I didn't grow up with racing around. No NASCAR. No zooming nothing. Racing was just this "thing" that was on tv sometimes. ABC on weekends. We'd flip by and stare at it for a minute or so, wondering how people can watch cars go around and around for hours. Make a joke about it. Then keep flipping. I didn't get it at all. It made my brain numb. And on TV it still does. I can't watch most sports on tv but I love going to see stuff live. Anything. (Hockey is the best live sport btw). I just could never imagine how people go to a race track to watch cars go.

Luckily a few years ago I got my chance to see. I was visiting a friend out in Washington (state) and we went to the Coors 300. It was way out somewhere. And I was weirdly nervous about going. Like I was going to be some city-boy intruder. And someone would dump beer on me then punch me in the face and I'd lose a tooth. That didn't happen. And instead it was without a doubt one of the best sports experiences I've ever.. umm experienced. The fans were rabid and crazy passionate. Every inch of em covered in merchandise. The place was revved on beered fueled energy. The race track looked cool up close. You could walk up and get close to the cars and see the drivers. I picked out my favorite car (basically a number random) and got myself a beer and settled in real easy.

And man, did I watch that car go around and around like a friggin cat and a fly. When my car passed another car, I cheered. And I drank more beer. And more beer. No one wanted to punch me in the face. Everything was big and loud. And when there was a crash on the track there was that sweet hush. The Wowee I'm Secretly Psyched but Can't Show It hush. Couple hours just flew by in a flash of loud speed. It rocked. So if you are like I was, all making fun of racing and being clueless about it... don't knock it till you really see it. As live sports go, I think racing deserves to be as huge as it is.

Oh wait. What am I doing? Oh yeah a movie review. Yeah. Well, cars are fun in real life but they just don't translate that well to animated characters. They're limited. They all have the same 'powers'. Their eyes don't look right. They can't wave their arms around. It's hard to care about them. Their mouths looks fake. It's difficult not to feel somewhat dopey watching 'talking cars'. And it's hard to really get into a world run by cars because a world run by cars... makes no sense.

Blah blah. I wasn't really ever bored and the movie entertains fine. But it's often surprisingly hacky on alot of jokes (like ordering a Lincoln Continental breakfast... That sort of stuff. Is that for the adults?) I didn't come close to falling in love with any specific character. There was no opportunity for sexing it up sexy. And there were long stretches of music montages that felt like filler. (I think we can do better than Life is a Highway too.) But I soaked in the backgrounds. Appreciated the fun range of characters. Enjoyed the engine revs. Dug the speed. Got some visual wows. Larry the Cable Guy is real great. And always like hearing the Ratzenberger voice. And I do admit in the end I did get a little welly-eyed (no cry tho), but for the most part, the movie just raced emotionally around and around without being engaging enough... like watching friggin NASCAR on the boob tube.

Three Good Things About this Movie

- There was a slight undertone of sadness through too much of the film.
- They thankfully and smartly took the big dollar hit and spared us what could have been a disaster of advertising and product placement.
- The landscape and skies and car reflections were impressively wow.

Three Bad Things About this Movie

- I couldn't stop looking at the 'talking cars' instead of the characters inside.
- The Porsche girl was sort of annoying. Did she have to be a Porsche?
- Every time I laughed out loud I felt like I realllly didn't have to. Like I might not have if I was alone watching it on DVD.

All in all, even though this movie didn't totally do it for me I'd say it was a victim of circumstance more than a skid-out for the studio. I think it probably seemed like a cool idea on paper. Nice and simple and fun. Cars! But really, when push comes to shove this flick like riding in a friend's new car. For 20 minutes or so it's alot of fun and you can be excited about it. But after an hour, you've pushed all the buttons and opened and closed the glove box and it's like, "Ummm. Hey, best of luck with this new car! It's real cool looking and stuff, but I'm ready to head home." I mean, how excited are you supposed to get for someone else's new car?