Fast-Paised review: ‘Cars'

VehiclesPixar Animation StudiosEntertainmentMoviesBonnie HuntLarry the Cable Guy

Rookie racecar Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) is caught in small-town Radiator Springs just days before a big race.

Big question: Can Pixar Animation ("The Incredibles," "Finding Nemo") maintain its flawless track record and make auto racing interesting to the non-NASCAR set?

Catch it: Visually, "Cars" keeps Pixar in first place, though it offers fewer of the small, inventive details the studio usually delivers. The story takes time to rev up but gets in gear as conceited Lightning learns he's not the only car in the race and that the clunky old town of Radiator Springs still belongs on the map.

Skip it: If you want to see Jeremy Piven avoid typecasting. Even in animated films he plays an agent!

Bottom line: "Cars" isn't Pixar's funniest outing, but the cast--including Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt and Larry the Cable Guy--is perfect and the racing sequences are astounding. Pixar's previous flicks have set the bar so high, you'll walk out of the theater wondering if it's OK to be disappointed when a movie is merely good.

Bonus: Are you a fan of cow tipping? Find out how to knock over grazing tractors.

mpais@tribune.com

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'Cars'

Directed by John Lasseter, Joe Ranft; screenplay by Dan Fogelman, Lasseter, Ranft, Kiel Murray, Phil Lorin and Jorgen Klubien; edited by Ken Schretzmann; music by Bruno Coon and Randy Newman; production design by William Cone and Bob Pauley; produced by Darla K. Anderson. A Pixar release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:56. MPAA rating: G.

Lightning McQueen - Owen Wilson

Doc Hudson - Paul Newman

Sally - Bonnie Hunt

Mater - Larry the Cable Guy

Ramone - Cheech Marin

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