Review
Cars
© 2006 Disney/Pixar. All rights reserved.
Mark Mayerson · November 17, 2006 | Cars is Pixar's latest computer animated feature; a fantasy where cars are the only life form. There are cars that are meant to be human, cars that are animals and even cars that are insects. The story concerns Lightning McQueen, an ambitious racing car, who is poised to become a champion. He gets lost on the way to a major race and ends up in a town that's been forgotten since the interstate highway bypassed it. In his attempt to get out of town and make it to the big race, McQueen ends up learning the expected life lessons: there's more than one way to define success and relationships are more important than fame or material gain.

The story is relatively weak for a Pixar film, as are the supporting characters. Except for the highly polished visuals, this film could easily have come from many of the other studios currently creating computer-animated features.

Cars
Directed by John Lasseter; co-directed by Joe Ranft
Animation production by Pixar Animation Studios
Distributed by Walt Disney Home Video, 2006
116 minutes

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The extras on the DVD can only be described as skimpy. There is no commentary track and no documentaries on the production of the film.

As expected, the DVD includes the short One Man Band that accompanied Cars in theatres. In addition, there is a new short called Mater and the Ghost Light, which focuses on Mater the tow truck's pranks and how they eventually backfire. It's consistent with the style and feel of the feature, but it doesn't rise above being merely pleasant. There are no memorable gags and the personalities of the characters are not developed beyond the feature.

There are four deleted scenes, but they don't contain animation. They are in the form of story reels. "Top Down Truck Stop" offers an alternate story for how Lightning McQueen gets separated from his chauffeur. "Lost" seems like a reworking of Snow White's flight through the forest with McQueen terrified by unfamiliar surroundings. "Community Service" offers up a dream sequence reminiscent of horror films where characters wake up to discover they've been transformed. "Motorama Girls" fills in the backstory for a couple of the supporting characters. None of these sequences is missed for having been cut from the film.

The only behind-the-scenes material is a documentary called "Inspiration for Cars," where John Lasseter and other Pixar artists talk to track owners, drivers, announcers and some people who live along the real Route 66. There's a bittersweet feeling to the footage, as it includes many shots of the late Joe Ranft, Pixar's lead story artist and co-director of Cars.

This DVD feels bare-bones compared to earlier Pixar releases and one can only assume that they're hoping to sell this version to their anxious fans and later sell them a "collector's edition" with all the regular extras. If you're buying Cars for a child or if you're someone who never bothers with the extras, you'll find this release satisfying. However, if you are an animator or hardcore fan, you're better off renting the current release and saving your money for the inevitable upgrade.

DVD Features: Available in 4:3 or 16:19 aspect ratios; English audio track; Region 1.

DVD Extras: Mater and the Ghostlight and One Man Band shorts; John Lasseter featurette; deleted scenes.
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