Cars On The Road is a Bumpy But Fun Ride

Not quite what you'd expect from Pixar, but arguably better than how the Cars franchised has generally fared the last decade and a half.

Reader Rating0 Votes
A fun show if you're yearning for Cars...
The short duration of each episode helps
Nice hearing Owen Wilson and Dan Whitney again
It doesn't get off to the best start, and it never really recovers either
The almost entirely new cast of characters kinda makes this feel like a very optional watch... not n a good way
Maybe Pixar should take a break from Cars

Of the many incredible critical successes Pixar’s spawned over the years, the Cars series hasn’t exactly been one of them. While the original 2006 film was a hit, both commercially and critically, its sequel in 2011 received a less-than-lukewarm reception… which could be considered downright ice cold by Pixar standards.

It also didn’t help that much of the general goodwill audiences had for Pixar flicks was further squandered by the obvious attempts to further cash in on merchandising with the Planes films. Both spin-offs were largely panned, and the entire franchise’s future seemed especially uncertain.

Thankfully, 2017’s Cars 3 salvaged the series’ potential and reinvigorated audience interest (beyond just toy shelves). And, while the franchise didn’t particularly get the hit of nitro Disney may have hoped for, Cars seems to have found its footing well enough to deliver a fun season of animated shorts.

Following Lightning McQueen and his best friend Mater, the duo head east from Radiator Springs on a cross-country road trip to attend Mater’s never-before-mentioned sister’s wedding.

Along the way, every stop is its own adventure, with outrageous roadside attractions and colorful new characters.

Not as strong as Baymax, and not quite as cute as I Am Groot, Cars on the Road does suffer from somewhat of a slowburn. Taking a misstep by playing it too safe with a pilot that feels more like it belongs in the stable of Toy Story shorts, Cars on the Road quickly accelerates with a sequence of independently-themed episodes, each tailored to entertain by premise alone, from a The Shining-themed horror, to an obvious Mad Max homage.

Unfortunately, this also means that not every episode’s gonna land well with the general audience, and it could also be more misses than hits. The pacing from episode to episode is uneven at best, though the short 8 to 10-minute runtime prevents that from becoming too big an issue.

Mostly held up by a new cast of characters and actors, Cars on the Road grounds older audiences with the return of Owen Wilson and Dan Whitney as Lightning McQueen and Mater, respectively. Although Wilson and Whitney are consistent and charming as in their return, the rotating supporting cast doesn’t allow for the series to work as well as it may have.

It could, however, be argued that that’s the entire point of the series. Either way, where the show lacks a strong cohesive narrative, it more than makes up for it with the episodic adventures, and the many familiar genres and homages along the way.

All episodes of Cars on the Road begin streaming on Disney+ Day, September 8, only on Disney+.