I’m strangely okay with Cars 2 existing and apparently sucking. Because like Cars before it, I can just not see it and thus Pixar’s streak of win can continue unabated in my mind. A lot of critics are harping on Cars 2 because it makes Larry the Cable Guy’s towtruck the main character. I get that. And I certainly get, and share, the disappointment in seeing such a normally great studio churning out a lazy merchandise cash-in. But I also think the whole Cars concept is just fatally flawed from the get-go. Even if the main character was a Louis CK-voiced ’73 Gremlin hilariously dealing with race and child raising in contemporary Carmerica, I wouldn’t watch it.
I saw ten minutes of Cars on a plane from Istanbul to Chicago a few years back and just stopped watching. Not because it was bad, but because it was boring. It was boring because it didn’t work for me. The whole concept just rang flat. I can get totally into a world where toys come alive when we’re not looking, or rats can cook, or robots can fall in love, or the monsters in our closet live in a world virtually identical to our own. Because those concepts satisfy something in the brain, they light up and play with old childish wonderings or fears, or the human desire to create human-like robots, or thousands of years of animal fables. What I’m saying is, the other Pixar movies make sense, fantastical as their premises are. They have roots in the dark soil of the brain.
But cars having an organic society in a world without humans? And this world is, again, virtually identical to the human world? It just doesn’t work. Not for me. It was off-key. I couldn’t care. I couldn’t invest the slightest sliver of emotion or interest in the characters or storyline. It was like it drove the expressway straight down the center of my own personal uncanny valley. Mostly, I thought it was just dumb.
Still, Cars has sold a ton of merchandise and that too I get. Kids love toy cars and kids love Disney stuff and so Disney selling toy cars is about as failsafe a money-making scheme as you can get. And if that means that the Pixarians get to swim around in Scrooge McDuck-style money bins, then fine. They made Wall-E and The Incredibles and a kid’s movie about old people dealing with grief after the loss of a spouse that also had talking dogs and it didn’t feel cheap. They deserve it. But their next movie, The Brave, better be great. It better be effin’ Mononoke-level shit, or Pixar and I are gonna be in a fight.