While traveling to California to race against The King and Chick Hicks for the Piston Cup Championship, Lightning McQueen becomes lost in a run down town called Radiator Springs after falling out of his trailer. While there he slowly befriends the town’s odd residents, including Sally, Doc Hudson, and Mater. But will he decide to stay or leave?
You know, sometimes I wonder why I love this movie so much. I mean, it’s about cars. And it’s a pretty run-of-the-mill plot when you think about it (‘arrogant jerk winds up in a small town and learns to be a better person/car’). And the first time I watched Cars I did think it was boring and clichéd and over-rated. So what changed? I really don’t know. I watched it once and hated it and then I watched it a second time a while later and and found myself becoming so emotionally involved in the story + characters that I’ve loved the movie ever since. I’ve seen it maybe five or six times now, all the way through, and countless re-watches of certain parts (because my siblings have watched it so often and I’ll be doing other stuff and wander in whenever to catch my favorite parts).
Anyway, the point is that I love Cars now. It’s swiftly moving up my list of favorite animated movies (and favorite movies in general). I know with all the other great films Pixar has put out recently it tends to get dumped with the Monsters movies and A Bug’s Life (if it weren’t for all the merchandising, I think it would fade away into the background altogether), but Cars is one of my favorite Pixar movies ever. If not my absolute favorite. (I’m totally doing a Pixar blogathon one of these days. Just so you know.) Yes, the story is a little predictable but the great visuals, awesome characters, and emotional core that drives (pun totally intended) the whole thing really pull the movie together, in my opinion.
My favorite thing, hands down, about Cars is the characters. Definitely. It’s rare that I like a main character the most (side characters/villains are usually much more interesting than the hero/heroine) but Lightning McQueen is the BEST. I love his name, I love all his snarky comments (except for the “Well, it matches the rest of the town” line because that is unacceptable), and I love how he softens so gradually toward Radiator Springs and its inhabitants. It beautifully subtle. And we really see the town through his eyes ’cause everyone is pretty weird in the beginning and it’s neat to see how, as McQueen becomes more familiar with everything and everyone, we do, too. And then there’s how he’s so changed by the end of the movie… *sniffff*
Doc Hudson tugs at my heart. His story/character arc is bittersweet, especially when you remember that Cars was Paul Newman’s last film – I don’t think he could have had a more poignant role for his last one, even if he did only do the voice work. (Also, did you know that Paul Newman was a professional race car driver? So cool.) Mater, however, is another story. I tend to dislike sidekicks like Mater (Olaf, anyone?) and I always go into Cars thinking that I can’t stand Mater, only to find that he’s actually not all that bad. In fact, I get emotional over a couple of his lines. (“I knew it! I knowed I made a good choice!” “In what?” “My best friend.”) Plus, he’s actually pretty funny most of the time. (It’s Cars 2 where he really gets annoying.) As for the rest of the characters: I like Sally, but she’s really only there as The Love Interest. Luigi and Guido are favorites, as is the Sheriff. Chick is awful, the King is sweet, and Mack is great (John Ratzenberger cameo!). Don’t know much about Ramone or Flo, Lizzie or Red (though Red is still makes me smile). Fillmore and Sarge crack me up.
Everyone always gushes about the ‘When She Loved Me’ montage in Toy Story 2 as being so tear-jerking but, for me, it doesn’t even come close to the ‘Our Town’ montage. Nope. Not even close. IT’S SO SAD, GUYS. They built a town and it was perfect and busy and wonderful and then the stupid highway came through, but they still stayed and…I’ve just got a lot of feelings and, again, I don’t know why exactly. It’s not as obviously emotional as some other scenes Pixar’s come out with, but it hits me in the heart all the same. That, plus the dance-on-the-new-road, plus the ending of the big race, are the three scenes that make always me cry. (Also, Doc Hudson. Because of reasons.) It’s a pretty feelsy movie for me, which I still can’t wrap my head around because it’s just, y’know, cars. What’s so emotional about cars? A lot, I guess.
Wow. This review ended up being way longer than I expected. Thanks for reading it all!
Have you ever watched Cars? What’s your favorite Pixar movie?