In my opinion, Cars is a fantastic movie, and I have no idea why people dislike it so much. Opening in June of 2006, it premiered at number one with $60 million and stayed at number one for two weeks in a row. Finishing at the North American box office with over $244 million dollars and an international total of over $218 million, for a worldwide total of over $462 million dollars. Yes, it’s not in the billion dollar club like Finding Dory, but Cars was and is a hit movie.
Since it premiered, it has always been maligned by critics and a multitude of fans. Cars is often referenced as the beginning of the downfall of Pixar masterpieces and criticized endlessly for the billions in merchandise this movie spawned. Personally, people need to lighten up!
Here my top reasons why everyone should give Cars another look:
He is the stereotypical hotshot athlete who cares for nothing but himself. His treatment for his pit crew and his sponsors after the first race shows the audience who is number one in Lightning’s eye. But we quickly see the personal side to Lightning. When offered free tickets to the final race in California for his friends and family, he has no one to give them to. Lightning is lonely. When he gets caught in Radiator Springs, his arrogance is obvious, but his destruction of the town road and his incarceration has brought him the home he has craved for a long time. He is embraced by Mater and a friendship is born. The humanity he builds while in Radiator Springs makes Lightning a different racer than the start of the film. When he is within meters of winning, McQueen sacrifices his success to help the crashed Mr. The King. The humility he gained from being guided by characters like Doc Hudson, helped Lightning to see the real victories in life, not trophies. Sometimes you can be the winner, even if you don’t get an award.
The Fabulous Hudson Hornet, Piston Cup champion of the previous era is now Doc Hudson, town judge and doctor to the cars of Radiator Springs. He is the opposite of Lightning, crusty and secretive, but his relationship with McQueen will help both race cars. Doc Hudson is that athlete that was burned by the sport so he ran away and hid. To Lightning, Doc is the mentor that he needs, and will ultimately shape his future. Plus, being voiced by race car enthusiast and legendary actor Paul Newman adds a gravitas to the character and the film. As much as the audience roots for Lightning, you root for Doc too that he will accept his past and use his experience to help Lightning.
An animated movie that contains a soundtrack from Chuck Berry, James Taylor, Rascal Flatts and Sheryl Crow is a diverse group of musicians. The music adds depth to the story, and for a movie that is about talking cars, the music helps sell the story to us. James Taylor’s Our Town makes us feel for the residents of Radiator Springs with his soft melody about loss and change. Sheryl Crow’s Real Gone starts the movie off with the kinetic vibe of sports and action that lifts the movie and gets the audience excited at the opening credits. Chuck Berry’s Route 66 helps tell a hidden story, a passion for the automobile and the history of the car in America is tied up in thousands of journeys on Route 66 driving across America. The countless millions of people who may have found Chuck Berry because of Cars is a worthy enough accomplishment.
Cars is a beautiful movie. The visuals of the movie, from the race track to the drive Lightning takes with Sally is stunning for its quality in detail and the realness of the scenes. The start of the movie shows us how far animation has progressed since Toy Story. As you watch the scene with Lightning being pulled by Mack to the final race in California, the cross country montage of the roads they travel is incredible. Take a moment and sit and enjoy and marvel at what the artists have created.
The cutest little town in Carburetor County is without a doubt the real star of Cars. The town that time forgot and McQueen stumbled upon, is a quiet voice that is powerful in the direction of the characters. With the little courthouse and one cop police department, viewers wonder at what Radiator Springs used to be. The melodic story montage of life in the town prior to the highway is as emotionally powerful as the montage at the beginning of Up. A town that lived and died with the construction of the freeway bypass. What is left is the ones who couldn’t or wouldn’t leave. You see the boarded up buildings, and you think that these characters are remnants of a bygone era. With McQueen spending most of the film in Radiator Springs, we get to see how the ripple effect of his presence changes the town forever. You route for Radiator Springs as much as you cheer for McQueen in the Piston Cup, and you want to see the town shine again.
Cars has received too much flak for its commercial and merchandise success. The fact is, this story has a lot more depth and heart than just a means to sell toys. After all, it was nominated for two Academy Awards, and not all Pixar films can claim that accolade. So I not only look fondly back at the franchises first entry but also look forward to Cars 3, opening this week.