Sunday, 24 April 2011

"Mater's Tall Tales" - DVD Review

Many folks are biased when it comes to Pixar's Cars movie - claiming how it may not have been the strongest movie they've made as well as an excuse to merchandise literally every character, background and main, present in the movie - but truthfully I adore Cars as I do with all of Pixar's movies. Maybe it's because of the imagination gone into creating a total automobile universe, or maybe it's because I've always had a fondness for anthropomorphic vehicles (yes, which all started out from a certain blue locomotive tank engine by a certain Reverend ;-) ).

And with Cars 2 coming out in the UK this coming July, I thought I'd get back into the Cars groove and buy up a DVD I had long since prayed for since seeing these on Disney Channel - Mater's Tall Tales.
This DVD is, long story short, a series of short stories. Actually, a wonderful chance for the Pixar team to let loose their imaginations and explore further into the Cars universe, with firm favourite Mater the Tow Truck. The simple premise begins with Mater telling Lightening McQueen of various "jobs" he did in the past - ranging from a Fire Truck (Rescue Squad Mater), a Bulldozer Fighter (El Materdor), a Monster Truck (Monster Truck Mater) and a Daredevil (Mater the Greater). And just when the tale gets really exciting or life-threatening, McQueen is suddenly sucked into the story!
Sure, it's got a basic formula, but each tale is told so uniquely the similarities are barely noticeable. Especially since each tale gives a different "reason" for how Mater lost certain parts also while delivering plenty of laughs along the way - with thanks to VA and "real life" Mater, Larry the Cable Guy, who adds the friendly and likeable charm to the rusty old tow truck.

The best way to describe Mater, as the Pixar guys themselves said, is that "Mater isn't a liar - he's a storyteller". And if that doesn't say "charm", I dunno what does!
The DVD is surprisingly short, running just under 40 minutes - since most of the episodes are no more than five minutes long themselves - but I always believe in most cases that short is most definitely sweet. The format and theme/s keeps in-line of the theatrical shorts of the past - even silly shorts like Heavy Metal Mater and Unidentified Flying Mater have a timeless sort of feel to them in a strange way. I dunno why, but they do! And it's a great world for the Pixar team to explore through such a wonderfully fun character.

My personal favourites have to be El Materdor and new short Mater Private Eye - the latter probably because it's a lovely throwback to the old Private Eye Film Noir movies "back in the day" with all the usual clichés thrown in. That and the Gangster, 1920's setting reminds me so much of TUGS... *le sigh*
DVD Extras are plenty here. These include:

 - All-New Mater Intros for each short.
 - Unmade Tales: several storyboarded Cars shorts that weren't completed or retooled as another. I especially would love to see Car-nival and Backwards to the Forwards looked upon again someday, and hopefully finished!
- Mater Bumper-To-Bumper: a history to how Mater came to be and hearing the Pixar team's thoughts on the character as a whole =)
 - McQueen has no hands: a truly hilarious segment where the Pixar story guys try to work out how the Cars characters try to interact without hands...!

So if you're a lifelong Pixar fan and looking for a half-hour chuckle, I recommend this DVD. Least it'll tide you over until the release of Cars 2! =D

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