1. Visually. From the very first moments of the film, my mouth was hanging open. I mean, what the hell? Nothing looks this good. I have no idea how they made the cars look so much like real cars, and STILL make them look so much like characters. And the settings? Having grown up and traveled all over the South West United States (including more than one pilgrimage down Route 66) They captured, not only the visuals, but the atmosphere and character America's Main Street Perfectly. Frankly, if you put real actors in many of the scenes, you wouldn't realize it was computer generated you know, if the landscape wasn't made up of old car parts.
2. Creativity. Talking animals. Every cartoon HAS to have talking animals. Only so many cartoons can be about talking animals trying to bamboozle around with humans. Thank goodness for Cars. They create an entirely believable world populated by machines, with tractor cows, and somehow they still have George Jones and Hendrix. The story IS quite predictable, but it's still quite creative. With this level of creative juice flowing in one of John's babies, I can't wait to see what he has in store for further feature animation and theme parks.
3. Characters. I have a beef with Hollywood. They have no idea what life in a small town is like. They either try and stuff their ideals and attitude into a western shirt, or else fill America's heartland with dolts, "we don't like outsiders" sheriffs, or crazed murderers. Thankfully, Pixar did their homework and featured small town folk as they really are: eclectic, eccentric, loyal, creative with their fun, friendly with visitors, and really worth while. The subtle touches, such as the lovable rivalry between the Hippie van and the Army truck, or the crazy old Model T talking to the memorial of her dead husband (very touching), gives a complex and wonderfully, realistically diverse view off small town life. The same is true with the racing world. Wilson and Newman are, of course, fantastic. It's funny how the gravel in Newman's voice fits perfectly with the rumble of his engine, likewise Wilson's distinct voice sounds just like the high-tuned growl of a race car. Every voice is so paired. Bottom line, you leave loving virtually every character in the movie.
4. Story. A little bit A Christmas Carol, a little bit The Sting. The story starts out fast and exciting, like the race it portrayed. The big second act meanders lazily from one fantastic story point to the next, just like Route 66 drives from one landmark to another. I can see why some may say it can get slow, but, as is one of the points of the story, the joy is in the ride. And again, the third act flows quickly and furiously like, well, another race.
I give it a score of 10 out of 10. I can't wait to see it again.