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John Lasseter

Local boy makes good with 'Cars' and even better 'Cars 2'

Local boy makes good with 'Cars' and even better 'Cars 2'

Five years ago, pundits were quick to cast doubt on "Cars." A version of "Local Hero" or "Doc Hollywood" starring a high-speed auto? How misbegotten and outre!

It turned out to be one of Pixar's most profitable pictures — and one of its best-loved. Creating a cast of automobiles with human features — eyeballs in the middle of their windshields, eyebrows at the top of them, and mouths and teeth under the grilles — director John Lasseter pulled off an ultra-contemporary yet homespun fable about a hot-shot racer who wins big when he slows down and smells the desert roses in the Southwestern town of Radiator Springs.

Pixar has kept its competitive...