Suburban sprawl and the car culture fueled Disney theme parks after World War II, as isolated nuclear families prowled the roadscape for amusements clever enough for Mom and Dad and innocent enough for Dick and Jane. It cant be entirely an accident that in Disney-Pixars new movie Cars, its "characters," animated autos, battle mounting threats to todays economy.
Also hitching a ride with the autofest, rocknroll sang of cars and hitting the road in pursuit of dreams. So Cars is an elaborate hymn to Disney, the car, and the holy rock, its verses at times favoring marketing decisions over musical value. The soundtrack wheels out with Sheryl Crows rhythmic "Real Gone" and makes pit stops staffed by three generations -- Hank Williamss "My Heart Would Know" for grandparents minding the kids by the VCR.
Chuck Berry and John Mayer each take "Route 66." And country fans wont languish curbside waiting for Hank: Brad Paisley takes the wheel a couple of times. Moms who find Rascal Flatts metal-ish "Life Is a Highway" bumpy might enjoy James Taylors soothing performance of Randy Newmans "Our Town." Newman is the road hog, though. The award-winning movie-score veteran captures moods and plot turns through the use of orchestral arrangements, speeding and braking tempos, and paved and off-road textures.
Shifting from 11 consecutive song tracks to Newmans instrumental compositions for the final nine feels like a speed bump, but passengers wont feel stuck in second gear as the orchestra often hits overdrive and the scores Rolls-like sound is crisply recorded. Most kids wont screech, "When will we beeee there?!"
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