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Meant to See It Rebuttal: Cars

Hey Everybody, Rick here with a different take on the Disney/Pixar movie Cars, directed by John Lasseter, with voices by Owen Wilson, Michael Keaton, Larry the Cable Guy, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Tony Shalhoub, George Carlin, Cheech Marin, and John Ratzenberger.  I know my illustrious co-host Cole is decidedly adamantly against seeing this movie and based on what he said here, Cole's fears about this movie are not unfounded.  I have heard from many who genuinely don't like the movie for whatever reason. 

I can understand why the hatred for Cars.  The movie is basically a take on the story that is essentially a retelling of the Michael J. Fox film Doc Hollywood only with cars as the characters.  Another main difference, the lead character Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is a race car for NASCAR.  Here is where the nice little in-jokes and the charm of this movie begins to shine.  The fact that Dale Earnhart Jr. is depicted as a car is a nice touch.  Other luminaries from NASCAR and the world of racing include Richard Petty, Bob Costas, Darrell Waltrip, and even Mario Andretti!  Of course, we get to see them represented as how they would look as cars. This alone is a very clever way of playing to the fans of racing.  I myself am not a huge fan of racing but I certainly knew about Petty's famous crash which is represented almost exactly as it played out in real life in this film.  Even still, there are some moments of humor that I never expected including a nod to a classic thing that happens at concerts.  The "Freebird" scene is one of the funniest and most unexpected moments in the movie and if you are not paying attention, you will miss it because it is such a throwaway gag that you'll never catch it.  But if you do, then you will know what I am talking about.     

However, it's not until Lightning ends up in Radiator Springs that this movie truly begins to shine.  The eccentric characters are an absolute hoot.  Especially with Fillmore, the hippie VW Bus played perfectly by George Carlin and his neighbor, Sarge, the military truck played by Paul Dooley.  Every morning is started by Sarge playing Revillie as he raises the flag and Fillmore playing Jimi Hendrix's take on the National Anthem, followed by the subsequent agrument as to whether Hendrix is a classic or not.  Then there is Mater the rusted up tow truck, played by Larry the Cable Guy.  I will go on record by saying that I absolutely love Mater and the developmtne of the character in the animated shorts that play on the Disney Channel where he recounts his exploits through tall tales are nothing short of hysterically brilliant.  Even still, the character has tremendous heart and easily one of the funniest characters in the movie.  Paul Newman as Doc Hudson adds credibility to the role and was a great final performance for the legendary actor. 

The true heart of the movie however makes itself apparent when we learn the truth behind Radiator Springs.  Without going too much into spoilers, for the benefit of those who have yet to see the movie,  Radiator Springs was a major stop on the famous Route 66.  Like most of the locations on the real Route 66, much of it has become forgotten due to the interstate highway.  This movie encourages its audiences to take their time on the road when on a trip.  Stop and see the sights.  You might see something that you never knew existed. 

Cars captures much of the iconography of Route 66 with some really clever artistic touches.  What we know as Cadillac Ranch in leal life, is seen as the Cadillac Range which is depicted as a mountain range in the shape of the cadillacs that are at this actual famous Route 66 location. As per usual for a Pixar film, the attention to detail is insane.  Yes, they wisely skirt issues like how the cars reproduce, and any other technicalities that leave people who like to overthink scratching their heads, but the animation, the backgrounds, settings, everything are just simply a sight to behold.  Even the bumper stickers that are prominent on characters throughout are filled with some great inside jokes and nuance that you just don;t get anywhere else.  Unfortunately most of this high detail is not visible to the human eye save for the wonderful toy collection that I have been slowly amassing since they debuted in stores back in 2006.  Only then can you really appreciate the detail that has gone into these characters. 

I fully acknowledge that this is not the best loved Pixar film by many.  I will say this however.  Very much like Toy Story, the power of these characters is undeniable.  My son is absolutely in love with Lightning McQueen and Mater and I only have to watch the movie with him to know that the movie is working on some level.  And it is quite clever and funny, very much in true Pixar fashion.  That being said, Cars is really a much better film than most think it is.  I actually like it more than one of Pixar's earlier efforts, Bug's Life.  So if you dare, give Cars a chance.  You might actually like it.

Editor's Note: Yes, this is defintely a better film than Jason X and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen combined!


I don't hate Cars, but it is my least favorite of the Pixar movies. Parts of it are great -- almost any time Mater is on screen, the Car Talk guys cameo -- and I don't regret having seen it. But it drags and drags and drags in the middle. It's the only of the Pixar movies that feels padded to me.

It's not my least favorite of the Pixar movies. For me, Bug's Life is my least favorite. It simply has not aged as well as the other movies. Mater steals every scene that he is in with Cars so this one rates higher than Bug's Life for me.

WHOA! After the Toy Story Trilogy, Bug's Life is my next favorite Pixar movie. My least favorite is probably Ratatouille just for the absurd rat controlling human aspect of it.

I like Cars and seeing it through the eyes of my 6 year-old bumps it up a few notches to me. One of my issues with it is -- (in scary narrarator voice) "In a World without Humans. . ." why do cars have door handles or doors or locks? This is a middle of the road Pixar flick for me.

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