It’s been a couple years since I last watched Cars. Lightning McQueen is a rookie superstar on the racing circuit, and he has the ego to go with it. Everything revolves around him, or at least that’s how he sees it. While traveling to his next race, he falls off his transport truck, and gets stuck in Radiator Springs following a run-in with the local sheriff.
Pixar is very unpretentious in their world populated by sentient cars and other vehicles. There is just enough familiarity to the world that audiences can easily identify with everyone and everything, but also a bit of a twist from from our world. I loved it from the first moment.
The plot is pretty much McQueen’s journey to get over himself as he learns to appreciate everyone around him. There are no real surprises, but then there shouldn’t be since this journey is something everyone has experienced to one degree or another. Cars is not a “message film,” however. The message is expertly woven throughout the film so that it feels like a natural part of the tale. There were a few spots where the story was a little loose, but nothing which really impacted the film in an overly negative way.
Lightning McQueen is voiced by the incorrigible Owen Wilson. He pulls off the bravado and ego which can be a part of racing stars, but also nails the humility McQueen learns through the course of the film. In his final major role, Paul Newman did a wonderful job portraying the gruff Doc Hudson, who eventually helps McQueen find his true path. And Mater…well, Larry the Cable Guy was perfect for the role. I can’t imagine anyone else playing the lovable and naive tow truck.
Randy Newman is a fixture at Pixar when it comes to the music for their films. He has also scored a number of my favorite Disney animated films, too (The Princess and the Frog, for one). His music brought Cars to a new level, and I can’t imagine the film with any other composer. The music was simply perfect for the film.
I will continue to enjoy this film for many, many years to come. My son loves it, too, and I look forward to introducing my daughter to it once she’s old enough to enjoy it. Cars has something for children of all ages, and there are many levels to the jokes. I strongly recommend it.
Release Date: June 9, 2006 (USA)
MPAA Rating: G
Violence: 1 (car fighting, crashes)