Film Review “Cars 3”

Directed by: Brian Fee
Starring: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Armie Hammer, Larry the Cable Guy, Nathan Fillion, Kerry Washington, Lea DeLaria, Cheech Marin, Michael Wallis, Paul Dooley
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 109 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

After the second disaster of a film, the “Cars” franchise should have come to an end. The thing is that the “Cars” brand brings in billions in merchandise alone, so Disney is stupid not to keep the brand in people’s heads. Personally, I have never been a fan of either of the two previous films. The first was good, don’t get me wrong but it’s not a favorite when I think of great Pixar films. “Cars 3”, luckily, was better than the second that’s for sure. The film has more heart like the first but unfortunately doesn’t deliver much till the end. Newcomer character, Cruz Ramierz definitely steals the show.

Official Premise: Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage!

Before I saw this I was quick to say at least Mater looks like he is not even in this film but what’s funny after seeing it is his scenes I actually enjoyed and added the only real comedic relief. He still was only in the film for a very short time. I took my five year old to see this and honestly, she was bored out of her mind and gave it a big thumbs down. I liked it a little more because of the heart that the film tried to replicate from the first film. I appreciated that and I know others will as well.

Keeping in line with the previous films, Pixar didn’t disappoint. The visuals were impressive and the colors were beautiful, no question. The 3D, I felt was rather useless. I don’t recall being wowed by anything. Obviously, I doubt we have seen the end of this franchise. I did like the way it was ended in particular and could lead it down an interesting path, but overall I just left the theatre like my kid feeling kinda blah, didn’t hate it just didn’t really love it.

Gerrit Graham talks about roles in “Phantom of the Paradise” and “Used Cars”

New York born, Gerrit Graham grew up in the Midwest and began his acting career at the age of eight in a stage production of “Winnie the Pooh.” He was the manager of the Columbia Players at Columbia University and it was while he attended school that he began his association with filmmaker Brian De Palma.

Among his best known roles are Beef in “Phantom of the Paradise” (recently released on Blu-ray), the overly superstitious Jeff in the classic comedy “Used Cars” and Franklin on the animated hit “The Critic.”

As he prepared for his recent appearance at this years Chiller Theater Expo Mr. Graham took some time out to answer some questions about his long and continuing career.

Mike Smith: You began your film career by appearing in three early Brian De Palma films. How did that relationship come about?
Gerrit Graham: I was a sophomore at Columbia University in NY, and was the head of the Columbia players, the college theatre company. One day I got a phone call from a guy who said that he had been the former head when he was there, and he was trying to make a film and he was hoping that the players could give him some help for rehearsal space, wardrobe, etc. He also mentioned that he was looking for two or three experienced actors, preferably in comedy. He had hoped to find someone in the Fine Arts Department. He gave me an address and said to send any interested actors to see him. I asked his name and he said “Mr. Brian De Palma”. Instead of sharing the address, I went down myself to see him. I spent the next three or four afternoons in the producer’s apartment, his name was Chuck Hirsch. I met with a variety of actors and eventually got the role, which was for the film “Greetings,” De Palma’s first feature film. It got a real release and ended up being a hit. A year later I got a call from Brian saying that he was making a sequel to “Greetings,” which was “Home Movies.” He offered me a role, which I of course accepted. We continued working together for many years because we trusted each other.

MS: How did you come to be cast as Beef in “Phantom of the Paradise?” My understanding is that you were originally slated to play Winslow?
GG: No, I was originally hired to play Swan. Then Paul Williams, who would become an Oscar winner and at the time was a very popular songwriter in LA had a agreed to play the Phantom in exchange for doing the music score. Paul then decided that he didn’t want to play the Phantom and instead wanted to play the villain. This meant that William Finley, a good friend of Brian De Palma’s, could play the Phantom, which was written by Brian for Finley. This meant I couldn’t play Swan anymore and Brian said he had another role; a character called “Capt. Beef”. I asked Brian what this character was like, and he said “a rock and roll star”. So that sounded like a lot of fun to me. A Sha-Na-Na type character was something that sounded like fun to me. It turned out that was not what he wanted. He flew me out from NY to meet with Paul Williams and the two of them kept making this Beef character seem more like Little Richard. “What do you want,” I said? They said “flamboyant”, which at the time in Hollywood meant “gay”. So I did a few lines in the Beef accent and lisp, and they loved it, burst into laughter and said, “that’s it!” That’s how the character was born.

MS: Are you as superstitious as Jeff, your character in “Used Cars?”
GG: No. I have a few superstitions that I do, like not walking under ladders, but that’s just common sense because you don’t want anything to fall on your head from the ladder.

MS: I’ve read that you actually did shoot the cars during the television commercial. Is that true? What kind of precautions did you have to take? (NOTE: In the film, Mr. Graham’s character films a car dealer commercial in which he takes a shotgun to the high prices posted on the windshields. The scene ends when he exclaims “Is this a 1974 Mercedes 450SL for $24,000? That’s too fucking high!” He then pushes a plunger and blows the car to pieces.)
GG: I did the shooting with blanks in the shot gun, then they brought in a stunt double who was a trained guns man. He did the scene shooting real shells at the car. I was standing there watching him, and all the other scenes were me.

MS: When’s the last time you were in a red car?
GG: I actually had a red car when I was about 22 years old. I had a red Saab Station Wagon. It was a good car! Since then I may have rented a red car or two, but nothing bad has ever happened.

MS: You’ve done both comedy and drama. Do you have a preference?
GG: No, not really. They are two different arrows in my quiver. Each are enjoyable in their own ways and have their own rewards. It just happens that I’ve done more comedy, but that wasn’t by choice. It just happened!

MS: Same question, film versus television. Preference?
GG: TV is just another arrow in my quiver as well. It depends on what kind of TV show it is. A half hour comedy or an hour long drama are a bit different. An hour long TV show is more like a film, because you shoot out of sequence. A half hour TV show is nice because you shoot in sequence from beginning to end. Other than the fact that they spend a lot more money making a film than a TV show, the work is pretty much the same. The end result is just a question of how good it turned out.

MS: You have a couple of Disney writing credits. How did that come about?
GG: I had a writing partner, and we just decided to try to write stuff to see if we could sell anything. I had made films with a producer named Phil DeGuere. He had done a number of shows, including the new “Twilight Zone” series. My partner and I pitched Phil stuff that we wrote, and we ended up writing three episodes of “The Twilight Zone.” At that point, my brother had joined as a third writer, and we continued to write. I honestly can’t remember how we got connected to Disney. We contributed extra material to “The Little Mermaid” and some other Disney films. We also wrote “Prince and the Pauper,” which was Mickey Mouse’s first feature in a great number of years.

MS: You’ve done a lot of animated voice work. Is that type of performing easier or harder than actually being on screen?
GG: It’s easier, because you don’t have to shave! There’s no make up, and you can do endless takes if necessary, without cutting, stopping, or changing scenery or wardrobe. My best known animated work is played Franklin on “The Critic.” That was a lot of fun! I got to work with a lot of really funny people and some microphones. We struggled with trying to keep each other from cracking up during recordings.

MS: What are you working on next?
GG: I’m working on finding work! Preferably, voice over work.

Book Review “Cars / Planes: Fly-and-Drive – Read-Along Storybook”

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Series: Read-Along Storybook and CD
Hardcover: 136 pages
Publisher: Disney Press (June 3, 2014)

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

The World of “Cars” is such a vast world created by Disney and Pixar. When “Cars” was released, I do not think that anyone knew how popular this franchise would be well beyond the films itself. When they expanded that world into the sky with “Planes”, I guess you can quote the saying “The sky was the limit” but in this case it really wasn’t. “Cars / Planes: Fly-and-Drive” is a combo of the two franchises into one Read-Along Storybook and CD.

This action-packed set includes four thrilling stories narrated with sound effects and character voices: “Cars”, “Cars 2”, “Air Mater”, and “Planes”. These stories are fun and if your kids love “Cars” and “Planes”, they are doing to love this book for sure. I do not think that I can get enough of these two franchises right now. Plus with the release of “Planes: Fire & Rescue” coming this July, I say keep it coming! As an added bonus, you also get a new eBook for “Planes: Fire and Rescue” includes as well.

3D Blu-ray Review “Cars”

Actors: Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Larry The Cable Guy, Cheech Marin
Directors: John Lasseter
Number of discs: 3
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Run Time: 116 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
3D: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“Cars” is a good Pixar film, it is not my favorite but it is definitely a good film. It has become one of the studios biggest franchises since the kids have been eating it up and cannot get enough. Following in to the vein of “Finding Nemo” and “Monsters Inc.”, Disney is adding the third dimension to Pixar’s landmark classic by converting it to 3D. This is the first time that the film has ever been available in this format. I have to admit, I was quite impressed. “Cars” is one of those films that you can watch over and over and you find little bits that make it more fun. “Cars 2” might have given this franchise a bad name but the original film is still quite solid and has never been faster and more in-your-face…literally.

Official Premise: Hotshot rookie race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is living life in the fast lane until he hits a detour on his way to the most important race of his life. Stranded in Radiator Springs, a forgotten town on the old Route 66, he meets Sally, Mater, Doc Hudson (Paul Newman) and a variety of quirky characters who help him discover that there’s more to life than trophies and fame.

The film packs an amazing voice cast including Owen Wilson (Lightning McQueen), Larry the Cable Guy (Mater), Paul Newman (Doc Hudson), Bonnie Hunt (Sally Carrera), Cheech Marin (Ramone), Tony Shalhoub (Luigi), Guido Quaroni (Guido), Jenifer Lewis (Flo), John Ratzenberger (The Abominable Snowplow/Mack/Hamm Truck/ PT Flea Car) and Michael Keaton (Chick Hicks). There is something about these characters that have just clicked with the audience and have become more popular since the films. I have been totally immersed in “Disney Infinity” and my favorite world so far is easily “Cars”.

This Ultimate Collector’s Edition includes a Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy. I am excited that Disney has started to back the streaming digital copy service through Ultraviolet. The 1080p transfer still looks amazing. The 3D really adds a lot of depth to Radiator Springs and the Piston Cup races. The Dolby True HD 5.1 is the same as past releases as well and drives in high-gear and sends gravel flying in your face. Obviously if you have purchased previous Blu-ray’s for this film and are not a fan of 3D, then there is really no need to pick this up but if you care for the 3D, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

The special features are the same as the past Blu-ray release for “Cars”, which are decent but was never too impressive. There is an Epilogue, “Inspiration for Cars”, Five Deleted Scenes, There is a “Cars” Short: “Mater and the Ghostlight”, as well as theatrical short “One Man Band,”. “Cine-Explore” is an interactive in-movie audio-commentary by director John Lasseter, “Car Finder” is interactive BD-Java based game, Lastly there is “Boundin’ Cars” and “Doc” short.

Disney•Pixar’s “Cars 2” Blu-ray Giveaway [ENDED]

THANK YOU FOR ENTERING, THE CONTEST HAS ENDED. WINNERS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN AND NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL. PLEASE CHECK BACK EVERY WEEK FOR NEW GIVEAWAYS!

©Disney

Available on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack + DVD + Digital Copy Tuesday,November 1th

Disney•Pixar’s fast-action summer hit “Cars 2” comes home on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D, Movie Download and DVD — November 1, 2011. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Pixar Animation Studios, the high octane in-home release invites families and fans of all ages to come along on a journey around the world with the #1 animated film of the year and introduces an exclusive all-new animated short “Air Mater,” featuring the fan favorite character spinning his tales in an exciting adventure high above Radiator Springs. The must-own animated release also includes fascinating commentary from award-winning director John Lasseter and “Hawaiian Vacation,” the delightful animated short that accompanied the film in theatres.

To celebrate Disney•Pixar’s Blu-Ray™ release of “Cars 2”, Media Mikes would like to giveaway 10 copies of the Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (Blu-ray™ + DVD). If you would like to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email and let us know your favorite character from “Cars” series. This giveaway will be open until Monday November 14th at Noon, Eastern Time and is only open to residents of the United States. Only one entry per person, per household; all other entries will be considered invalid. Once the giveaway ends, Movie Mikes will randomly pick out winners and alert the winners via email.

Bonus Features:
Cars Toon “Air Mater” – Exclusive All-New Short
Toy Story Toon “Hawaiian Vacation” – Theatrically Released Short
Director John Lasseter Commentary

“Like” the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pixarcars
Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/disneypixar
Visit the website and mobile site: www.Disney.com/cars

Film Synopsis:
Star racecar Lightning McQueen and the incomparable tow truck Mater take their friendship to exciting new places in “Cars 2” when they head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world’s fastest car. But the road to the championship is filled with plenty of potholes, detours and hilarious surprises when Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage. Mater finds himself torn between assisting Lightning McQueen in the high-profile race and towing the line in a top-secret mission orchestrated by master British super spy Finn McMissile and the stunning rookie field spy Holley Shiftwell. Mater’s action-packed journey leads him on an explosive chase through the streets of Japan and Europe, trailed by his friends and watched by the whole world. The fast-paced fun includes a colorful new all-car cast, complete with menacing villains and international racing competitors.

3D Blu-ray Review “Cars 2”

Directed by John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
Starring: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Jason Issacs, Thomas Kretschmann
Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures
Rated G
Running time: 113 minutes

Overall Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Since the release of “Cars 2”, a lot of bad press has been surrounding this film and Pixar’s decision to make it. I agree that it wasn’t their best film but I enjoyed it quite a bit. The film might not have spoken much to parents but it did it job well…it entertained the kiddies. The world of “Cars” is so popular amongst today’s kids from toys to clothes to electronics. The film and its merchandise has easily grossed Disney/Pixar a few billion dollars. So I think in their eyes everyone doesn’t need to be a classic. This one was for the fans of the franchise aka the kids and that is all. The 3D presentation on the disc is yet another win for Disney and I think again like “Toy Story” series, it surpassed the theatrical experience. The 3D adds so much to this film and its experience. The video is so clear and colors are just bursting out in this film. Disney’s DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 is used to its fullest on this release especially since this film is so intense and non-stop action. Fans of the “Cars” franchise this is a no-brainer.

The extras on the disc jammed packed but are mostly exclusive to this 5-disc 3D release, which stinks for everyone else that doesn’t purchase this 3D set. Like all Disney/Pixar releases there is an amazing audio commentary with directors John Lasseter and Brad Lewis as they discuss the amazing world of “Cars”. My favorite feature on this is the Toy Story short called “Hawaiian Vacation”. so amazing and able to be watched over and over. Mater is known for his short tales and there is an animated short called “Air Mater”, funny funny. What is unique about these special features is that it is an interactive tour of the globe starting with, of course, Radiator Springs. Included there is an alternate four-minute opening scene, a great featurette about “Origins of Cars 2” and really cool virtual tour of the Radiator Springs set. Next up on our world tour is “The Pacific”. In there we have a feature on the film’s amazing opening scene called “Somewhere in the Pacific,” background on the creation of the villains in “Making Lemon-Aides,” and fully virtual tour of the “Oil Derrick Set”.

On our next stop we visit “London” and obviously you are seeing a pattern with the extras. The first feature a look into the films development with “Brawl at Big Bentley”. Since the film is basically an animated James Bond, we check out the film’s amazing gadgets in “Spyified”. There is a deleted scene called “Spy Training: London” and it is definitely worth a watch. Like the others we also have a virtual tour of London and its sights from the film. “Paris” is the next visit on the world tour. There is an deleted scene, called “Paris Race”, there is a featurette called “Streets of Paris”, another “Spy Training” short like in London and lastly a virutal set visit of Paris. Next stop is “Munich” is not very packed but we get a two deleted Scene, a German trailer and an art slidshow. The briefest stop is “Prague” which includes an alternate Prague Chase Opening and an art slideshow.

“Porta Costa” includes two interesting featurettes called “Finding Porta Costa” and “Heart of Italy”, which focus on the countries production. There is a short called “International Insurance” and of course the virutal set from Porta Costa. Easily my favorite stop on the world tour is “Tokyo”. There is an extended scenes called “Tokyo Race” with optional filmmaker commentary. There are two featurettes called “Mater Takes Tokyo” and “Many Nations, One Race”. There is also a third “Spy Training” short, There is a virtual set for the museum. Also included is a great Japanese theatrical trailer. The last stop on the map is “Emeryville”. We get to visit the annual Pixar car show in “Motorama”. There is a behind-the-scenes of toy creation for McMissile called “He Lives! Making the Finn McMissile Toy”. There is also series of character animations for “Animation Pit Stop” and lastly the theatrical trailers. There is also a great feature on called “The Nuts & Bolts of Cars Land” which showcases the upcoming Summer 2012 12-acre attraction, Cars Land.