MOVIE: Cars (2006)

I was just down in (sunny! warm!) San Diego for a week over Christmas, visiting my sister, her husband, and their nearly-two year-old son Luke. Luke is big into cars at the moment, and his favorite cars are the ones from the Pixar movie Cars — not because he’s a huge fan of the film itself, but because he’s read about a bazillion Cars-themed books. After a week there, I too had read about a bazillion Cars-themed books (some of them four-plus times in a row — the kid is a serious fan, I’m telling you!), and I was lovin’ them myself. But, even more fun, a couple of days after Christmas, Luke, Grandma, Grandpa, and I got to watch the actual movie together — them for the second time, me for the first.

This is a truly wonderful film for both kids and adults, as all Pixar flicks tend to be. It’s about an up-and-coming race car named Lightning McQueen (Wilson) whose priorities are all mixed up. All he cares about is winning races, and he doesn’t care who he’s got to drive over to get to the finish line. After a three-way tie for the Piston Cup, McQueen and the other two winners must drive cross-country to get to a tie-breaker race. On the way there, McQueen and his driver (a semi-truck named Mack) fall asleep and somehow McQueen ends up shooting out the back of the truck as Mack speeds off unaware anything has happened. Lost, McQueen is racing around looking for the interstate when he speeds into the small town of Radiator Springs, tearing up the blacktop behind him.

He’s promptly arrested by Sheriff and sent to court the next day for damaging city property. The judge, Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), sentences him to community service: McQueen can’t leave Radiator Springs until he’s fixed the entire road — and unless he works really fast, he’ll never make it to the big race in time.

At first, McQueen is furious; he can’t believe he’s stuck in this hick town with all these losers! But the more time he spends with the residents of Radiator Springs — including a rusty tow truck named Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), the town attorney Sally (Bonnie Hunt), and Doc Hudson, who turns out to be an old race car himself — the more he comes to realize there’s a lot more to life than just winning races.

In other words: you gotta have friends.

It’s a great story — a classic, of course — and the movie is loaded with cute and clever characters, as well as lots of “inside jokes” for the grown-ups. Of course, it helps to watch this movie with an absolutely crazy-adorable nearly-two year-old (Luke had all his Cars cars laid out on a tray in front of him while we watched, and each time a scene changed, he’d dig out the cars that matched the characters on the screen and hold them up until it was time to change cars again. Oh man, cutest thing ever!). But even if you are a grown-up alone, there’s truly a lot to love. This is another great addition to the Pixar filmography — truly the best in the kid biz, if you ask me. Highly recommended!

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Kids, Cartoon
Cast: (voices) Paul Newman, Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, Cheech Marin, John Ratzenberger, Tony Shalhoub

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