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If nothing else, Pixar manages to tap into incredible marketing bonanzas. Their only misstep on that front might have been A Bug's Life, because, let's face it, even cutened up, bugs are creepy.

Not so with cars. We love them. So Cars channels that love of sleek, shiny metal, speed and loud engines, and provides one heck of a great toy line. But let us not forget that Director John Lasseter also gave his creations heart, combining our love of cars with a sweet nostalgia for small town America.

In the extras on the DVD reaching stores tomorrow, Lasseter gets a chance to explain his motivation. A sixteen-minute documentary provides some behind-the-scenes faces and cursorily documents the fabled road trip that the Pixar creative staff took along Route 66.

It's maddeningly short, a summary of bigger ideas, especially when it noodles off into interviewing older store owners in those small towns along the highway. These men and women sparked a lot of unexpected inspiration; their stories could have been expanded.

Unlike previous Pixar discs, this DVD release keeps its focus tight. Actually, it's also just one disc. Perhaps the studio thought that their earlier releases had pretty much exhausted viewers in learning about the process. We already know all there is to know, therefore we can just watch the movie at last.

Perhaps I'm just fooling myself.

In addition to the short documentary, the disc includes "deleted scenes." Mostly with scratch tracks, these are really storyboards with some animatics work thrown in. For older kids and fans of the process, they might hold some interest. One scene takes a pretty dark turn as Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) has a nightmare about having his brain transplanted into the asphalt mixer while Mater takes over his sleek body.

That's jerkier than Mater ended up being, though the Pixar guys backslide him a bit with a bonus short cartoon, "Mater and the Ghost Light." In this, the tow truck plays practical jokes on the denizens of Radiator Springs, until they conspire to pay him back.

It's entertaining enough, but more plot-oriented than the other "extra" short film, "One Man Band." That Academy-award nominated short played in front of Cars theatrically, and it has a lot more chaotic creativity.

When played on a television, the most rewarding extra is the epilogue, surrounded by closing credits in the film itself. The small screen (heck, even if your small screen is actually a big screen) makes that epilogue seem really tiny, so having it blown up separately is a treat.

All right. So we know that down the road that two-disc hugely laden version will appear, though considering the ad Disney threw into the Sneak Peek section, it's more likely they're saving that for Blu-Ray. In the meantime, it's a decent DVD that will hold kids' attention. Because in the end, it's all about the movie, and for those of us who love movies more than cars, Cars is worth it.

Cars (Widescreen Edition)

Derek McCaw


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