Pixar's beguiling comedy-drama Cars, the latest alternate universe envisioned by computer-animation pioneer John Lasseter (the Toy Story movies, A Bug's Life), contains no humans, only automobiles that have human features: eyeballs in the middle of their windshields, eyebrows at the top of them, and mouths and teeth under the grilles.

These cars overflow with heart, wit and new ideas. And the picture has a moviemaking fearlessness that conventional directors would be wise to emulate. At a time when blockbuster directors panic at the thought of slackening their pace and giving an audience time to feel something, Lasseter turns a portrait of hot-shot Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), a racer with issues, into a salute to slowing down and savoring life.

Cars (Disney) Starring the vocal talents of Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Paul Newman and Larry the Cable Guy. Directed by John Lasseter. Rated G. Time 116 minutes.

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