Directed by: John Lasseter
Written by:Dan Fogelman, Phil Lorin, Kiel Murray
Starring: Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Cheech Marin, Tony Shalhoub, Larry The Cable Guy
Released: June 8, 2006
Grade: A-

Cars takes us into a universe where humans don’t exist.  Instead, the world is filled with cars who go about their business as if they were real people.  Lightning McQueen (Wilson) is one of the most well known cars in America.  McQueen is a young race-car trying to become the first car to ever with the lucrative Piston Cup as a rookie.  After the final race of the season ends in a triple dead-heat, McQueen must travel to California for a special race.  The top three cars will compete and only one will be crowned champion.

The problem with McQueen is that he still has his youthful arrogance.  He doesn’t respect his pit crew and attributes his success solely to himself.  That’s about to change when a freak mishaps sees him stranded in a tiny town known as Radiator Springs.  It is home to small number of cars who are oblivious to the outside world.  Once upon a time, this town was buzzing with business.  Now that the main highway has been moved, it’s effectively a ghost town.  You won’t find it on any map.

In Radiator Springs, McQueen will make some new friends.  They’re a strange bunch but their simple, honest lifestyle starts rubbing off on the selfish McQueen.  He starts thinking of others and realises there’s more to life than the quest for an empty trophy.

Cars will undoubtedly be one of the best and most popular animated films of 2006.  It’s been over a day since I saw it and yet I can vividly remember the character names, the locations, the events and many of the jokes.  That’s unusual for me.  Some films you can only watch once but Cars is the kind of film I’d like to watch again once it’s released on DVD and on pay television.  This of course makes it perfect for kids, the target audience.

You’ll recognise Owen Wilson’s (Wedding Crashers) distinctive voice from the moment you hear it.  Other voices were harder to pick.  81-year-old Paul Newman plays Doc Hudson, a respected leader in Lightning Springs.  It may only be his voice but this is the first time we’ve seen the Academy Award winning Newman on the big screen since Road To Perdition (released in 2002).

I keep saying this every time I see a new animated flick but just how good is the quality of animation these days?  From the opening sequence in Cars, I was gob-smacked by the level of detail both in the foreground and in the background.  I suppose that’s why the film cost $70m.  That sounds like a lot of money for a film with no live action but once you’ve seen it, you’ll realise that’s exceptional value for money.