- "Life's a journey - Enjoy the trip."
Cars is a feature film released by The Walt Disney Company and Pixar Animation Studios on June 9, 2006. It is the first film in the Cars series, as well as one of the first installments of the overall series, being released only three days after Cars: The Video Game and Cars: Radiator Springs Adventures. The film stars Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, and Larry the Cable Guy, and revolves around a rookie race car named Lightning McQueen, who finds himself stranded in the small town of Radiator Springs after a series of unplanned events.
StoryCars opens with the final race of the 2006 Piston Cup racing season at the Motor Speedway of the South, where thirty-six race cars are competing for the Piston Cup trophy. Among these cars is Lightning McQueen, a gifted but over-confident rookie race car that is focused more on the perks of winning over the fun of racing. McQueen's biggest competitors include seven-time Piston Cup champion Strip Weathers, who is retiring at the end of the season, and Chick Hicks, a foul player and consistent runner-up. Lightning's arrogance leads him to refuse pit stops while gaining a large lead on the other racers, which ultimately backfires when his rear tires blow out and he is left desperately inching for the finish line. Hicks, Weathers, and McQueen all cross the finish line at the same time, resulting in the first three-way tie in Piston Cup history. A tie-breaker race is set to occur in Los Angeles, California, and Hicks and McQueen make a bet in which the first one to reach the Los Angeles International Speedway wins.
Intent on beating Hicks, McQueen convinces his transport truck, Mack, to drive through the night. Although Mack tries his best to keep his word, he ends up falling asleep on the highway, and a gang of delinquents begin to mess with him. Unbeknownst to them, their harassment causes one of Lightning's souvenirs to fall off a shelf, opening the trailer door, which a sleeping Lightning then falls out of. McQueen wakes up in the middle of the highway, and begins searching for Mack, and he sees a trailer turning on one of the exits. McQueen pursuits it only to discover that it is not Mack, and he turns and drives down Interstate 40 in hopes of finding help.
As Lightning is racing down the road at high speeds, he passes and awakens Sheriff, the local police officer, who then begins chasing and shooting at McQueen. Scared, Lightning drives through a small town, and accidentally knocks a statue off its pedestal and begins to drag it down the main road, ripping it up. After Sheriff catches Lightning, he is put in the Radiator Springs Municipal Impound, all while Mack arrives at the Los Angeles International Speedway without McQueen, causing Lightning's disappearance to make national sports headlines.
Lightning awakens to the greeting of a rusty tow truck named Mater, who informs him that he is the impound of Radiator Springs, and is almost tricked into setting McQueen free until Sheriff arrives to escort Lightning to his trial at the courthouse. Doc Hudson, the local judge and doctor, almost pardons Lightning, until Sally Carrera convinces him to sentence McQueen to community service, with McQueen having to repair the road with Bessie, the town's road paving machine.
After an attempt to finish the road as fast as possible, doing a poor job in the process, the residents feel insulted, and Doc, to everyone's surprise, challenges Lightning to a race to determine what will happen - if Lightning wins, he can leave, but if Doc wins, he has to tear up the new asphalt and start over. The race is held at Willy's Butte, and when it starts, McQueen rockets off at high speeds while Hudson simply stands still at the finish line. Confused, the residents watch as Doc slowly drives to the finish line, while McQueen attempts to make the final turn, but his unfamiliarity with dirt tracks causes him to fail and fall into a cactus patch. Lightning then returns to Bessie and starts over with the road.
When the townsfolk wake in the morning, they are surprised to find the road halfway done, and are amazed by the quality of it. However, Doc notices McQueen missing, and finds him practicing down at Willy's Butte, where he gives him advice about turning on dirt tracks. Lightning rejects his advice, deeming Hudson a "crazy old car". Meanwhile, Sheriff informs Mater that he will be off-duty for the day, and tasks the tow truck with keeping an eye on McQueen.
Mater does as he is told until night falls, where the two sneak off to go Tractor Tipping in Frank's fields. However, their shenanigans capture the attention of Frank, a large combine with a deadly spinner blade at his front, resulting in a high speed chase, with the two just barely escaping the field and returning home, but forgetting to close the gate to the field. On the drive back home, McQueen realizes that, for the first time, he has made a friend, and the two discuss various things, including how Lightning has a crush on the local lawyer and motel owner, Sally, who overhears and offers Lightning a free motel room, where Lightning spends the night.
The following day, after complaining to Doc about his community service, Lightning angrily kicks a can into Doc's garage, which creates a loud noise. Checking to see if he broke anything, Lightning discovers that Doc was once a three-time Piston Cup champion named the Fabulous Hudson Hornet, before being forced to retire after a bad accident. Hudson, however, catches him, and when Lightning questions why he kept his racing history a secret, he is thrown out of the garage.
McQueen then races to Flo's V8 Café to inform the other townspeople of his new discovery, but they do not believe him, claiming a grumpy old car like Doc could never be a professional race car. Sally invites Lightning to a drive, and the two race up to the Wheel Well Motel in Tailfin Pass, where Sally tells Lightning about the history of Radiator Springs, and how it was once a popular town, but upon the construction of the Interstate, no one visited anymore, and the town was eventually taken off the map.
When Lightning and Sally return to Radiator Springs, they are greeted by Mater, who warns them of a horde of Tractors that subsequently come stampeding through the town, as a result of Mater and McQueen forgetting to close the gate to Frank's field the night before. The townsfolk try their best to get all of the Tractors back to where they belong, and when one starts cruising off to Willy's Butte, Lightning follows it, but, to his surprise, finds Doc in his old racing tires, practicing around the Willy's Butte oval. McQueen compliments Doc on his skills, but Hudson grumpily dismisses it, but Lightning still follows him home. At Doc's garage, Hudson explains why he gave up his racing life. and gives Lightning the advice that a trophy is "just an empty cup."
At sunrise the following day, the residents of Radiator Springs awaken to find the road completed and Lightning nowhere to be seen, and sadly discuss McQueen's abscence. Lightning, however, rolls up and questions what the fuss is about, and the townsfolk inform him that he is free to leave and arrive at his big race in Los Angeles. Lightning, however, calls upon his new friends for new equipment and assistance.
Lightning surprises Sally with a new paint job from Ramone, and the Radiator Springs inhabitants enjoy a "cruise night" for the first time in a long while. However, it is interrupted when a helicopter shines a light on McQueen, and a large group of press cars storm the town and swarm around Lightning. Despite McQueen's protests, he is taken away to the speedway by Mack, and Kori Turbowitz thanks Doc Hudson for alerting them of Lightning's location. Because of this action, the rest of the townsfolk sadly go to sleep, leaving Doc alone in the streets.
The tie-breaker race takes place the next day, and when Lightning arrives, he only has Mack for a pit crew. While taking practice laps, Lightning cannot get his mind off of his new friends, but is surprised to find that they come to the speedway to act as McQueen's pit crew. The race then begins, with Lightning managing to acquire a huge lead towards the end of the race. However, Chick, who is sick of placing behind Weathers, performs a PIT maneuver on the old-timer, causing him to spin out into the infield, taking visibly large amounts of damage in the process.
Upon seeing a video of the damaged Weathers on the speedway's big-screen, Lightning is reminded of Hudson's wreck, and, to the audience's confusion and surprise, Lightning brakes to a complete stop just short of the finish line, allowing Chick to win the race. Everyone's attention is on McQueen, however, and they watch with interest as Lightning slowly backs up to The King, and aids him to the finish line.
Because of this, Lightning is considered by many to be the true winner of the race, and when Hicks appears on stage to collect his trophy, he is booed and slammed with confetti cannons. After being thanked by Weathers' wife, Lightning is approached by Tex Dinoco, who offers him the coveted Dinoco sponsorship. McQueen declines the offer, however, instead opting to stick with the friends he has gained through Rust-eze's sponsorship. McQueen does have one request, however; for Mater to be given a ride in Rotor Turbosky, Dinoco's helicopter.
Back in Radiator Springs, Sally is overlooking the town up at the Wheel Well Motel when she is approached by Lightning, who informs her that he has decided to make the town his official headquarters, and that the town has been placed back on the map. These changes cause Radiator Springs to once again explode in popularity, and Lightning and Sally then enjoy a race back to town.
In addition, there are also some additional voice credits, although it is unknown what roles the actors play.
DevelopmentWhile Pixar was wrapping up production on A Bug's Life in the Fall of 1998, story development artist Jorgen Klubien began writing a story for a brand-new animated feature. The original script was called The Yellow Car, about an electric car living in a gas-guzzling world. Some of the original drawings and characters were produced in 1998. However, when John Lasseter reviewed the script, he didn't think it was strong enough to support an entire animated feature, saying that a bigger, stronger character needed to be dropped into the small town setting that Jorgen had initially dreamed up with. Later, production resumed with major script changes, like giving Mater, Doc and a few other characters a bigger part.
In 2001, the movie's working title was Route 66 (after U.S. Route 66), but in 2002, the title was changed to prevent people from thinking it was related to the 1960 television series with the same name. Also, Lightning McQueen's number was originally going to be 57 (Lasseter's birth year), but was changed to 95 (the year Toy Story was released), the number seen in the movie today.
While many previously created anthropomorphic vehicles had eyes where their headlights would be, the decision was made to have the Cars characters' eyes on their windshields. Director John Lasseter made this decision because not only did it separate the Cars character designs from other existing anthropomorhic vehicles, but also because he felt it helped to create a more human-like point of view, feeling as though having eyes in the headlights area made them feel more snake-like.
Most vehicles in Cars also use tires for hands, although tow truck characters also use their tow-hooks for similar purposes, as well as the pitty characters use their forklift arms.
SettingThe locations in Cars are largely inspired and based off of real-world places. The film's primary setting, Radiator Springs, is loosely based on Amboy, California in the Mojave Desert, a town that, like Radiator Springs, saw a decline in popularity following the opening of Interstate 40. The rock formations in the distance of the town are reminiscent of Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, and also resemble the quarter panels and distinctive tailfins of late-50's Cadillacs.
Another formation that overlooks Radiator Springs is the Radiator Cap, which has large "R" and "S" letters written on it. The design of the logo serves as a reference to the "RS" badge that was present on the first-generation "Rally Sport" Camaros. The logo of Flo's V8 Café is similar to the '32 Ford V8's logo, as well as the Ford V8 in the sixties, and third-generation Ford Explorers.
The nearby area of Ornament Valley is based off of Monument Valley, amd is made up of rock formations that resemble the front ends of American automobiles from the late 1930s to early 1940s. In Cars: Mater-National Championship, these formations are referred to as "turkeys".
The Motor Speedway of the South that appears in the beginning of the film is based on the real-life Bristol Motor Speedway, while the Los Angeles International Speedway is based on the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the California Speedway.
Route 66 is also heavily based off of the real-life location of the same name, and many characters and places are based upon people and places from the real-life Route 66. Ramone's House of Body Art is based on the U Drop Inn in Shamrock, Texas, while the Cozy Cone Motel's design is based on the two Wigwam Motels along Route 66, and the "HERE IT IS" sign at Lizzie's Curio Shop that depicts a Model T is based after the Jackrabbit Trading Post. Additionally, Sheriff is voiced by Michael Wallis, an American historian and the author of Route 66: The Mother Road.
ReleaseCars was originally set to release in theaters on November 7, 2005, but was pushed back to a release date of June 9, 2006 in late 2004. Steve Jobs confirmed the reason for this was because he wanted all Pixar films to be released during the summertime.
Cars was released to DVD on November 7, 2006. On November 6, 2007, Cars was released on Blu-ray, and a release of the Blu-ray Combo Pack was released on April 12, 2011. It was the first Pixar movie to get a Blu-ray. It received a Blu-ray 3D on October 29, 2013, the same month Monsters University was released on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D.
Car FinderWhen Cars saw a Blu-ray release in 2007, an additional bonus feature was included, which was a game titled "Car Finder". The game is played by watching the entire film, broken up into three chapters: Motor Speedway of the South, Radiator Springs, and Los Angeles International Speedway. At the bottom of the screen, there is a bar with artwork of five different Cars characters. Whenever one of the five appears on screen, the player must press their icon in order to unlock their bio and specifications, as well as the snapshot that they took.
Reception and rating
In its opening weekend, Cars grossed $60.1 million, lower than previous Pixar films such as The Incredibles and Finding Nemo. In the United States, the film held onto the #1 spot for two weeks before being surpassed by Click and then by Superman Returns the following weekend. It went on to gross $461,981,522 worldwide (ranking #6 in 2006 films) and $244,082,982 in the U.S. (the third highest-grossing film of 2006 in the country, behind Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Night at the Museum). It was the highest-grossing animated film of 2006 in the U.S., but lost to Ice Age: The Meltdown in worldwide totals.
The film has 75% on the Rotten Tomatoes.Com Tomatometer, making it one of three Pixar films lower than 90%, after Cars 2 and Brave.
Critics have stated that Cars did not do as well critically as other films. "The movie is great to look at and a lot of fun," says critic Roger Ebert, "but somehow lacks the extra push of the other Pixar films." Reeling Reviews wrote that the film's "only real drawback is its failure to inspire awe with its visuals and to thoroughly transport with its storytelling."
Although the movie was rated G in the United States, it was rated PG in the United Kingdom.
- Main article: Cars/Errors
- Main article: Cars/Deleted elements
References in later media
- Cars: The Video Game: Many of the buildings and environments featured in Radiator Springs. Motor Speedway of the South and Los Angeles International Speedway both return as racing arenas. Tractor tipping is also a minigame.
- Cars: Radiator Springs Adventures: Many of the minigames are based around scenes from the movie.
- Mater and the Ghostlight: The Ghostlight returns, which was previously mentioned by Mater when Kathy Copter shines her light down on Lightning.
- Cars: Mater-National Championship: Tractor tipping is a minigame featured in this game.
- Rescue Squad Mater: Many characters in this short are based on characters from the movie, such as Nurse Kori and Rescue Squad Trooper.
- Mater the Greater: The stadium where Mater performs most of his tricks is the Motor Speedway of the South.
- The World of Cars Online: Many locations from Cars make re-appearances in this game.
- Cars 2: A direct sequel to Cars.
- Cars: Fast as Lightning: One of Lightning's paint jobs, "Retro Look", references his appearance in Cars.
- Main article: Cars/Staff
Opening Race - The score that plays at the Motor Speedway of the South
Bessie - The score that plays as Doc introduces McQueen to Bessie
|Tractor Tipping - The score that plays while McQueen and Mater are tractor tipping|
|McQueen and Sally - The score that plays during McQueen and Sally's drive|
|The Big Race - The score that plays at the Los Angeles International Speedway|
- For this subject's image gallery, see Cars/Gallery.
- For a full list of quotes, see Cars/Quotes.
- Many references to other Pixar properties are made; the birds from For the Birds appear sitting on telephone wires during the montage of Mack and McQueen's journey to the Los Angeles Speedway, the sponsor Dinoco and the character Todd are based on the respective gas station and Pizza Planet truck from Toy Story, Syd VanDerKamper's flamingos are a reference to Knick Knack, Knick from Knick Knack appears in a snow globe owned by Lizzie, car-themed versions of Toy Story, A Bug's Life and Monsters, Inc. are shown in the end credits, Bud's rear has a picture of the jackalope from Boundin', and one of the trucks at the Top Down Truckstop has Mr. Incredible's "i" logo on it. The tires of Piston Cup racers are Lightyear tires, which alludes both to the tire manufacturer Goodyear, and to Buzz Lightyear. They also bear the inscription "Section 4 Gamma Quadrant", the location where Buzz is seen in the video game in Toy Story 2.
- Cars is the second Pixar film to have a post-credits sequence. The first is Finding Nemo.
- At the tie-breaker race at the Los Angeles International Speedway, while three fighter jets pass over the stadium, Pixar Animation Studios can be seen among the nearby buildings, although the real studio is located at Emeryville, near San Francisco, not at Los Angeles.
- On average, it took 17 hours to render each frame of the film. In addition, it was the first Pixar film to use ray-tracing to accurately create the reflections on the cars.
- The plot of Cars bears a striking resemblance to that of Doc Hollywood.
- Many famous celebrities, particularly from the automobile racing world, make a cameo appearance in Cars, which include Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mario Andretti, Michael Schumacher, Bob Costas, Darrell Waltrip and Jay Leno; references to Schwarzenegger and Elvis, are also made.
- This film demonstrates Pixar's most extensive use of product placement seen in any of its films thus far, with automobile brands, both current and defunct.
- In Lightning's dream about Lightning Storm, a car gets zapped and emits the Wilhelm scream. The Wilhelm scream is a sound effect used in many movies.
- This is the last Pixar film to have a fullscreen format for its US home release, as well as Pixar's longest film to date, spanning 1 hour and 56 minutes.
- The film is also the second Pixar film to have an entirely non-human cast, after A Bug's Life.
- This was the final film Joe Ranft worked on, as he died in a car accident the year before, while the film was still in production.
- This is the last Pixar film to have a VHS release (though rare), and the first to have a Blu-ray release.
- Throughout the film, McQueen goes through fourteen different paint variants, including when he gets different amounts of dust and dirt on his bodywork.