express dislike for Cars. I'm not going to claim it's Pixar's best film, but it has become something special in my life, and I feel a need to stand up for this movie.

My wife and I, Pixar fans both, avoided Cars when it came out because we both figured it was not to our taste. When it became clear that our first born son was car crazy we knew the movie would wind up in our house sooner or later, and it did arrive as a present one Christmas - I think when he was three.

We would put the film on for him at TV time and usually go find something else to do. It took a couple of months before I sat down and watched the whole thing through with him, and I came away pleasantly surprised. It wasn't great, but I appreciated how they handled Lightning's character development and the final race - not just that Lightning had learned the value of friendship and having a team, but that he had learned about life and what was worth more than winning.

The movie was by far and away my son's favourite of everything in our library and it was watched endlessly. My wife and I went from indulgent to vaguely irritated with the movie - we wanted to watch something, anything else with him. So, on one trip up to my wife's family's place a few hours away, the movie was "accidentally" left behind. It became something special he could watch when we went on trips there, but it wasn't in daily circulation anymore.

This past November, when he was five, he wound up in the Children's Hospital with a very, very bad case of pneumonia. He had surgery to relieve the pressure on his lungs from the fluid build up, and wound up in intensive care, intubated and restrained. The doctors there considering him the sickest kid in the ICU - the pneumonia was caused by a strep infection, and in addition to the fluid buildup, the streptococcus bacteria was producing a toxin that was causing his immune system to go haywire. Essentially, he was in toxic shock in addition to the pneumonia.

He couldn't talk with us, he couldn't understand what was going on around him, and you could see him mentally starting to check out. He was very non-responsive to everyone around him, and it wasn't sedation - he was pretty much unsedated after the first day as they needed him alert enough to handle coughing and having his breathing tube cleared.

After two days of watching him withdraw into himself, I was desperate for something to connect with him about. I went and bought another copy of Cars, (as the original copy we owned was still in another province) and brought it to the hospital. I can't describe his reaction to just seeing the box for the movie - he sat up, pulled at his restraints, waved his hands, and was generally very excited. A light came back into his eyes, and the nurses and doctors all learned to find ways to work on him without blocking the TV. And I could sit with him and hold his hand and watch the movie and share by hand squeezes the parts we really liked or enjoyed.

Fast forward to now - my son has recovered and living the life of a physically healthy five year old. We've recovered the original copy of Cars and returned it to regular rotation here at home. The fresh copy I bought was donated to the Children's Hospital on a follow-up visit. And Cars has a special place in my heart as being one of the few things that I think helped my son and I hang in there during one of the most difficult parts of both of our lives.

So dump on Cars all you want. A year ago I might have joined you. All I know now is that my son and I will be seeing Cars 2 together some time soon, and when we walk into the theatre to see it, I'll be remembering a time this past November when I wondered if I would ever take him home from the hospital again.
posted by never used baby shoes at 12:49 PM on June 24, 2011 [152 favorites]


never used baby shoes, I'm so glad your son is okay. And that he will be able to enjoy the sequel with you.
posted by zarq at 12:50 PM on June 24, 2011


Look out for the script Pixar bought from me, the movie should be coming out in late 2012:

Toys your parents will buy for you if you promise to shut up
posted by idiopath at 12:50 PM on June 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


mrgrimm: "The audience is still 77% positive on this one so far (per RT)."

...and the audience was 76% positive on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. It's not the best indicator of quality.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:51 PM on June 24, 2011


I'm going to suggest that if you are an adult, maybe you should be watching cartoons.

And obviously Larry the Cable Guy's accent is fake. LTCG is a character, the comedian's name is Dan Whitney. Did you really think Larry was the really person?
posted by Pastabagel at 12:52 PM on June 24, 2011


...and the audience was 76% positive on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. It's not the best indicator of quality.

Nope, but it's a pretty good indicator of box office success.
posted by antifuse at 12:52 PM on June 24, 2011


Honorary MeFite Roger Ebert likes Cars 2:

I have no idea what kids will make of the movie. At a time when some "grown-up" action films are relentlessly shallow and stupid, here is a movie with such complexity that even the cars sometimes have to pause and explain it to themselves.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:52 PM on June 24, 2011


In fact, the only Miyazaki film I can think off offhand that doesn't have a strong female lead is Porco Rosso, and even there the major sidekick is a young lady who's seriously on the ball.

Princess Mononoke isn't the lead of the film she's in, but she still kicks critical ass.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:52 PM on June 24, 2011


The villain in Toys 1 was the kid next door; Toys 2 villain was Newman; Toys 3 villain was Huggy Bear.

Sid the kid next door, who Woody terrifies into "playing nice." Sid, who builds toy-monstrosities which turn out to have hearts of gold. Sid's a pretty realistically-drawn character, as far as I'm concerned. He clearly had a pretty miserable family life.

Nope, [Muntz] was a murderous villain if there ever was one.

Yes, he was a murderous villain -- who was once a noble and adventurous hero, and came to his dminished state through obsession. Along the way, he does trivial things like breed superdogs and design electronics that let them talk. Don't let the fact that his first reaction -- apparently genuine -- when he initially decides Carl isn't dangerous, is to host him, not kill him.

However, it's so simplistic. Just imagine how Miyazaki would approach the Incredibles.

But it's not Miyazaki. (Hell, Miyazaki's not always Miyazaki -- Howl's Moving Castle bores me to tears in spots, and the hero in Castle of Cagliostro is a Lovable Rogue from central casting. And Ubaba in Spirited Away isn't really any better than Muntz, she's just more effectively out-smarted.) It's really not fair to judge all artists working in a medium by the master of the medium -- judge them by what you think of them, not by what you've built up the master into. And anyway, to judge the works out of a studio against the works of one artist is a little odd, I think -- a bit like saying "the Hudson Valley School are shit compared to Vermeer," as though the Hudson Valley School were a person or comparable.

Obviously, you don't think much of Pixar. You're never going to prove objectively that the artistic judgment is warranted (because it's not possible to do so). In general, I think the more useful approach to this kind of thing is to stop trying: Make it about what you like, what you think. You don't like Pixar films, you don't think they're as good as Miyazaki films, and you have reasons x, y and z. You found the villains to be flat and un-interesting. Great.
posted by lodurr at 12:52 PM on June 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


"not just that Lightning had learned the value of friendship and having a team, but that he had learned about life and what was worth more than winning."

Yeah, some people may have gotten really choked up watching Lighting stop short of the finish line and look back at Doc, possibly remembering their own many moments of arrogance (he said in the subjunctive mood). I mean, nobody I know or anything, you understand.
posted by digitalprimate at 12:53 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Toy Story.
posted by ennui.bz at 12:53 PM on June 24, 2011


Hayao Miyazaki's record isn't perfect either. Porco Rosso was just pointless.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:54 PM on June 24, 2011


I read an article that I can't find now that suggested the reason for Pixar's success was it's appeal to dads.
Probably this one . What is shocking to me about it is how casually misogynist the article is. Which is interesting, in light of Brenda Chapman's exit, as well as the criticisms of Pixar re: the lack of female protagonists. It's just odd to me this article finds that something to celebrate.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 12:54 PM on June 24, 2011


Agreed. It's about super heros, so you need villains. However, it's so simplistic. Just imagine how Miyazaki would approach the Incredibles.

Ugh. I am, and it isn't pretty.

Miyazaki and Pixar make very different types of film. It's like saying "imagine how Wes Anderson would do Raiders of the Lost Ark"! I can see Pixar not being everyone's cup of tea but there is absolutely no question that they are (usually) crafting masterpieces and have been the most consistently excellent studio working in Hollywood or anywhere else.
posted by Justinian at 12:55 PM on June 24, 2011


Thanks zarq.
posted by never used baby shoes at 12:57 PM on June 24, 2011


imagine how Wes Anderson would do Raiders of the Lost Ark

Well you've got the same abandoning-father issues.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:02 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm just going to go ahead and rip off Walter Monheit on this one:
Cars 2  ಠ ಠ ಠ ಠ
Eight cylinder, sedan-tastic, luxury-car har-dee-har-hars that rocked my chassis like a speed bump! Fill 'er up! With Oscars!

ಠ ಠ ಠ -- Excellent     ಠ ಠ ಠ ಠ -- Indisputably a classic
posted by mazola at 1:03 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Great. Now I'm imagining how Wes Anderson would do Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Hey, actually it's pretty good. It's got a lot of _Fantastic Mr. Fox_ in it.
posted by gurple at 1:03 PM on June 24, 2011


[link]
posted by mazola at 1:04 PM on June 24, 2011


Maybe if Pixar remakes Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress" with robots and spaceships it'll finally make everyone happy.

Cars is a perfectly fine film aimed at kids. It's leagues better than the average animated film - All Dogs Go To Heaven or Fern Gully anyone? I mean, those films are seriously, seriously bad. Even my much-loved Aristocats is honestly a pretty simplistic movie that's mostly sight gags of dogs biting the bad guys' butts. It's not meant to be a critical, literary film. It's a kids' film, for kids.

I'm going to see Cars 2 at a friends & family showing as I have an extremely tenuous connection to someone at Pixar. it's a 10 AM showing on Sunday which is not normally my prime movie-viewing time, but whatever, it's Pixar, I expect to enjoy it fully.
posted by GuyZero at 1:04 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is like a Terry Pratchett/Discworld thread. Everybody likes/dislikes their respective Pixar films for almost entirely personal reasons (the Watch books are great! Nah, the Watch books are shite, what you want are the Witches books! Nah, they're all pretty meh, especially Mort..but it's still better then 90% of all the other fun fantasy books in circulation these days, etc etc etc).

I agree that Cars always felt like Pixar's most overtly commercial project. Small wonder that the sequel shares the same problem, albeit in apparently sharper relief.

And on preview: I think Wes Anderson doing Indiana Jones would be MAGNIFICENT AND HILARIOUS. I can just see it now: Bill Murray as Dr. Jones, morosely sauntering up to the golden idol and just sort of plopping the bag of sand (which actually says SAND on it in Futura Bold) on the pedestal and evading the big boulder (which is now a claymation boulder) to some Mark Mothersbaugh electronic pop instrumental or perhaps the chorus of "The Boys are Back in Town" by Thin Lizzy.

I would pay money to see that.
posted by jnrussell at 1:06 PM on June 24, 2011 [12 favorites]


the hero in Castle of Cagliostro is a Lovable Rogue from central casting

It can be argued that Castle of Cagliostro captures the ensuing hijinks when Lupin III wanders on to a Ghibli movie set.
posted by Dr-Baa at 1:08 PM on June 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


evading the big boulder (which is now a claymation boulder) to some Mark Mothersbaugh electronic pop instrumental or perhaps the chorus of "The Boys are Back in Town" by Thin Lizzy.

In dreamy slow motion.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:09 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am now watching Wes Anderson's Raiders of the Lost Ark in my head. This is a very good thing.
posted by lodurr at 1:14 PM on June 24, 2011


If only they ratcheted up the satire level of this film one tiny little bit and turned it into a cautionary tale of the social and ecological dangers of car-based societies, teaching car-loving youngsters to think critically about even the objects of their obsession...

Lasseter was quoted in Wall Street Journal as saying Big Oil was the villain in Cars 2 which triggered a predictable reaction from some conservative bloggers. Conan's take on it.


never used baby shoes, I got to paragraph 5 of your comment and started to cry because I wasn't sure if I could read the rest of the story given your user name.
posted by jamaro at 1:16 PM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


apart from Coraline, I can't think of any animated movie where the lead female isn't some kind of princess (or chief's daughter).

Probably not what you have in mind, but Persepolis and Sita Sings the Blues come to mind.
posted by box at 1:19 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


It would be magnificent and hilarious and neither better nor in any way like what we did get, which was my point. Miyazaki makes (some) great films. So does Pixar. They can both be pretty!
posted by Justinian at 1:19 PM on June 24, 2011


I can't even remember any specifics of A Bug's Life that I'm sure aren't elements of Antz.

I always forget about A Bug's Life. If Cars is Pixar's worst, at least it's memorable. A Bug's Life is forgettable which, arguably, is worse than being bad but memorable.
posted by asnider at 1:19 PM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Maybe if Pixar remakes Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress" with robots and spaceships it'll finally make everyone happy.

Why would Pixar make Star Wars?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:20 PM on June 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


apart from Coraline, I can't think of any animated movie where the lead female isn't some kind of princess (or chief's daughter).

If we're looking just at Disney, the first two off the top of my head are Mulan and Lilo and Stitch and that certainly applies to Hunchback of Notre Dame and I suppose also in Robin Hood she's a ward and not a princess.

Also, based on Nanukthedog's description of the plot I decided to read the Wikipedia article on the plot for Cars 2 and I’m assuming it was written by someone whose first language is not English which adds a delightful whimsy. My favorite part (spoiler alert, I guess) is where they describe some cars in London being locked up in the tower of Big Bang and almost getting crushed by the gears. I'm assuming this is a mistake but there is even a link to the article on the Big Bang so who's to say.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:28 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's not much very personal about the the reasons I don't like pixar movies. They are dry, lifeless and when they are not boring they are saccharine.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 1:28 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know where you got that number. It seems like it'd be very difficult to measure how much an audience likes a film except by box office dollars, and there hasn't been time to know those yet.

CinemaScore is the "real" audience scores. They poll people who saw the film, get demographic info, and then sell the data to the studios. They used to publish them weekly with a few day lag, but now they just get leaked by sites sometimes. They get listed as letter grades, and they can be very interesting to interpret... for instance, a poor grade means that people liked the advertising and hated the movie.
posted by smackfu at 1:34 PM on June 24, 2011


I have liked certain Pixar movies (WALL-E, Up), but had absolutely no desire to see the first Cars, and would probably schedule dental surgery if it would prevent me from seeing the second. I would join a number of the others here in raving about the work of Miyazaki and studio Ghibli. Not only are they amazing storytellers, but they prove that there is still a place for hand painted animation. I like CGI when it is done well, but (at least to me) only the best computer animated films come close to the magic of a hand drawn character coming to life.

The best animated film of the past year was easily Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist: visually stunning with a powerful and moving story (based on work by Jacques Tati). Be careful though, it packs the kind of emotional punch that surprised people with Up (although it waits a little longer to do it). I watched it last week, and spent the rest of the evening sitting in the dark, drinking.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:35 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Except that those are, in fact, personal judgments. Unless you're going to make a case for the objective truth of Pixar films' dryness and lifelessness.
posted by lodurr at 1:35 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Coming Next Fall: Monorails.
posted by schmod at 1:37 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hell, Belle in Beauty and the Beast isn't a princess, despite her subsequent involvement in the Disney Princesses campaign.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:37 PM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


When my husband and I didn't have kids, we went to see every Pixar movie in the theaters. I enjoyed them all, some more than others, but I really, really didn't like Cars. I figured - NASCAR doesn't do a thing for me, so why would a cartoon movie about racing cars interest me at all? It didn't.

Now, I have a three-year-old. He has never seen Cars (no reason, he is obsessed with Thomas right now and we haven't been to a proper movie theater since last summer's morning kid flicks) but it is hot, and next week we have no plans. So, I told him I'd be taking him to Cars 2 next week. I didn't really expect him to know what I was talking about. Sure, he has a Tow Mater vehicle that was a hand-me-down, but other than that, nothing.

Oh, but he did know. He told me that Lightning McQueen and Mater are friends, and they are in the movie, and he REALLY REALLY wants to see it. Right now, if possible. I'm trying to find a copy of the first movie to borrow (from someone who doesn't need it back right away) because if I rent it via Amazon, I'll just have re-rent when he wants to watch it again. And Netflix doesn't have it in streaming form. I can't bring myself to spend $25 for the thing.
posted by pinky at 1:38 PM on June 24, 2011


There's not much very personal about the the reasons I don't like pixar movies. They are dry, lifeless and when they are not boring they are saccharine.

Those are entirely your personal feelings. You're making subjective, rather than objective, claims. Unless you can provide some sort of objective proof.
posted by asnider at 1:38 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Only you are objective, lodurr.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:38 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I haven't claimed to be objective, KokuRyu. I have criticized people for casting subjective claims as objective, and if that offends you, I'm sorry, but it's a pet peeve of mine and I'm not going to stop doing it any time soon.
posted by lodurr at 1:43 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love Cars. I'm looking forward to Cars 2. Even more so as it will be my son's first trip to the movies. If he enjoys it, then it's a good movie.
posted by Frasermoo at 1:45 PM on June 24, 2011


No, they are actually dry and lifeless. There is no burden of proof.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 1:45 PM on June 24, 2011


I am a pixar fan and Cars is of course their worst film, and it's worse than a mere weakest link. It is a shitty fantasy about our car culture in which the moral reads: Doesn't it just SUCK how it's not the fifties any more? And I am still appalled that anyone over at pixar or disney thought it was okay to introduce hildren to that hateful xenophobe Larry The Cable Guy.

But in my imagination, it was only with the counterbalance of that charmless hunk of retrograde trash that pixar was allowed to put out Rattatouille, their most progressive story, tightest narrative, and funniest script.

I'll skip Cars 2. But maybe it bought them a green light on Brave.
posted by damehex at 1:45 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, they are actually dry and lifeless.

Because if you get them wet, they'll mold. Sheesh, some film critic!
posted by shakespeherian at 1:47 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've actually been a bit skeptical about relying on Rotten Tomatoes lately, because I keep paying out money for films that were a bit overrated IMO. I don't know if I've been an exceptionally bad mood at the theaters so far this year, if something's changed in the RT rating algorithm, or if mediocre movies are getting inflated ratings for being the best thing breaking into wide release that week.

apart from Coraline, I can't think of any animated movie where the lead female isn't some kind of princess (or chief's daughter).

Triplets of Belleville come to mind. I was pleasantly surprised by The Princess and the Frog as well. Tiana's nominal elevation to royalty is a twist of the denouement that's quickly glossed over in favor of her professional success. Lilo and Stitch and Mulan strike me as sort of the unfavored middle children of Disney fandom, although marketing certainly tries to shoehorn Mulan into their whole princess thing. Lilo also sticks out in that she's not an adolescent or adult and I don't remember even the hint of a romance involved for the mom.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:49 PM on June 24, 2011


I mean, fuck, has anyone here actually seen a human being express themselves!? The "popular entertainment by committee" that are these two hour long commercials are pandering at best. RANDY NEWMAN DOES THE SOUNDTRACK, if there as ever a clue that the producers loathe their audience but love their wallets, that is it.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 1:52 PM on June 24, 2011


...because I keep paying out money for films that were a bit overrated IMO.

I think RT is past that point where 'crowd wisdom' morphs into 'concensus seeking.' At least for major releases and releases where people have a personal stake in the matter. I would expect the satisfaction results to be a little better in the middle of the pack, at least for a while.
posted by lodurr at 1:53 PM on June 24, 2011


I mean, fuck, has anyone here actually seen a human being express themselves!?

Um....yes?
posted by lodurr at 1:54 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Someone up-thread was looking for films with female lead characters who aren't princesses, and it hit me: they're all some kind of archetype, anyway. Female characters in general rarely get to be real people -- they have to be archteypes: princess, little-girl-lost, red riding-hood, manic pixie dream girl, maybe a few others. Since this is a slightly depressing thought, I'm happy to hear counter-arguments....
posted by lodurr at 1:58 PM on June 24, 2011


My son loves every Pixar movie and Cars is probably at the top of the list. We've spent a small fortune on merch and various DVD and Blu-Ray editions (he's autistic and obsessed with videos and he has to have every version). I've probably seen it a hundred times and like all Pixar movies I can watch it a hundred times because even at their worst Pixar movies are better than 99% of the junk aimed at kids. We'll be going to see the sensory friendly showing of Cars 2 next Saturday but I'm not too excited since, IMHO, Paul Newman was the "heart" of Cars and he's gone. My son however can-not wait.
posted by MikeMc at 2:00 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man -- Pixar was the one that didn't resort to poop jokes-- taking up the mantle that Disney gave up with Lion King. Another icon down.
posted by rtimmel at 2:00 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have to second roboton666... Cars is my favorite Pixar movie by far. Now granted, I'm no kid, but I saw it at the theatre and loved it, and own it on dvd. I also had no idea that it was considered a "bad" movie by any means.

I distinctly remember leaving the theatre and saying the Larry the Cable Guy (LtCG) was tolerable as not himself, but just as a voice reading other people's words.

I really think the breakdown is whether you love cars, small C, or not. I'm from Detroit, so I grew up with cars and car mythos all around me. If you don't appreciate classic car design on a visceral level, I think you miss a lot of what the first film was about.

I will also say: when Lightning McQueen walks in on the Paul Newman car checking the police car's tailpipe and the cop says "get a good look, sonny?" (or something like that) I legitimately hadn't laughed that hard in a theatre in a LONG time. And the kids in the audience had no idea why we were laughing, either.

When I heard what the basic plot of this sequel was going to be, I knew it wouldn't match the first film by a long shot. Listen: haters are gonna hate, that's the law of the internet, but there was a real story and emotion in the first film that couldn't possibly be in a spy movie with "mater" as the main character. I think the people in charge really misunderstood what made people who did like the first movie like it in the first place.
posted by indiebass at 2:04 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, one question...why do the cars in Cars have doors? Who's getting in? Who built these Cars anyway? What is their creation myth? Am I beanplating this stuff? After a hundred viewings these questions need to be answered.
posted by MikeMc at 2:06 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm shocked! Who would have thought that casting a racist, jingoistic fake-southerner in a kids movie would end badly?

I'm no fan of Larry the Cable Guy, either, but it's not like they brought him in as a co-writer. They're just buying the fake hick accent. The suckiness of the Cars franchise has nothing to do with him. He did what they told him to do. "Mater's got a fake accent" isn't the problem.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:06 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Coming Next Fall: Monorails.

If it has monorail cat, I'm there. (Cars remains the one Pixar film I was really bored by and I was surprised it got a sequel, but looking at the money it made I shouldn't be surprised.)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:06 PM on June 24, 2011


RANDY NEWMAN DOES THE SOUNDTRACK

...I would ask you what your point is here, but I'd really rather not have to slap you with a glove.
posted by IjonTichy at 2:07 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, one question...why do the cars in Cars have doors? Who's getting in? Who built these Cars anyway? What is their creation myth? Am I beanplating this stuff? After a hundred viewings these questions need to be answered.

How do Cars reproduce? I wonder if there are any fan-generated scenarios involving McQueen and Sally that have tried to address this compelling question.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:09 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


loathe their audience but love their wallets

Educate your damn self.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:12 PM on June 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


As the parent of a 5 year old, I can report that Cars is unnaturally popular in his demographic. Like, well more than other movies/shows/etc.
posted by norm at 2:13 PM on June 24, 2011


Coming Next Fall: Monorails.

There might not be monorails, but Disney is certainly moving forward with Planes.
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:14 PM on June 24, 2011


Stonestock Relentless: "No, they are actually dry and lifeless. There is no burden of proof."

Saying it makes it true!

Also: counterpoint one, two, three, four, five, six, seven...
posted by Rhaomi at 2:14 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


There might not be monorails, but Disney is certainly moving forward with Planes.

See, this is a semi-redemption for Pixar IMO. You think Cars 2 is bad? Well, now we have physical proof of how much worse it could have been.
posted by GuyZero at 2:18 PM on June 24, 2011


Porco Rosso was just pointless.

*gasp!*
posted by The Devil Tesla at 2:19 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


summary of every Pixar movie
15 minutes of beauty and wisdom + an hour of "and then..., and then..., and then..." with scatterings of animator's inside jokes

and then there were talking dogs
and then they were inside the dentist's office in an aquarium
and then there was a race
posted by ohshenandoah at 2:29 PM on June 24, 2011


15 minutes of beauty and wisdom + an hour of "and then..., and then..., and then..." with scatterings of animator's inside jokes

I'm pretty sure this also described Woody Allen movies, minus the wisdom.
posted by GuyZero at 2:35 PM on June 24, 2011


I can't imagine a sequel to Finding Nemo or The Incredibles, but Cars had potential.

This is from way back at the beginning of the thread, but I'd pay so much money to see a sequel to The Incredibles. So much.
posted by EmGeeJay at 2:37 PM on June 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


ohshenandoah: "summary of every Pixar movie
15 minutes of beauty and wisdom + an hour of "and then..., and then..., and then..." with scatterings of animator's inside jokes
"

So it has... a plot? Couldn't you say that about most movies?

and then there was a monolith
and then the battleship had a mutiny
and then there was a catbus

If you're suggesting the "and thens..." are it and there's no overarching theme or character development to any of their movies, I'd disagree.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:45 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


So basically, Cars was made for 3-5-year-old boys, and that's why it's a hit and that's the audience intended for it, then.

Guess that explains my lack of interest. Oh well.

(btw, that "apocalypse took out the humans but that's why cars are still around acting like humans" theory actually makes more sense...)
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:47 PM on June 24, 2011


Having read the novelization of Cars 2, I knew it was going to be too Mater-centric for my tastes.
posted by drezdn at 2:51 PM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cars gets so much hate from "adult" Pixar fans. I think it's as undeserving as the blind praise that those same fans give Wall-E and Up, which from beginning to end didn't quite live up to their amazing first acts.

Now Toy Story 3 - THAT was A+ Pixar fare from start to finish, and IMHO their best to date.
posted by srkit at 2:55 PM on June 24, 2011


I'm a big Pixar fan and I hated Cars. This is a definite wait for video thing. But I realize that it's hard to merchandise a movie like Up, so if they start churning out new entries in the Cars franchise every few years to keep the money-men happy, it's no skin of my nose. I don't have to see it.

As long as they keep making good, original films.
posted by brundlefly at 2:56 PM on June 24, 2011


So basically, Cars was made for 3-5-year-old boys, and that's why it's a hit and that's the audience intended for it, then

No, it was also made for those of us who love automobiles and road trips.

If you are not a fan of automobiles and automobile culture, there are many, many details and references that you're missing in Cars.

For instance, the neon lights on top of the awnings of Flo's V8 Cafe blink in the order that a V8 engine's pistons move. The mountain range above Radiator Springs looks like the Cadillac Ranch.

One of the best vacations my wife and I have shared was a road trip down the west coast, through the Redwood Forest, and along the Pacific Coast Highway. We stopped in many of the little towns with tacky signs, and ate at the local diners. It was lots of fun and we both remember it fondly. We both enjoy watching Cars because it reminds us of that.

And yeah, the movie contains some accents. Ramone, for instance, is a low-rider with a mexican accent who does custom paint jobs. Luigi is a Fiat 500 who has an Italian accent and loves Ferraris. On the other hand, they are shown to be valuable members of the community who take pride in their stores and their work, and help Lightning to realize how important it is to have friends and be part of a diverse community that cares for each other.
posted by Fleebnork at 2:57 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cars? Luxury! In them days, we'd a' been glad to have The Little Cars!

(brought to you by the always amazing Vídeo Brinquedo.)
posted by Tom-B at 2:57 PM on June 24, 2011


There might not be monorails, but Disney is certainly moving forward with Planes.

Poor, poor Dave Foley.
posted by anazgnos at 2:59 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


And whatever happened to Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch?
posted by Tom-B at 3:00 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just imagine how Miyazaki would approach the Incredibles.

I don't know but it wouldn't be The Incredibles. Miyazaki is an absolute master but these are completely different things. What if Woody Allen had made Halloween?

Anyway, I love Pixar but have refused to see Cars, partially because it's not for me and partially because I don't want any of my money supporting anything that Larry the Cable Guy is involved with. My nephews live and breathe that movie, though, and their parents enjoy it, so I guess it must be doing something right.

Anyway, I'm super-excited for Brave. If Pixar has to make the occasional cash cow in order to make things like that, and Rattatouille and The Incredibles, and Wall-E, and Finding Nemo, well, I can live with that.

As for a non-princess female lead in an animated movie, I give you Chicken Run. Aside from just being an excellent movie, Ginger is a real damned character, dead-set on escape, not just for herself but for everyone, and quietly trying to keep herself sane and resolved in the face of all of her friends who are complacent to just live their lives at the farm. When Pixar created this basic type they cast Willem Dafoe, who did a great job, but Julia Sawalha did it a few years earlier, and in my opinion, even better.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:01 PM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Kyle Smith (New York Post) hates it - so it must be good.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:01 PM on June 24, 2011


Wow. So much hate here.

We literally just returned from seeing Cars 2. A kid in my son's preschool class had a birthday, and the birthday party was seeing the film.

Like many parents here, my son is OBSESSED with the original. For Christmas, Santa brought him all 45 die-cast racecars (he didn't care about the non-racecar characters) and an oval racetrack. It was the only thing he wanted. I also find that, in a world of Thomas the Tank Engine, WonderPets, Dora, et al, it's one of the few things I can tolerate watching again and again.

It was his first movie in a real movie theater, and we hoped it would be a memorable experience. It was, but not for the reasons we'd hoped.

He spent most of the movie in his father's lap, scared. This movie is full of explosions, characters threatening to "kill" other characters, and a plot too dense for him to understand, except that he knew his beloved Mater was in danger most of the time.

The movie itself is unbelievably gorgeous, particularly the parts set in Japan and England. But somewhere they lot track of their core audience - 4 and 5 year old boys - and made a movie that doesn't work for them and also probably doesn't work for their parents.

The thing I really love about the original is the gentleness of it. Yes, there are car crashes, and yes there is a villain, but the villain in the original is much more like a cartoon schoolyard bully than anyone really dangerous. All that was lost in the sequel, and with it, much of the charm of the original.
posted by anastasiav at 3:02 PM on June 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


You know what killed Cars for me? The windshield eyes. Everyone knows the headlights are the eyes!
posted by Tom-B at 3:03 PM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think they considered that early on but decided it would make the cars look too snakelike.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:05 PM on June 24, 2011


anastasiav: did you get to see the Brave trailer?
posted by Navelgazer at 3:08 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


did you get to see the Brave trailer?

Yes. It's very, very short. I didn't know it was Pixar until I got here and read this, but it makes sense. Basically it's the girl riding on a horse, drawing her bow, and then there is a (very scary - all the kids screamed) bear rearing up at her, the end.

I'm super pleased to see a kick-ass female hero, but the trailer told me nothing about the film except that. (That was enough, actually, to make me mentally file it in my "yeah, I'll see that" folder.)

There was also a trailer for the new Pooh film which could either be good or dreadful, and the trailer for the new Muppet film, which also seems much more violent than anything that Mr. Henson himself would have ok'd (in particular, there was a scene of a Muppet getting thrown onto an electric fence and getting electrocuted for a really long time that made me uncomfortable that this was supposed to be funny.
posted by anastasiav at 3:19 PM on June 24, 2011


To be fair, in Muppets From Space, there's a scene where Rizzo gets accidentally electrocuted while playing cards with Pepe. I know that Jim wasn't involved with that one either, but it played perfectly well with the Muppety tone of things, especially as Rizzo's cards burn up, and you get this quick bit of dialog:

RIZZO: No! I had four aces!
PEPE: (half-singing) You got to know when to hold them... know when to fold them...
posted by Navelgazer at 3:30 PM on June 24, 2011


If you want a great animated film aimed at kids, the Secret of Kells is well worth watching.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:34 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the trailer here it's scene at the 1:00 mark where the throw the (unnammed) muppet on to the electric fence and then the next 11 seconds is him screaming. Kinda different from Rizzo telling a joke.
posted by anastasiav at 3:44 PM on June 24, 2011


bonobothegreat: Hayao Miyazaki's record isn't perfect either. Porco Rosso was just pointless.

You take that back. You take that back right now. *glare*

 

*still glaring*
posted by Malor at 3:50 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm sad. I'm an unabashed Pixar fanboy. Their movies have been more emotionally moving, original and imaginative than anything coming from any other studio. I've had a difficult couple of years, and there were times when Up, the Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Monsters, Inc., or any of the Toy Story movies were pretty much the only things that could cheer me up. So I'm not giving up hope for Brave.

One of the things that has amazed me the most about Pixar is their ability to draw me into a story and characters that I have next to zero interest in watching. Cranky, ancient coot in a flying house? A rat chef? A Short-Circuit-looking robot? Etc. Sincerely not interested. And then I reluctantly buy my ticket and get surprised, moved, inspired, and these films I didn't want to watch in the first place, that I felt guilty for even going to see because they are animated, become some of my favorite films of all time.
posted by zylocomotion at 4:01 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm going to suggest that if you are an adult, maybe you should be watching cartoons.

I agree. Cartoons are excellent.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:01 PM on June 24, 2011 [11 favorites]


If you want a great animated film aimed at kids, the Secret of Kells is well worth watching.

So is Twice Upon a Time, which is sadly unavailable in its original, uncensored form. At least last time I checked ... still pretty great though.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:04 PM on June 24, 2011


Man, I would pay cash money to read James Kunstler's review of Cars 2.
posted by Scoo at 4:17 PM on June 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


krinklyfig: "So is Twice Upon a Time, which is sadly unavailable in its original, uncensored form. At least last time I checked ... still pretty great though."

Great film! Very unique and funny. I'd do a post on it if Alvy Ampersand hadn't already taken the words right out of my mouth with this great post. There's an unbowdlerized version of it up in several parts on YouTube starting here.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:24 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, not able to care about cars.

Weirdly, yesterday morning I was on the bus and thinking to myself, "what if they did a sequel to Finding Nemo?" (Which I liked a lot. Not as much as some of the others, but it's less of a narrative tar pit.) Because Nemo's all grown up now, has a great sense of humour, and he's ready to set out to find himself in the world. A world where the oceans are on the brink of collapse from overfishing, pollution and climate... Oh, wait.

Ok well, Wall-E 2, here I come!
posted by sneebler at 5:41 PM on June 24, 2011


Cars 3 = Wall-E. Let that sink in.
posted by Renoroc at 6:18 PM on June 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


You know what killed Cars for me? The windshield eyes. Everyone knows the headlights are the eyes!

In Disney cartoons, the rule seems to be that if there are people driving, the headlights are the eyes. If the cars are fully anthropomorphized, the windshield contains the eyes (see: Motor Mania vs. Suzie The Little Blue Coupe)
posted by ShutterBun at 6:54 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


You people saying that there's something objectively bad or boring about Pixar films are full of shitty-shit. As a kid, Pixar consistently won me over even when I went to their films begrudgingly. I went into Finding Nemo expecting to be bored to tears. I was not looking much forward to The Incredibles. I avoided Ratatouille in theaters because I thought it wasn't my sort of film only to see it last year for the first time and fall in love.

While Miyazaki is undisputedly a master of his form, I don't have the same passion for him that I have for Pixar. I've seen Princess Mononoke, which stopped gripping me at the end, Howl's Moving Castle, which I thought was a poor tribute to the original DWJ novel, and Spirited Away, which I think is a perfect film but which hasn't convinced me to watch any more films of his. I'm sure I'll get around to them eventually and love them all. But Pixar's new films excite me more. Even Cars 2 excited me, though I'm not sure if I'm going to bother seeing it in theaters. I don't know what clicks with me so immediately with Pixar's approach, but something does. Doesn't make them better than Miyazaki. It just means I like them more.

I don't think any of you slagging Pixar are really convinced there's anything technically wrong with them. I just think that you were unloved as children, and you've grown into hardened, bitter adults who spew apathy and contempt from your bodies like smog spouts from factories in Secaucus, New Jersey.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:06 PM on June 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


high muckymucks at Disney probably put the thumb-screws to a reluctant Pixar crowd

Sentiments like this don't really capture the realities of the buy-out from Disney, where Pixar basically dictated the terms and have complete freedom from most Disney control. John Lasseter is the head of feature films for Disney, now, for goodness' sake.

Whatever the merits of the film, this is not the case of plucky little-guy Pixar being bullied by the big kid on the block. When Disney bought Pixar, Disney was the supplicant.
posted by smoke at 7:33 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


A film studio made a mediocre movie?! SEDAGIVE?!
posted by Brocktoon at 9:26 PM on June 24, 2011


I have nothing better to do than to type a load of vitriol about a kids movie!
posted by Frasermoo at 10:44 PM on June 24, 2011


and then there was a monolith
and then the battleship had a mutiny
and then there was a catbus


I WANT TO SEE THIS MOVIE
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:30 PM on June 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


I am a huge unabashed Pixar fan -- The Incredibles and Wall-E are easily on my top 10 list of all movies ever. Watching the "Making Of" features on the dvds has emphasized to me how much thought and heart they put into making a film that is as good as they can possibly make it, for the love of the art, rather than just churning out a thing because that's how they make their dough.

Never saw Cars, because my friends who feel the same way about Pixar that I do warned me away. Chances are I'll never see the sequel. I'm not interested in cars in general, and I hate Larry the Cable Guy.

It does seem to me like the motive behind Cars 2 is a kind of cynical cash grab that I never would have expected from Pixar, and that's a little sad. But you know what, it probably costs a lot of money to make these. If every, say, fourth Pixar film has to be really commercial in order to refill the coffers for the other three, you know, I'm fine with that. And I'm sure the folks who made it did their best, regardless of probably wishing the higher-ups had let them do something more interesting instead.
posted by rifflesby at 11:37 PM on June 24, 2011


Rhaomi: "But it's not all bad news! Along with a fun new Toy Story 3 short , preceding today's (3-D) premiere showings is a first look at next year's Brave -- a darkly magical original story set in ancient Scotland featuring the studio's first female lead (and director). Evocative high-res concept art [mirror] is available at the official website, and character sketches have leaked to the web, with the apparently striking teaser trailer sure to follow."

Ah, here we go:

Leaked footage of the Brave trailer

Toy Story Toon: Hawaiian Vacation
posted by Rhaomi at 11:43 PM on June 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


METAFILTER: hardened, bitter adults who spew apathy and contempt from your bodies like smog spouts from factories in Secaucus, New Jersey.
posted by philip-random at 12:37 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've reconciled my dislike for Cars by justifying it as a business decision for Pixar. It was their last film on the old Disney contract (and lets not forget, things looked rocky for Disney and Pixar at one stage) so it showed they had the goods.

AS LONG AS - they use the money to keep bringing out adventurous flicks like Wall-E, Up and (from the looks of things) Brave.

I'm not happy about Monsters University AT ALL thought.

(Seriously! Apparently a sequel to Monsters Inc is the most requested film by fans. Who is asking for this? The first wraps up so beautifully!)
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 1:23 AM on June 25, 2011


Grand Theft Cars

Don't insult Rockstar Games, DMA Design, Roger Corman and Ron Howard.
Is Cars 2 anything like Speed Racer? Because no car film will ever be that good or that purely entertaining.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:54 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm really surprised Monsters, Inc. is getting a sequel before The Incredibles, which isn't even being considered right now from what I've heard. The ending is wide open for continuation, and a world of superheroes has got to be a least as merchandisable as a world of talking cars.

Hopefully it just means they have a really great story idea.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:55 AM on June 25, 2011


If only they ratcheted up the satire level of this film one tiny little bit and turned it into a cautionary tale of the social and ecological dangers of car-based societies, teaching car-loving youngsters to think critically about even the objects of their obsession...

I think Wall-E had enough environmental propaganda for two films.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:01 AM on June 25, 2011


A friend of mine has a young daughter. When she was two 'Monsters' was her favourite film. She wanted to watch at least a bit of it every day. When she three she grew out of it and moved on to other things. What are we discussing tomorrow then? Late period Bob the Builder?
posted by joannemullen at 5:39 AM on June 25, 2011


If Brave is a hit it's going to do a lot for ginger kids.
posted by Summer at 5:44 AM on June 25, 2011


Regarding Brave: apart from Coraline, I can't think of any animated movie where the lead female isn't some kind of princess (or chief's daughter).


Look at films from Japan, and not just Miyazaki. Also, though not a film, Aeon Flux.
posted by juiceCake at 5:55 AM on June 25, 2011


At least we had "Rango" this year.
posted by HostBryan at 6:53 AM on June 25, 2011


replacing the original's serviceable tale of small-town redemption with zany spy games

I'm sorry, but if "racecars that are international spies" sounds like a bad idea, you should try another genre. Because I'm pretty sure it's right up there with Velociraptors Piloting F-14s and Sharks With Laser Guns.

Is Cars 2 anything like Speed Racer? Because no car film will ever be that good or that purely entertaining.

Seriously. I will never forgive the critics that dissuaded me from seeing Speed Racer in the theaters.
posted by straight at 8:23 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I took my three-year-old son to the Cars world premier at Lowe's Motor Speedway, the Nascar track, and it turned on a little light bulb for me. We've lived 20 miles from the speedway for 20 years and it always seemed like a place for a lower class of people than I imagine myself to be. But this cartoon captured the visceral part of racing - the sound, the colors, the energy - that I couldn't stop thinking about. That fall, I went to my first Nascar race, and this library-card-holding, NPR-supporting, Talbots-wearing soccer mom was hooked. So I can't hate on it, even though I prefer the Pixar movies that make me weep.

Plus, how can you not love a movie that makes even the hard-hearted giggle with a line like this:

"He's the Hudson Hornet! He won three Piston Cups!"
"He did what in his cup?"
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:37 AM on June 25, 2011


Everyone likes different movies for different reasons, and in the world of truly bad films like Transformers 2 that rake in hundreds of millions, I think that Cars is fairly innoffensive. What I do is try to steer my daughter towards children's movies that I feel has redeeming qualities (or morals, if you prefer). So I stay away from Cars and instead watch Thomas (the British shows in particular); Mulan is far up on the list whereas Cinderella is at the bottom. However, you can't (and shouldn't) control everything so we also have Barbie's Thumbellina and Disney's Tinkerbell (which is a shit movie, trust me). So for those parents whose kids are into Cars, great! It certainly must be better than Tinkerbell. Cars 2 looks absolutely terrible, but when I was a kid I loved GI Joe, and having gone back and watch the old episodes I can certainly say that most kids content has been pure crap for a looong time.
posted by Vindaloo at 9:09 AM on June 25, 2011


Stonestock Relentless: "No, they are actually dry and lifeless. There is no burden of proof."

Saying it makes it true!

Also: counterpoint one, two, three, four, five, six, seven...


Ack! Why did you have to link to the opening scene to UP? I don't think I hit the back button soon enough.

I remember seeing it with my husband on our second wedding anniversary. The opening 10 minutes made me too upset to enjoy the rest of the movie. I've been avoiding it ever since.
posted by lizjohn at 10:55 AM on June 25, 2011


What I do is try to steer my daughter towards children's movies that I feel has redeeming qualities (or morals, if you prefer). So I stay away from Cars and instead watch Thomas (the British shows in particular);

Ok, I'm honestly confused. You can say a lot of things about Cars, but I'm not sure why you would think it's not "moral". The lessons are "friends are more important than anything else" and "winning is not the most important thing" and lots of other lessons about loyalty, friendship, and hard work.
posted by anastasiav at 2:04 PM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I look at Doc Hudson's character in the first movie and think about the other moral: "I used to be punk, once." Taking the contrapositive of that, look at an old fuddy-duddy and that is all you may see. Take the time to meet them, and you may find out that they've done something original and pioneered something you enjoy - be it autoracing, surfing, flying jets, pot even building the backbone of the telecommunications system we now call the internet. Yeah, I think the "friends" aspect of the movie is the simplistic end of the story. If that's all you found in the first movie I dare you to watch it again with a critical eye on the generational lessons.
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:46 PM on June 25, 2011


Fleebnork writes "For instance, the neon lights on top of the awnings of Flo's V8 Cafe blink in the order that a V8 engine's pistons move. The mountain range above Radiator Springs looks like the Cadillac Ranch."

Not just any v8 (Not all firing orders are the same) but the firing order of the iconic Ford Flathead 8.

anastasiav writes "I'm super pleased to see a kick-ass female hero, but the trailer told me nothing about the film except that. (That was enough, actually, to make me mentally file it in my 'yeah, I'll see that' folder.)"

This is what a trailer should always be. Convince one to see the film without giving away the plot/major scenes.
posted by Mitheral at 4:45 PM on June 25, 2011


If that's all you found in the first movie I dare you to watch it again with a critical eye on the generational lessons.

It's not the only lesson I found, but it's the one that is most obvious to my child.

I also think it's a film that appeals to children because of the conflict between the kid (McQueen) and the father-figure (Doc). The kid wants to play and have fun with no responsibility, the father wants him to learn responsibility. Their relationship changes when the kid discovers that the father has the capacity to play as well. Kids may not be able to verbalize it, but I think one of the reason the film is so popular with kids is that they relate so well to McQueen.
posted by anastasiav at 5:10 PM on June 25, 2011


Okay, so even in shitty bootleg form, that trailer makes Brave look excellent.

Now I'm just hoping for it to outperform even the highest of expectations, and then win "Best Director" at the oscars in two years, where... awkward...
posted by Navelgazer at 7:54 PM on June 25, 2011


"No, they are actually dry and lifeless. There is no burden of proof."

Right?! Just look at this!

Lifeless? Hell, they're automatons. As for dry, it's in space! There's no moisture to be seen anywhere!

except this little bit in my eye. Need to deal with that, apparently.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:02 PM on June 25, 2011


I'm sorry, but if "racecars that are international spies" sounds like a bad idea, you should try another genre. Because I'm pretty sure it's right up there with Velociraptors Piloting F-14s and Sharks With Laser Guns.

I have to disagree with this. I feel like Tom Hanks in Big, when the proposed transforming toy turns into a building: "I don't get it."

A robot turning into a car is fun. A car turning into a beast is fun. Velociraptors and sharks with weapons? So fun. But a rusty old tow truck being mistaken for a secret agent, even in a world populated by cars, isn't fun, it's asinine.
posted by misha at 8:43 PM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


You guys are weird. I got my 3-year-old daughter a computer last year to use as a media center, and loaded it up with, among other things, all of the Pixar and Ghibli movies. She prefers the Ghibli movies. Her favorites are Lupin III (although she preferes the old 70's TV Lupin to the movie version), Porco Rosso, and Spirited Away. She's been to Texas once, but I don't think she really knows anything about car culture or Route 66 and turned Cars off after about 10 minutes. She likes Monsters Inc. the most out of the Pixar lot.
posted by donkeymon at 7:23 AM on June 26, 2011


I just have to also join in and say Speed Racer was several types of awesome. Cynic goes in --> little kid comes out.
posted by neuromodulator at 10:45 AM on June 26, 2011


So I saw Cars 2 this morning and I liked it. It was somewhat of an homage to Bond/spy movies which is OK by me. There's an awful lot of violence for a movie aimed at little kids, but complaining about that these days is pretty much pissing in the wind.

I will give two spoilers/comments so if you don't want a Cars 2 spolier, stop now.

1) during the race in London one of the track-side adverts is for "Lasser Tyre". An obvious nod to director John Lassiter.

2) During one scene in Paris when they go to the big parts market there is a bit where Mater goes up to a car that clearly has a clear windshield and an empty interior. It looks like a regular car. Mater says something to it and the car opens its eyes - which are in the headlights. Mater screams and drives away scared, but that's it. They never mention it again. So there you go - some of the cars do have their eyes in their headlights. And apparently they're horrifying.
posted by GuyZero at 7:45 PM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


.... and a world of superheroes has got to be a least as merchandisable as a world of talking cars.

I loved the database of superheroes on the extras disc of the DVD, and some of those would make wonderful cameos a la The Tick -- but alas, if you watched carefully during the 'Bob cracks the computer' scene, most of them were killed off by Buddy's robot.

Anyway, hasn't Marvel been publishing Incredibles comics once a month for several years, now? Surely something interesting must be in there. [crickets /]

Srsly, I would love to see a good Incredibles sequel. Parts of it actually got to me.
posted by lodurr at 6:23 AM on June 27, 2011


I want to see the movie where a slightly run-down but mentally very sharp Puegot 403 convertible solves a mystery.
posted by jepler at 7:20 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hercule Puegot?
posted by GuyZero at 8:13 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


oh dear lord. i think jepler is my father.
posted by lodurr at 8:39 AM on June 27, 2011


There's an awful lot of violence for a movie aimed at little kids, but complaining about that these days is pretty much pissing in the wind.

I noticed this too. Lots of guns, lots of explosions, and cars actually dying, including one that's tortured first. I'm not terribly uptight about violence, but it was disappointing in a Pixar film. They're supposed to be better than that.

The rest of the film was just...average. Which is utterly damning for Pixar, in my book. The worst moment for me was the start of the credits, when I realized I couldn't even blame it on some upstart director, or someone that was being manipulated by his boss into making a cash-in film.

I had high hopes that Lasseter would make Disney change its ways. It looks like the reverse is happening after all.
posted by CaseyB at 9:28 AM on June 27, 2011


Re: Princesses

My favorite female children's characters were always Dorothy and Alice, ordinary children finding themselves in extraordinary worlds, not princesses (though Alice did get to be Queen).
posted by Gordafarin at 10:07 AM on June 27, 2011


Finding Cars.

It's a Pixar homage to Repo Man. With fish.
posted by zippy at 11:09 AM on June 27, 2011


High-quality Brave teaser trailer

Offering a timely, necessary reminder that Pixar is still motivated by original stories as opposed to Disney shareholder meetings, here’s the first quick look at Brave, the film with which the studio hopes to dominate next summer’s box-office receipts. Notable for being the first Pixar film to focus on a female lead, Brave features the voice of Kelly Macdonald as its galloping ginger heroine Princess Merida, who inadvertently curses the Scottish Highlands by defying an age-old custom, enraging various lords played by Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson, and Kevin McKidd
posted by Rhaomi at 12:23 PM on June 27, 2011


"But Neeeemo, what about our relationship?!"
posted by lodurr at 1:50 PM on June 27, 2011


I took my 7-year-old and 5-year-old to see it on Friday. It was fantastic. Why? Because my kids liked it more than the first Cars movie, it didn't bore me to death, and it wasn't an animated re-make of a crappy 1991 romantic comedy starring Michael J. Fox.

It's a spy movie. Spy movies are dumb - always. I love spy movies, but seriously, they're always dumb. Cars 2 is at least as good as all but maybe two of the Bond movies. Pixar did a great job.
posted by The World Famous at 3:21 PM on June 27, 2011


The World Famous: It's a spy movie. Spy movies are dumb - always. I love spy movies, but seriously, they're always dumb.

Just as a tangent to this, I visited family earlier this month, which involved a fair bit of hotel downtime. The only thing on television that wasn't completely dumb (other than the HBO Game of Thrones which was incomprehensible without having seen back episodes) was hitting The Limits of Control mid-stream. The entire premise of the film is that spy movies are dumb, so let's fill in the gaps with beautiful cinematography, and character performances loaded with existential philosophy.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:37 PM on June 27, 2011


I noticed this too. Lots of guns, lots of explosions, and cars actually dying, including one that's tortured first. I'm not terribly uptight about violence, but it was disappointing in a Pixar film. They're supposed to be better than that.

They killed off most of the Earth in Wall-E. Not to mention Ellie in Up.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:39 PM on June 27, 2011


That was heavy stuff, but I don't think death by old age and (temporary) death by runaway pollution is quite as shocking as death by explosions and torture.

(But seriously... torture? WTF.)
posted by Rhaomi at 3:56 PM on June 27, 2011


Kids movies have always been dark or action-packed. Remember Robert Rodriguez' Spy Kids? Or any Disney flick you'd care to name?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:13 PM on June 27, 2011


That was heavy stuff, but I don't think death by old age and (temporary) death by runaway pollution is quite as shocking as death by explosions and torture.

Psh. You should see The Incredibles.
posted by The World Famous at 6:15 PM on June 27, 2011


Did they ever show people dying in The Incredibles, though? Other than the standard Disney Villain Death for Syndrome? Somewhere else ITT it was mentioned a pilot was supposed to have died in the plane scene, but they left it out of the final cut. They did imply some of the other heroes had been killed, and had the skeleton down in the cave, but I can't remember them showing any of the characters dying on-screen in a violent way, not even the nameless grunts. It's been awhile, though, I may be misremembering.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:28 PM on June 27, 2011


There was the montage of heroes getting their capes caught in engines in shredded. And they didn't just 'imply' Syndrome killed all the other heroes - they stated it.

Wall-E started out with a full-on I Am Legend.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:32 PM on June 27, 2011


Other than the standard Disney Villain Death for Syndrome?

What other Disney villain has died by being sucked into a jet engine and spat out the other end?
posted by The World Famous at 7:07 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think Wall-E had enough environmental propaganda for two films.

I... This is like saying that Planet of the Apes contained propaganda about zoos.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:07 PM on June 27, 2011


I... This is like saying that Planet of the Apes contained propaganda about zoos.

ENDING SPOILERS:











They chose working a harsh life on a dead Earth instead of exploring the universe in comfort and it was presented as a good thing. We were supposed to view the humans' life aboard the spaceship as a bad, though the only evidence given for its badness was some vague revulsion about 'fat' and 'junk food' and nostalgia for an agrarian way of life humans gave up a long time ago.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:51 PM on June 27, 2011


I think it was more about a rejection of a life lived passively.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:13 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Couldn't they have rejected passivity by continuing to explore the galaxy? And those fat bodies were halfway to post-humanity. It didn't look like they could be damaged.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:15 PM on June 27, 2011


Continuing to explore the galaxy? Did you watch the movie? No one was exploring anything.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:26 PM on June 27, 2011


Finding Nemo begins with the titular character's mother being brutally killed by barracuda.
posted by norm at 9:30 PM on June 27, 2011


Well, no. But after Wall-E and Eve defeated the captain and kind of woke everybody up they could have done anything or gone anywhere. Instead they tried to... resuscitate a dead Earth? WTF?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:30 PM on June 27, 2011


Yes, because that was the arc of the narrative, and had they gone off to do other things it would have been emotionally unsatisfying and narratively sloppy. Additionally, it emphasizes the idea consistent through the film that it is easy to overlook wonder and knowledge even when it is right in front of you, and thus, thematically, it makes the most sense for the people to return to the place that, at the very outset of the film, they, together, overlooked and took for granted.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:35 PM on June 27, 2011


(But seriously... torture? WTF.)

Actually, three days out it's the guns that continue to bother me the most .... mainly because, just a couple of weeks from his fifth birthday, my son has started playing imaginary guns, which he never did prior to seeing the film. And it's driving me batshit insane. And not just guns - machine guns. The character death and torture scared him, but he moved on. The portrayal of the main character escaping danger by use of guns has changed the way my son plays, and not for the better.

The more I consider this, the more disappointed I am in Pixar.

---

Also, I'm guessing that most of you non-parents don't know that this isn't the first sequel to Cars. There has, for some time, been a set of nine shorts called Mater's Tall Tales that were broadcast on TV and later were released all together on DVD. (They've also been released as books.) The popularity of these among the under 5 set is, I'm sure, t he reason Mater is the star of the second film.

What continues to be puzzling though, is the violence. Mater's Tall Tales, are, in the end, about friendship and imagination. My son find new things in them every time he watches them, and they're suitable for repeat watching. (Yes, as a parent I'm irked at how inappropriate this was - can you tell?)
posted by anastasiav at 10:21 PM on June 27, 2011


Kids have always played with fake guns or imaginary guns.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:37 PM on June 27, 2011


Huh. My kids have been playing imaginary guns ever since they saw Toy Story. Did your son not notice that both Buzz and Woody have guns, or did you not allow him to watch the Toy Story movies?
posted by The World Famous at 10:40 PM on June 27, 2011


And, you know, one of the central plot elements of Toy Story is the brutal torture and dismemberment of the toys by Sid the next-door neighbor. Do people seriously not pay attention to Pixar movies?
posted by The World Famous at 10:53 PM on June 27, 2011


Huh. My kids have been playing imaginary guns ever since they saw Toy Story. Did your son not notice that both Buzz and Woody have guns, or did you not allow him to watch the Toy Story movies?

I've owned Toy Story 1 and 2 since before he was born, but he's only watched them a couple of times. Plus, Buzz's "gun" shoots, what? Light? Ping pong balls? And I don't recall Woody ever actually shooting his gun, just drawing it ("reach for the sky").

Mater has machine guns that shoot hundreds of rounds - loudly - in a very short time, and he destroys an entire room in the process. I don't recall Buzz or Woody ever escaping from a situation by doing anything like that.
posted by anastasiav at 11:05 PM on June 27, 2011


The longer this thread goes on the more I want to see the movie. It sounds like Spy Hunter or Twisted Metal.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:12 PM on June 27, 2011


anastasiav, in the original Cars, there's a sequence where Lightning McQueen has wings and fires missiles at baddies. Missiles. If you're trying to keep your child from seeing violent images in movies, Pixar simply is not for you, regardless of the content of Cars 2. I totally respect your desire to keep violent images from your child's experience at a young age. But seriously, Pixar movies - all of them - are completely full of violence.
posted by The World Famous at 11:32 PM on June 27, 2011


We were supposed to view the humans' life aboard the spaceship as a bad, though the only evidence given for its badness was some vague revulsion about 'fat' and 'junk food' and nostalgia for an agrarian way of life humans gave up a long time ago.

Other evidence that I saw: the passengers were manipulated (pointlessly) by a control program that fed them "the new blue" and everything in a cup, while conditioning them to Love Big Brother ("B is for Buy-n-Large, your Very Best Friend"), giving them nothing much more to do than hit virtual golf balls and zoom around the ship on hover-chairs. Hell, they're passengers -- did any human in that movie actually create anything? Explore anything? Take a risk? (Answer to last: yes, see plot arc.)

The agrarian nostalgia is a little trite, but it lets the film reach more people than they'd reach if they used more subtle tropes.

So, yes, it's about a life lived passively -- which is what got humanity and earth into the mess in the first place. Going back to fix what was broken is identified as the remedy for that.

Certainly there are other possibilities. There are many fine stories and novels and films about people moving on from a dead earth to explore the universe. But that's not the option chosen here, because the point of the plot is to illustrate the importance of living actively. That's what Wall-E does when he climbs onto Eve's ship. The 'right-use' of tools also figures in: Humans create these intelligent machines and then proceed to delegate authority to them, and when the machines exercise their authority ("You look marvelous!"), they get shut up in the equivalent of a psych ward. In the end, in the final montage, the humans have passed beyond delegating authority and dirty jobs to Eve and Wall-E, and started using them as tools to improve the world. (See the ending credit sequence, where Eve and Wall-E are depicted doing things like digging wells. They become culture-heroes, it seems.)

I don't think I'm over-reading this, either. If you watch the extras reels on Pixar DVDs, one of the things that you'll see again and again is this highly collaborative story process, where things are storyboarded, ani-matic'd and even rough-animated before they're discarded after fairly detailed discussion by the creative staff. They do in fact sweat those kinds of details. The great miracle is that with such a collaborative process they don't produce crap*, but instead produce quality work with powerful details.

--
*And let's not have any camel, jokes, okay? or i might be forced to point out how much better-designed camels are than horses....
posted by lodurr at 4:28 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Re. violence: There's violence and death in Pixar movies -- that's one of their most salient characteristics, actually, that they deal with hard emotional truths in ways that other American animated movies haven't in years. But to me, one of the key points about that is that they always deal with the consequences: in Up, Karl Frederickson is lonely and tired; in The Incredibles, even contemplating actual killing nearly tears Bob Parr apart (though to be fair they kill a buttload of henchvolk en route to the denouement). It's the emotional violence that's much more important in Pixar flicks than the physical.

As for Buzz's and Woody's guns, you will note that they never try to use them as guns once they're aware of their toy-status. They never try to kill anything, and that's one of the reasons the brutality of Lotso's regime is so striking by comparison.

I haven't seen Cars 2, but it sounds like it's just the usual Hollywood-complex violence-escalation, which would be disappointing. Is there any emotional connection to the consequences of the violence?
posted by lodurr at 4:39 AM on June 28, 2011


Well, no. But after Wall-E and Eve defeated the captain and kind of woke everybody up they could have done anything or gone anywhere. Instead they tried to... resuscitate a dead Earth? WTF?

Habitable planets are somewhat scarce.
posted by IjonTichy at 9:14 AM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kids have always played with fake guns or imaginary guns.

Kids playing with fake/imaginary guns.
posted by philip-random at 9:57 AM on June 28, 2011


If you're trying to keep your child from seeing violent images in movies, Pixar simply is not for you, regardless of the content of Cars 2. I totally respect your desire to keep violent images from your child's experience at a young age. But seriously, Pixar movies - all of them - are completely full of violence.

The World Famous, it's not so much that I'm trying to keep violent images out of my son's experience (we're medieval reenactors, for one thing, so swords and "death" are a regular part of his daily experience) but my son's own reactions are telling me that Cars 2 was too violent for him. He spent a lot of the movie huddled up in his father's lap with his eyes covered. At one point he hopped off his father's lap and said, very loudly, "I want to go home!" and tried to leave the theater. (His dad took him out to the bathroom and then they came back (at my son's request).) And, four days after the movie, his play patterns have absolutely changed, and in a way that is more violent than his play was previously.

I actually think that a certain level of violence in kid's movies is good - especially if, as lodurr notes, there are clear emotional and plot-related repercussions from characters resorting to violence. What I see to be the big - and I do mean big difference from the violence that I see in Cars 2 vs. other Pixar/Kids films is that it was a) pervasive throughout the film; b) presented in such a way that seemed pretty thoughtless and (in the case of Mater and the Machine Gun) some fairly high-level violence was played totally for laughs, and c) it was so far removed from anything I'd seen from Pixar (and particularly other films in the Cars franchise before that it was really shocking.

And whether or not it's hypocritical, and whether or not kids have done it for generations, we work hard to keep "playing with guns" out of our home - largely because I've been the victim of gun violence and the glorification of firearms in our culture makes me profoundly uncomfortable. So to have my four year old turn up in my kitchen with two paper towel tubes and proceed to "shoot" us machine-gun style like some kind of preschool Scarface - imitating the way the Mater character uses some Bond-style hidden machine guns to destroy thugs in a room as he escapes from a tight spot - was an unpleasant side effect of his seeing the film.

All in all, I trusted Pixar to deliver a very positive first-time-in-a-movie-theater experience for my son, and I shouldn't have. I had read the reviews ahead of time, so I kind of knew it was going to be more intense than the first one, but the constant bombardment of violent images: explosions, cars being crushed, gunfire, torture, kidnapping, more gunfire, and more explosions ... I was just extremely disappointed and it felt very much like a film for a much older kid.
posted by anastasiav at 11:09 AM on June 28, 2011


Followup: Saw Cars 2. My 3-year-old LOVED IT. I thought it wasn't bad. I was entertained.

More confirmation of my Matrix/Terminator theory, too; amongst other things, there's a speech where they talk about Dinosaurs being the source of Fossil Fuels, which means that organic life must have once existed on their planet for sure ;)
posted by jozxyqk at 1:19 PM on July 5, 2011


To wit, jozxyqk, the dinosaur in the Dinoco logo is an actual dinosaur - not a dinosaur version of a car.
posted by The World Famous at 1:52 PM on July 5, 2011


I caught Cars 2 at the drive-in this weekend, and have to concur that it was an order of magnitude more violent than the first Cars movie. If the first Cars was a love letter to Route 66, then Cars 2 was a love letter to James Bond movies.

Which is all well and good and made for an entertaining movie but I agree that the disconnect here is that the entire Cars franchise ended up focused on kids five and under. Amazing scenery though! For what it is worth, my 10 year old preferred the original Cars.

I love this whole dinosaur/mad max side discussion. These are the types of questions Lasseter should be answering in the DVD commentary.

And with all the Cars/Doc Hollywood comparisons, I am surprised not to find anyone commenting on the similar themes of Cars2/The Man With One Red Shoe.
posted by mikepop at 8:53 AM on July 6, 2011


The World Famous: True, and the Dinoco company exists in both the Cars and Toy Story universes, as well as the Lightyear name and Pizza Planet; why would pizza delivery need to exist in a world of sentient cars?

Obviously, the only explanation is that the same force which caused the toys to be animated when their owners weren't around evolved, and got too powerful for its own good when the cars started becoming self-aware and slaughtering the humans.

I should really expand on this somewhere :)
posted by jozxyqk at 5:17 PM on July 6, 2011


jozxyqk i writes "why would pizza delivery need to exist in a world of sentient cars?"

Is it the pizza part you object to or the delivery? If the latter probably for the same reasons pizza delivery exists in our relaity. If the former it is not hard to ret-con pizzas into gasoline, washer fluid and other consumables.
posted by Mitheral at 6:29 PM on July 6, 2011


That's not really even a retcon. It's just the Cars-world version.

But I love the way 'retcon' has mainstreamed. The other day I saw somebody post to Facebook that they were 'retconning their CV.'
posted by lodurr at 2:51 AM on July 7, 2011


I'm not sure if anybody has made this point or not, but I kinda felt like Cars was made for 3-5 year old boys, and Cars 2 was made for those same boys, just 5 years older. Whereas a lot of people are taking their 3-5 year old boys to see Cars 2, expecting it to be Cars all over again (which is a valid enough assumption to make, if you haven't read any reviews). Kinda like people going into Aliens, expecting to see Alien all over again.
posted by antifuse at 8:17 AM on July 7, 2011


I hadn't thought of it that way. Before reading your point, I might have knee-jerked that it's a natural assumption that a sequel would be targeted at the same age level. But it makes sense for a sequel to be targeted at the next relevant level. Some series books get more advanced as they go along -- e.g., Jim Kjellgard's old "Big Red" books, Walter Farley's "Black Stallion" series, the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and more recently Rowlings' Harry Potter series. It makes sense that your readers develop through practice (with your work and the work of others), so you want to keep challenging them. Or, if you have an agenda about reading (e.g. Rowling), you challenge them just to challenge them. (Focusing on books because I can't think of good film examples.)

In this case, targeting the same audience, 5 years older makes absolute marketing sense (and is a little disconcerting).
posted by lodurr at 12:49 PM on July 7, 2011


Ten years from now Cars 4 will be released and will be indistinguishable from The Fast and the Furious.

YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST.
posted by mazola at 1:13 PM on July 7, 2011


Ten years from now Cars 4 will be released and will be indistinguishable from The Fast and the Furious.

If you mean that Cars 4 will be a rip-off of Point Break, I bet you're right.
posted by The World Famous at 2:05 PM on July 7, 2011


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