Cars is one of those films that will always have a special place in my heart. It is definitely a movie that defined my childhood and was one of my early obsessions. In my eyes it is the best Disney Pixar film of them all and some of Disney’s best work. I have watched this movie over and over again throughout my lifetime, and I’ve probably watched it more than any other movie. For what is considered a kid’s film, it has a really clever concept, a lot of really interesting characters with great character arcs, and they have developed a really creative world. It was a movie I really loved and connected to as a kid and I still love watching it. It takes me back to a time when I still played with my cars and wore Cars PJs to bed.
I’m going to start with my experience at the Disney Land theme park, Cars Land. It is basically a perfect replica of the movie version of Radiator Springs. It’s probably sad to say that being in Cars Land at California’s Disney Land was one of the best moments of my life. It felt like I was living out my childhood fantasy. Not only did they recreate the town of Radiator Springs but the night time neon lighting of Cars Land show is incredible. The neon lights all turn on at the same timing as in the movie. It felt like you were transported into the movie. You become a part of their world and I think that is something really special that Disney has created. I mean Lightning McQueen even drives down the street. It’s one of the best lands within the park and you really have to hand it to Disney to make a land like this. Plus, the ride ( Radiator Springs Racers) provides the best experience for all the cars movie lovers out there. Once again taking you into the land of Cars and I was really happy with my experience there. It made me feel like a four year-old again and I loved it.
Something that always stood out to me from the movie was the soundtrack. The movie starts off with a bang and I feel like that wouldn’t be as memorable as a scene without the use of the song “Real Gone”, sung by Sheryl Crow. Another great scene is when Mack is taking McQueen to Los Angeles to the song “Life is a Highway” sung by Rascal Flatts. It’s just a light hearted, feel good scene and I think the song really helps take you to a happy place. I also liked the use of the song “Our Town” that added emphasis to the loss the town has gone through. However, no one can forget “Sh-boom” when they turn on the neon lights, as it is such a prominent scene in the film. I also really like the more orchestrated music used in this film like the theme “McQueen and Sally” which was used when they went on their drive to ‘Wheel-Well’. I think they use music in a strong and creative way. I remember listening to “Life is a Highway” on road trips or “Real Gone” on my runs. They are just fun songs that really added to the feel that they were trying to achieve.
Now when we look at the sequels, I have a lot of issues with them. Honestly, they should have stopped at the first one, but it made money and movies that make money get sequels. First of all, I pretend that Cars 2 never happened. There is a British car, cars that are spies, Mator is the lead of the movie, and an Italian car tries to steal Sally from McQueen. It’s just not good and I think for a film that had so much potential it really flopped. It ruins the whole tone of the first film. In Cars 3 they fixed this mistake by taking many elements from the first movie and bringing them back. The story basically comes full circle as now McQueen is a crew chief like his mentor, Doc. The whole movie is pretty much dedicated to the late Paul Newman’s character Doc Hudson. They don't really give any information about the character’s death, however I don’t think they needed to, given it is a movie for a younger audience.
I’d say Cars 3 was good because it returned the series of films to its original roots in Radiator Springs. The small town everyone fell in love with. This really was their chance to redeem themselves following Cars 2. The first thing I noticed was how similar the soundtrack was to the original movie with its country-rock feel. A lot of the scenes are similar, for example the whole opening scene. If you were a fan of the original movie, you will like Cars 3, since they bring back a lot of the original theme. I saw Cars 3 twice in the theatre, the first time with my friends and the second time with my family. When McQueen wrecks it felt like I was watching my childhood hero die, but I mean he ends up being okay. That whole scene was done really well by the animators, and it looks like they took a lot of inspiration from real racing. I really liked the introduction to the film because it shows the new camaraderie in the racing world that McQueen has created, as opposed to the teasing between McQueen and Chick Hicks in the first movie. When he was a rookie he had no friends and he only cared about what was good for him, but by the last film he has all these friends and it hurts him to see them all retire.
Cars 3 seems to be the end of the era, but we really don’t know what will happen to this franchise. The idea of McQueen training the next generation is an interesting concept because it leaves room to bring in new characters. If there is to be a Cars 4, we might even see a new lead to the film. For example, the Cars 3 fan favourite, Cruz Ramirez. Box Office wise, Cars 3 didn’t do great in comparison to 2006’s Cars and 2011’s Cars 2. However, you take in the money made through merchandising and it’s still something to be considered. Although, Cars 3 was still the lowest grossing film of all the Cars movies, which is something that can’t go ignored if you plan to make a project worth millions of dollars. Obviously, I’d love to see a Cars 4 within my lifetime and it will be interesting to see what they do. For now the franchise lives on as a very popular Pixar film and in Disney Land’s Cars Land.
I think the original film holds a powerful message about finding yourself. Throughout McQueen’s journey he learns about what life is like outside of the racing bubble he is used to. Radiator Springs helps him, and he helps Radiator Springs. This is a great film and a piece of growing up that I’ll never forget. It really takes me to a special place in my heart and it's one of those movies that just make you feel good. I find it interesting to go back and watch this movie and pick it apart. Cars is a very special movie to me and it is a movie that you should definitely watch if you haven’t already seen it for some reason, or re-watch it because it is just fun and comforting. You can find it on Disney + or if you are like me you have it on DVD from before Blu-ray was a thing.