Stalled Car?

The trailer for Pixar’s CARS is honestly one of the most perplexing pieces of animation I’ve seen in a long time. After the magnificent fleshy achievement of THE INCREDIBLES, a film that proved personality-filled character animation and CGI are not incompatible, why would the studio regress to producing a film about lumbering metallic forms. Let me be clear: I’m not opposed to the idea of animating cars. It’s actually an idea with terrific potential. But the boring animation of the cars in this particular trailer hardly takes advantage of the concept. Granted, the subtle movement of the race car shifting from side to side was a nice solution to compensate for the car’s lack of arms and legs, but the cars’ immobility had turned frustrating by trailer’s end. Do they expect anybody to sit through two hours of this? Where is the cartoon invention that Pixar is known for and has built their reputation upon? Did Pixar pull a Katzenberg and opt to create an animated film that doesn’t take advantage of the medium? Why do I have so many questions about a friggin’ trailer? My disappointment with this became more focused when I saw the comic strip below by Ward Kimball (click on it for full version).

The poses are pushed to the extreme, the expressions are full of life, the metal has beautiful twists and flexibility, and yet at no point does it lose believability as a car. That invention is the beauty of the cartoon medium and its primary strength over live-action; it’s also precisely what is lacking from the CARS trailer, particularly in the animation of the race cars. Perhaps the film is actually bursting at the seams with innovative solutions to car animation, and Pixar simply chose to reveal none of it in favor of creating the most boring trailer ever. At this point, that’s what I’m compelled to believe, because I have faith in the studio and in John Lasseter’s directorial skills (is the man even capable of producing something bad?). Here’s to hoping for the best.