Although politically we're generally pretty lefty, we're feeling like Brock Yates on potentially lethal cocktail of bad speed and cheap whiskey right now, all due to Manohla Dargis' review of Cars in the NYT. Now, we admit that story-wise Pixar has crafted stronger efforts, but the sheer love of automobilia and the intrinsic understanding of the pleasure of driving is implicit in the film, and because of that, to us, Cars is our favorite of any of Pixar's efforts. Tony Shalhoub as a Fiat Cinquecento tire-dealership owner? What's not to love about that bit of casting brilliance, character execution and detail? More after the jump; slight spoiler alert for those bent on clicking through who haven't seen the film.
Because we love bands like Jawbreaker, Rites of Spring and H sker D , we totally welled up when the Paul Newman-voiced Doc showed up in his "Fabulous Hudson Hornet" livery. In fact, we even spilled over a bit. Sure, the film is sentimental for a bygone era, but so are many of Pixar's films; it's one of the reasons they appeal to adults and children alike. While six-year-olds won't understand the significance of Strip Weathers' #43 Plymouth Superbird, gearhead adults sure as hell will.
Quoth the Manohla: "There, on a derelict lick of asphalt, he meets a pileup of metal and ethnic clich s, including a tow truck with a deep-fried accent (Larry the Cable Guy as Mater) and a lowrider that apparently hopped in from East L.A. (Cheech Marin as Ramone)."
But here's the deal: we drove around Pedro this afternoon with Bumbeck. The bombas and lowriders were out in force. And who drives them? Dudes who talk like Cheech, a man who invented his own loving/acid homage to the vatos locos and pachucos of East LA. What's more, those guys essentially invented custom car culture, at least as it existed after the heyday of rich folks with custom-bodied Delahayes.
But we think that Dargis probably wouldn't understand the cultural heritage there; the role it's played in the history of America — a place where things now are both recycled and slightly recyclable — including NASCAR. But Lasseter combined four periods of the sport's history, illustrating the richness of motorsport heritage, as well as the pleasure of just getting in one's car with no destination in mind and just seeing the world. Dear Manohla should get out of New York more; she's obviously never tried to find pair of 235/75/R15s in Lordsburg, New Mexico during a two-day blast to Austin. And secretly enjoyed every minute of it.
Criticizing Cars for not featuring hybrids is like criticizing Chinatown for not having a primarily-Asian cast. And New Yorkers wonder why even the solipsistic navel-gazers on the Left Coast stereotype them as ridiculously self-centered and self-righteous? We're beginning to think that our brother and sister on the streets of NYC are right: Dargis is fucking crazy.