Now the cars are the movie stars

A movie about the things we love and drive? About time, says Sean O'Grady, who sets the scene for Disney's animated blockbuster, 'Cars'
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Given that we routinely anthropomorphise cars it seems odd that Hollywood has only just got round to making a full-length movie in which all the cars are stars. It is strange.

Think about the names we give our little runabouts, Reggie the Renault, Moggie the Morris Minor, Molly the Austin Allegro and so forth. Witness the personalities we ascribe to our cars. There are people out there who really do believe that their automobile can be talked into starting even when it doesn't want to on a cold winter morning, a little like the way the heir to the throne talks to his plants.

Basil Fawlty once beat up his Austin 1100 estate. You may recall John Cleese's memorable performance : " Right! That's it! You've tried it on just once too often! Right! Well, don't say I haven't warned you! I've laid it on the line to you time and time again! Right! Well... this is it! I'm going to give you a damn good thrashing!"

Some of us have felt the same way about our errant transports of delight. And why do you think designers spend so much time on the "face" of a car, deliberately or subconsciously trying to give their products the appropriate look? The Mini's huge headlamps in proportion to its front always gave it a very appealing "baby face" that appealed to basic human instincts.

So why has it taken so long for Disney, anthropomorphic pioneers in so many areas, to get round to Cars, its latest animation? The short answer must be; it couldn't do it before.

The studio's previous efforts, Love Bug films featuring Herbie the "almost human" Volkswagen beetle, relied very heavily on what now seem to be rather crude and contrived mechanical trickery, bouncing bonnets, spraying oil on baddies and that sort of thing. Expensive and not that effective.

Things have come a long way since Herbie's day. We now have Pixar, the people behind Cars and pretty much all the remarkable CGI (computer generated imagery) productions of recent years. Toy Story in 1995 was the first, followed by A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. Each one outdoes its predecessor in realism, and Cars promises not to disappoint, with chrome trim and faded paintwork alike given near-filmic treatment.

Don't worry though: Pixar is now owned by Disney and Cars explores some very traditional Disney themes. Director/co-writer John Lasseter has seen to that.

You'll get some fuel injected sentimentalism and finely tuned nostalgia fitted as standard. Not to mention all those merchandising opportunities.

There are so many characters too. Think of all the toy cars you're going to have to buy....

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