This week, we watched One Man Band, Cars, and Mater and the Ghostlight.
One Man Band is a short about competition in the music industry. Well, kind of. Really what it is about is how the love of money can overtake all reasoning and force you to do whatever it takes to get said money. Either way, this short is amusing but it makes its point early which means it gets old pretty quick. However, the ending is fun and makes it worthwhile.
Now on to the main event: Cars. This film, released in 2006, follows the story of famous racecar Lightning McQueen. During his travels, he accidentally winds up in a little community that has fallen off the map called Radiator Springs. There, he learns how to be thoughtful, makes some new friends, and meets a legend.
Much work was put into this film to make the cars realistic and believable. The idea came from a road trip former Pixar head John Lasseter took with his family in 2000, along with his love of cars. He studied how real cars are built and developed to influence the animated cars in the film. The merchandise sales for this film were record-breaking and the products made were more successful than any Pixar film prior.
Upon its release, Cars was a huge success financially and critically. Most viewers were impressed by the animation but also with the heart of the film. Unfortunately, I find Cars to be the weakest film up to this point in Pixar’s history. Sure, there is heart in the film, but it doesn’t feel as sophisticated and layered as the films we had gotten up to this point. I remember enjoying the film as a kid, but as an adult I would have appreciated the depth of earlier films to go along with the heart that is found in Cars. Despite my opinion, the love of the franchise is certainly prevalent among Pixar fans. This initial film inspired two sequels, the Cars Toons shorts, and the spin-off Planes which, though not made by Pixar, was made with heavy involvement from Lasseter.
When Cars was released on home video, included with it was the short Mater and the Ghostlight. After the town gets tired of Mater playing tricks on them while they are sleeping, they decide to give him a taste of his own medicine by scaring him with the much feared Ghostlight. This short is an extension of the film and works great alongside it.
Also, this week, Pixar released the third and final of the new SparkShorts on their YouTube channel. This one, called Kitbull, is easily my favorite of the three. This beautiful, heart wrenching short puts on display the treatment and abuse of animals. Featuring a stray cat and a Pitbull used for dog fighting, we get to see a friendship develop between these two animals living hard lives. Expect to see more of these amazing SparkShorts later this year on Disney+.
Next week, we will be the short Lifted, the feature Ratatouille, and the short Your Friend the Rat.