The major complaint that I read about this movie before going to see it was that it starts and ends well but slows down too much in the middle. Let me just say right now that the people who made this complaint obviously didn’t watch the film. That "slow" bit in the middle is the film. The other bits are just the setup and the payoff. There are absolutely no pacing problems with Cars as long as you realise that it’s not a racing movie.
What it is is a reflection on what we may be losing out on as our lives get busier and the world gets faster. It’s designed to slow you down and allow you to reflect on what’s really important. Now, being 23, what’s really important to me generally doesn’t include small middle-American towns past their prime.
I think the whole quiet remembrance of golden days past is likely to alienate some of Cars‘ younger viewers (although, as usual for Pixar, the very young are amply catered for). But even though I found the ideal of tranquillity it presented to be, well, less than ideal, the film made such a good job of presenting itself that it really didn’t matter.
Jokes were fewer than in previous Pixar movies. Don’t expect a Toy Story level of hilarity. There are still some moments that elicited a laugh or two from me.
Overall, and here’s where it becomes blindingly obvious that I wasn’t born to do film reviews, I would have difficulty saying exactly why I liked this movie so much. There’s honestly not an awful lot that I can point to and say "that’s why I liked it." Owen Wilson is among the reasons. As is the extraordinarily high-quality animation (which continues to wow me even having seen Pixar out-do themselves so many times before.) Throughout the film I was aware that it had been made by very talented people at the top of their game, and that at no point in the years of its development had anyone ever said "that’s good enough, let’s go home." I think that really shows in the finished product.