Took the boys today to catch Pixar’s latest film CARS, and they had a blast. They loved the characters and the entire movie, people around us we’re commenting on how well behaved they were, which made me very proud, especially since this was the little guy’s first movie. That’s the main key to me – if they love it, then mission accomplished. And love it they did!

As for my reaction to the movie, well, because it’s PIXAR I always grade with no curve. If this was Dreamworks or just straight Disney I would be more forgiving, but because these guys set the bar and then continue to push it so high, I’ve got to shoot straight.

Visually, this movie is unreal. In some scenes, it looks completly photo realistic. They have again raised the bar visually. The races are amazing, the crashes spectacular, and the amount of life they can put into a cars’ front end amazes me. And the couple of airplane and helicopter scenes made me dream of them doing something with a war theme someday that would rock.

I’m split in the story department. This is a different story then Pixar has attempted recently, in my opinion. At first, I just didn’t connect to the characters like I have in times past. It didn’t carry the weight of the previous stories, I guess? Maybe because all of the other films followed the underdog (Mike Wazowski, Nemo, misunderstood superheroes, ants), so you really root for them to succeed. Lightening McQueen is the star of the show, and he doesn’t seem to have any flaws, but of course, that ends up being his greatest flaw. And shoot, it sure had me by the end, and I love the lessons the film teaches.

The personalities were fun. Most were well-developed, the little Ferarri-loving Italian car stole the show several times for me. I was worried about this type of character development (archetype) to be honest, but I think in the end they pulled it off genius.

This film was about the little things. The way the truck’s snore was the sound of a jake brake, the way the lights reflected off the cars, the auto alarm bit, brakelights, headlights and, of course, the tractors. Delightful.

The voice acting was great. Having Paul Newman’s maturity in the film was great, and it’s always fun to see how they’ll work that one guy from Cheers into the mix. If you missed the credits, you missed a lot. And tell me you stayed for the short scene after the credits, too?

Although this isn’t Pixar’s best film to date, it is certainly head and shoulders above all other in the field of computer animation, and better than most live-action, too. I found myself laughing out loud a couple of times, but a bit frustrated that many of the best lines are already spoiled from the trailers.

I think some will be somewhat underwhelmed because expectations are always so high for PIXAR’s work, but all in all I fell this is still a solid must-see film of summer, and a GREAT time with the kids.

Final grade: A-