Set in a world inhabited only by motor vehicles Cars is sort of a cross between Michael J. Fox's Doc Hollywood and NASCAR. The main hero is a hotshot rookie race car named Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson)--an obvious homage to the late fast-driving Steve McQueen--whose one goal in life is to win the Piston Cup and bask in fame and glory. Yet on his cross-country trip to the Piston Cup Championship in California to compete against two seasoned pros (real-life legendary racer Richard Petty voices the reigning champion The King) Lightning finds himself unexpectedly detoured in the sleepy--and forgotten--Route 66 town of Radiator Springs. There he meets its colorful denizens--including Sally (Bonnie Hunt) a snazzy 2002 Porsche who owns the local “rest” stop; Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) the town’s rusty but trusty tow truck; and Doc Hudson (Paul Newman) a 1951 Hudson Hornet who rules the town with a steady hand er wheel. Together they all help the cocksure Lightning realize that there are more important things than trophies fame and sponsorship. If Pixar calls you come running so it isn’t at all surprising how impressive the Cars vocal line-up is starting with legendary screen icon Newman as the Doc. Come on being the race car driving nut that he is you think the 81-year-old actor would say no to voicing a 1951 Hudson Hornet who has his own mysterious past in the racing world? Hell no. The rest of the cast also seem to have a good time channeling their inner car from Wilson’s snarky speedster to Hunt’s cute and sexy Porsche a big-city lawyer who decides to get out of the fast lane. Supporting voices include Cheech Marin and Tony Shalhoub as Radiator Springs’ low-riding body shop and Italian Fiat tire shop owners respectively. Even George Carlin gets into the act as a groovy ‘60s VW wagon who sells “organic” fuel. Good stuff. Of course what Pixar flick would be complete without its comic relief? Although he’s no Ellen DeGeneres as a short-term memory impaired fish Larry the Cable Guy fills in nicely as the dim but sweet Mater the ultimate hick tow truck. Having been out of the directing loop since his 1999 sequel Toy Story 2 Cars marks Pixar’s golden boy John Lasseter return--and this is his big love letter to the splendor that is the automobile. Of course his demand for perfection took its toll. The animators had to come up with a new technique called “ray tracing ” which allows the car stars--that are metallic and heavily contoured--to credibly reflect their environments. Even with a sophisticated network of 3 000 computers and state-of-the-art lightning-fast processors that operate up to four times faster than they did on The Incredibles the average time to render a single frame of film was 17 hours. Still all that time spent pays off. Cars is a real visual treat with another firm grasp in storytelling. Sure it’s a bit of a vanity project and may shoot way over the kiddies’ heads making them squirm a little during the “slow” parts. But as one of the recently appointed top guns at Disney Lasseter can do just about anything he wants these days--and we are going to love it dammit.
The 59th Venice Film Festival will kick off its venue with the long-awaited Frida, a biopic about the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, starring Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas. Other films in competition include Steven Soderbergh's newest, Full Frontal, and Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition, starring Tom Hanks, as well as Between Strangers, the directorial debut of Edoardo Ponti, the 29-year-old son of Sophia Loren, who also stars in the film. Those celebrities scheduled to attend include Hayek, Loren, Hanks and Julianne Moore with her film The Hours. The festival runs Aug. 29 to Sept 8.
Not to be outdone by another pop diva, Celine Dion is jumping on the fragrance-line bandwagon. (J.Lo, watch out.) Dion will be creating a perfume with Coty Inc., which also produces Jovan and Stetson fragrances, and the scent should be in stores in early 2003. Jennifer Lopez's fragrance, Glow, is ready to hit the market soon.
Supermodel Naomi Campbell may have to wait until October before learning if she has beaten an appeal by the British tabloid Daily Mirror, which was ordered in March to pay her damages of $5,493 for breach of confidence and invasion of privacy. Why the wait? The Court of Appeal in London is going on a summer break and won't be back until October. Campbell's lawsuit stems from the newspaper reporting that she was attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' 25th annual Kennedy Center Honors will go to an eclectic group that includes Elizabeth Taylor, James Earl Jones, Chita Rivera and musicians Paul McCartney and James Levine. The honorees will be received at the White House Dec. 8 before attending the Honors Gala event at the Kennedy Center. CBS will air the two-hour special later in December.
Director Jon Amiel (Entrapment) is in negotiations to remake the 1966 thriller Seconds, which was directed by the late John Frankenheimer and starred the late Rock Hudson. Variety reports the film centers on a man who trades his life for a new identity and gets more than he bargained for. Sounds thoroughly Twilight Zone-ish.
HBO will be releasing its first feature film in October with Real Women Have Curves, the winner of this year's audience award at the Sundance Film Festival. Based on Josefina Lopez's autobiographical play, the film takes a look at a first-generation Mexican-American woman who lives in East Los Angeles and tries to balance her ambitions and her cultural heritage.
NBC is bringing back the old in a brand-new way. The Rerun Show, which airs this Thursday at 9:30 p.m., has an ensemble cast re-enacting storylines from such sitcoms as Diff'rent Strokes, The Partridge Family, One Day at a Time and Bewitched. The episodes run shortened, yet word-for-word, as the actors impersonate the original sitcom stars--and the absurdity of it all isn't lost. Executive Producer David Salzman told The Associated Press, "If you can do it with Shakespeare, why can't we have fun with these shows?" Why, indeed.