‘Cars’ movie review
By Sonam Kaloti, Arts Editor
In this column I review movies that are hugely popular in the Western world—ones which I haven’t seen before. This is a fresh and unbiased take on those classic films, without the rose-coloured glasses of childhood nostalgia influencing my perspective.
The movie begins with Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) brooding over his lack of breakfast—which I’d suppose would just be oil? I don’t see McQueen eating a bowl of cereal before a race, but maybe he does. World building is a real spectacle sometimes.
The beginning is made like a Hallmark movie plot. Spoiled rich kid (car) from the big city is placed in a small town to learn the true meaning of Christmas, or in this case, the importance of friends and family.
The “Life is a Highway” track is an immediate hit. Like most kids, this song is iconic and reminiscent of my childhood—but unlike most kids, I know it from the Beanie Babies virtual world, which I’m not completely convinced was real… it could have just been a figment of my imagination.
Disney+ offers a surround-sound experience, so watching Cars with all the panning feels much more immersive. It’s sadly no good for anyone watching off of your screenshare, though. Not saying that happened!
The art style is pretty, yet incredibly creepy. The shine on some of the higher end cars is gorgeous and realistic, as are the dust clouds when they drive on dirt roads. Yet, the tongues! Why do cars have tongues and teeth!? It’s weird, it’s creepy, and I hate it.
As the film goes on, it feels more and more like a nightmare. From huge car crash in the first race scene, to Frank, a giant, angry, combine harvester chasing you in menacing light, the movie can be terrifying. Fun fact, McQueen actually has a nightmare about Frank in the movie, and this was soon after I’d already concluded that Frank was nightmare fuel.
There’s a weird nostalgia scene where it shows the town of Radiator Springs in its glory days. Sad music plays over a montage and it’s completely unnecessary. Kids haven’t experienced the feeling of nostalgia enough to make sense of the scene.
I don’t really know who my favourite character is. Despite good character arcs and well thought out personality characteristics, I don’t find any character particularly likeable. Chick Hicks, the real asshole of the movie, entertained me the most. However, he sucks, and there’s no rational reason to like him the most— I like him mostly because of my disposition towards awfully arrogant and cocky people. I’m not into a car, though, so please don’t force me onto My Strange Addiction.
Mater has good quips because he’s so dumb—and that stupidity is basically raw wit. “He won three piston cups!” “He did what in his cup?” Classic. However, there are jokes in the film that didn’t age well at all. There are some that are plain sexist and racist, such as McQueen’s treating of every “female” car like an object, including Sally Carrera, who he ends up with. Many cars have unrealistic accents and stereotypes, all which appear to be added only for comedic effect.
Throughout the movie, there are adult jokes thrown around that no child would have understood. One is near the beginning of the film when McQueen just wins a race. Two—seemingly teen—female fans drive up to him, squealing and flashing their headlights at him (implying another type of flashing), to which McQueen replies, “Oh, I love being me.”
Another is when McQueen drives off a cliff right into some cacti, and the hippie car, Fillmore, says, “Bad trip, man.”
Overall, the movie is weird. Considering I was entertained throughout it though, I figured I’d give it a high rating—but honestly a three out of five feels like it’s pushing it, now that I look back on all its flaws. Well, for a movie from 2006, it’s not bad. Thirteen years later though, it doesn’t hold up. The movie is iffy, aside from the part where Owen Wilson says “Wow!”—because that’ll never get old.