Those popes who bear the name, "Pius," are the greatest guardians of the Church against heresy. This blog is a watchdog for modernism in the Church. In reality, outside this blog, the members of the board temper their criticisms and opinions with prudence and charity so as to help souls in their journey towards Christ. But sometimes, for the sake of their own sanity, the authors of this blog just need to blow off some steam. The result is Totus Pius.

10 June 2006

Clever Cars Constitutes Commendable, Catholic-Compatible Cinema

Alliteration aside, we highly recommend Disney's new Pixar production, Cars, which we deigned to see last night at Disneyworld (now remember, envy is a sin). The plebes may recall that the last couple Disney-Pixar productions - Finding Nemo and The Incredibles - were family-friendly and genuinely entertaining. In fact, all six previous Disney-Pixar movies have been blockbusters, so Disney made a tremendous movie in buying Pixar for $7+ billion in January - and it should translate into a long-term resurgence of Disney's animation division in quality and content (Note: the old style of hand-drawn animation has been abandoned across the board for digital animation - a sad reality, though we believe the former method might reemerge in later years.) At any rate, while it may not quite measure up to The Incredibles, Cars is still outstanding.

Following the development of main character, rookie hotrod Lightning McQueen (yes, talking cars are the characters), Cars strives to appeal to the NASCAR fanbase, as many of the racecar voices are provided by such actual NASCAR drivers as Richard Petty, Mario Andretti, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (By the way, did you know "racecar" is the longest palindrome in the English language?)

But what makes Cars truly worthwhile is its promotion of a selfless ethos - of honesty, gratitude, humility, and transcendent rewards. Particularly since this movie is geared (haha) towards kids, the prominence of these values is important, especially with all the trash in the media today. It is interesting to see how Pixar has done a consistently good job of making films an entire family can enjoy, and this trend looks to continue in the future. Even adults should enjoy Cars - despite the "G" rating, the humor is sufficiently clever, not always sinking to the level of worn-out cartoon or bathroom jokes. Also, the historical references and automotive topic matter should keep folks interested; we are quite certain that those with a strong knowledge of cars and models of the past will pick up on a lot more embedded visual references than the average viewer (after all, a good number of major automobile corporations and experts helped on this project).

Some reviews have inexplicably characterized Cars as hackneyed and mediocre. To these haughty killjoys we authoritatively pronounce, "You have no taste." We find professional movie critics, on the whole, to be unworthy of our time, just as most movies today. Another criticism was that the general plot of Cars was too similar to some live-action 1960s racing movie. Perhaps, but for children and those (and I'm sure there's a lot) unfamiliar with that film, Cars does a tremendous job of bringing a strong story into the present day. Many of the references hearken back to the 50s in a nostalgic fashion, and the computerized animation medium is certainly different. One legitimate concern is that the 1 hour 56 minute running length might be too much for smaller children to stay focused. While the movie did seem longer than your typical animated flim, it didn't seem too long, and we did not sense any childlike chaos in the full house last night.

Also, we have already seen Mission: Impossible III and X-Men III this summer, and find Cars to be superior. The first is not really a film for the young'uns, and we would actually hesitate to recommend X-3 as well. As a whole, the X-Men movie franchise has been rather good, and while the third installment was visually stunning (the effects are some of the best we have yet witnessed), it was also rather hurried and definitely more risque - something that was unnecessary and perhaps due to a new director (the director of 1 & 2 left to head the upcoming Superman Returns, which we are told is very promising). With much garbage looking to be found onscreen during the summer months (and to be honest, we worry from the previews that Pirates of the Caribbean 2 looks too contrived and slapstick to match the original), we understand that many seek direction in choosing their summer viewings.

In light of the aforementioned, we infallibly declare "nihil obstat" upon Cars, and ensure Catholic families that it would be time and money well spent to take an evening to see this film.


Michael Gerardi said...

My review's now up:

While I am extremely loathe to question the authority of the Popes I myself have deemed "the closers" of the papal world, I dissent to your face on some of the critical griping. All of the Pixar films previous have been highly lauded, perhaps overrated, and all were strongly moral and child-appropriate. I enjoyed the movie but the concept simply isn't as good as prior films. It's easy to look "mediocre" compared to TOY STORY (I and II), FINDING NEMO, and THE INCREDIBLES; Pixar was due for a small letdown.

Altissimus Pius XIII said...

To this we say, you are entitled to you opinion, as this is not a matter of faith or morals.

Nonetheless, we must clarify that we did not state that CARS is the best Pixar movie, and we made a point to say THE INCREDIBLES was better. As we have not seen TOY STORY II, we cannot speak on that matter. We have seen FINDING NEMO, and upon considering it, can easily understand how it may be considered superior - but this does not conflict with our assessment of CARS.

Furthermore, reviews we have read say CARS is just plain mediocre. Even if one is trying to rate relative to past Pixar productions, why does this warrant a 3/5 rating or worse (which we have seen in various places)? One does not compare every Universal movie to the previous. Now, to a certain extent, animation studios have historically had past and present quality of work compared. But CARS was still a good movie, operating off an original enough plot. One cannot expect a perpetually ascending arc.

That said, we must again assert that we did not give CARS overmuch praise. Indeed, we lauded it most in comparison to two other major summer releases, which we feel are objectively inferior - particularly in terms of family viewability. And not claiming to be a great film critic, but only a pastoral guide to cinema, we felt a nice balance between informative review and praise for a good movie was in order. And we feel we struck that balance, since we carefully contemplate our every decision.

That said, we greatly applaud your superior film critic talents. But we cannot bend to your dissent, lest ever pleb think he can run with misinterpretation.

Keep up your little apostolate, our boy!

mc said...

Thank you, that was good to know! I was pondering on asking to see it because I really want to see a movie but they (as you have said) are all "junk". Very true. I was looking on the local theater's website and they all are PG-13 or R, only ONE was PG (Akeelah and the Bee) and ONE G rated moive, CARS. Thanks for all the info Papa Pius XIII.

Altissimus Pius XIII said...

Papa is always happy to help out with some small favor.