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Cars (Widescreen Edition) (2006)

A Pixar movie directed by John Lasseter

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Still Charming Half a Decade Later

  • Aug 31, 2011

I don’t know about you but when I think of Pixar’s “classics” rarely is Cars the first to come to mind.  The Toy Story(s) perhaps, Monsters Inc. maybe, even Finding Nemo for those so inclined and yet it took a under-whelming sequel followed by a revisit to the DVD I thought I knew well to realize that the first Cars is the epitome of all that Pixar has come to mean to modern animation.

In the event that you’ve been living in a cave these past six years, Cars tells of a racecar sidetracked by fate on his way to The Big Race in California.  Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), a brash NASCAR rookie who unwittingly gets lost and ends up in Radiator Springs, an almost-ghost town and former hot spot along historic Route 66, now ignored by tourists and travelers alike, thanks to the superhighway that bypasses the town.

In the process of arriving, McQueen inadvertently tears up the asphalt of Main Street.  He gets arrested and is sentenced, against will and ego, to repave the damaged street.

While paying his debt to society, McQueen encounters a 1951 Hudson Hornet, a rusty but lovable tow truck, a hippy 1960 VW bus, a classy but confident Porsche and a herd of tractors prone to tipping over and fluctuating exhaust fumes out of fright.

The racing action certainly gets its due to be sure and kids have proven that a ragtag group of vehicles with eyes behind their windshields works just fine as toys, school folders, and backpacks.  But it is John Lasseter's underlying message that couldn't be clearer here: Pay attention to what matters: family, friends, true love, and it doesn’t hurt to appreciate cars either.

NASCAR-fans had much to celebrate, as did car-racing aficionados of all disciplines for that matter but it’s the nostalgia of society’s collective switch in thinking (from the scenery of iconic Route 66 being traded for the efficiency of the superhighway) that I found most prolific this time around.

Even though 2006 might as well be eons ago in the ever-advancing world of computer animating technology, the visuals in Cars still manage to impress (especially in high-definition); a fact perhaps further enhanced by the abundance of heart within the prose.

In all, and contrary to the trend that Pixar just continues to outdo itself in each subsequent effort, it is almost ironic that having watched the lackluster sequel in the theater led me back to the original and of course to rediscovering the charms that separate the good films from the great ones.

Still Charming Half a Decade Later Still Charming Half a Decade Later Still Charming Half a Decade Later Still Charming Half a Decade Later

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September 07, 2011
Yeah this was a fun one
September 01, 2011
I re-watched this on HBO before Cars 2, and while it was still good, it was definitely the weakest of the Pixar movies. The sequel was even more lacking...unfortunately. Thanks, Jay!
September 02, 2011
So true Will, think Pixar's slipping a bit since "the Diz" absorbed them?
September 02, 2011
Marvel has been slipping since the "Diz" absorbed them, so Pixar would be influenced as well....c'mon Wolverine and Spidey in almost every comic published? embarrassing!!
September 03, 2011
Good call Will! A shame for sure. Speaking of, Thor is out on Blu, I'll have to rent that one. I also picked up the first two volumes of the animated Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes not realizing the final two volumes don't come out until the end of October. I'm going to try to wait till the collection is complete before diving in. Did you see any of that series per chance?
More Cars (2006) reviews
review by . March 16, 2011
This is currently the only Pixar film that has under 90 on the Tomatometer, like A Bug's Life is the only one under a 95 (besides this). I personally agree that it isn't quite as good as the other pixar films like Toy Story and Monsters Inc, but it still has the heart, humour, and technical brilliance that is standard in Pixar. Plus hey, it was good enough to warrant a sequel, which I can't wait to see.      An animated movie that is based on cars is a rather peculiar …
review by . November 02, 2008
A tale about a red race car   A cheeky little brute   A lean and mean racing machine   but really very cute     He dreamed of glory and of fame   The rookie was obsessed   He had to win the Piston Cup   To prove he was the best     He had a blow-out, tied the race   With Chick Hicks and The King   Soon he was California bound   Where he could do his thing     The …
review by . August 20, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Cars was the 7th feature film created by Pixar studios and it kept up the trend of excellent Pixar productions. Managing to win Pixar its 3rd consecutive best Animated Feature Academy award, there was no denying how good this film was. The story is cliché but the concept is still as fresh as Toy Story was back in the day. Its colourful and detailed environments, cars and sequences are put together brilliantly. Pixar makes its movies with this confidence in their own abilities. They seem to never …
review by . September 18, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Amusing story line, solid animation. Great soundtrack with Sheryl Crow singing the song "Real Gone"     Cons: Can't wait to see Cars II     The Bottom Line: A solid family film. Funny yet a movie with a heart about discovering real values such as love and friendship.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. My son is two and he loves cars. We received this DVD as a gift and currently we have watched …
review by . November 15, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
My son and I watched Cars on the big screen and I LOVED it! The songs were perfect--especially Real Gone and Life is a Highway.     I've just watched the movie again, twice, on DVD. Unfortunately, my 25 inch TV screen doesn't do this movie justice! (It's one of those movies that pack a wallop when watched on the big screen...)    The realism achieved in this movie is amazing, especially with Lightning's shiny red paint job and the "fumes" rising from the drag …
review by . November 08, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
'Cars' relies on such a beautiful personification, we forget the characters are really cars. The whole human world has been transfigured, as "Braking News" comes on television, and cars watch their fellow heroes in Nascar-type races in the stands. Playfully, we enter into the world of "Lightning McQueen" (Owen Wilson) who is trying to win his first "Piston Cup". He is full of himself and not just engine oil, so he lazily creates a three-way tie with two other prima dona cars. The tie-breaker takes …
review by . October 23, 2006
Criticism of this movie is a mystery to me. My kids has so far place this movie on there top ten mini lists. I have yet to see a bad Pixar film (even "A Bug's Life" is still entertaining, for kids anyway) and the only reason that I can think of is how difficult it is to follow a film of such real quality like "The Incredibles". I'm honestly struggling to think of a fault with this film which is bright, colourful, noisy and funny - perfect for the younger members of your family. But there is also …
review by . August 15, 2006
In Pixar's CARS, directed by TOY STORY director John Lasseter, the world is populated entirely by - you guessed it - cars. So it's only natural that the biggest event in the entire car world is the Piston Cup, the world's most popular race (inspired by the ever-popular NASCAR racing). This year, the public's rooting for Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), an immensely-talented albeit egotistic rookie. While traveling to California to prepare for the Piston Cup, Lightning's driver, Mack (John …
About the reviewer

Ranked #14
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on Amazon.com) is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing.      … more
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About this movie


There's an extra coat of hot wax on Pixar's vibrant, NASCAR-influenced comedy about a world populated entirely by cars. Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) is the slick rookie taking the Piston Cup series by storm when the last race of the season (the film's high-octane opening) ends in a three-way tie. On the way to the tie-breaker race in California, Lightning loses his way off Route 66 in the Southwest desert and is taught to stop and smell the roses by the forgotten citizens of Radiator Springs. It's odd to have such a slim story from the whizzes of Pixar, and the film pales a bit from their other films (though can that be a fair comparison?). Nonetheless,Carsis another gleaming ride with Pixar founder John Lasseter, who's directing for the first time sinceToy Story 2. There's the usual spectrum of excellent characters teamed with appropriate voice talent, loads of smooth humor for kids and parents alike, knockout visuals, and a colorful array of sidekicks, including a scene-stealing baby blue forklift named Guido. Lightning's plight is changed with the help of former big-city lawyer Sally Carrera (Pixar veteran Bonnie Hunt), the town's patriarch Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), and kooky tow truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy).The Incredibleswas the first Pixar film to break the 100-minute barrier, but had enough story not to suffer;Cars, at 116 minutes (including some must-see end credit footage), is not as fortunate, plus it never pierces ...
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Director: Joe Ranft
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family
DVD Release Date: November 7, 2006
Runtime: 116 minutes
Studio: Walt Disney Video
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