The last theatrical release of 2006 was Cars and I understand that it was quite successful because there is a Cars 2 waiting for me down the line. I was a little bit put off at first when I saw the movie was almost 2 hours long. That’s a lot for Disney. So here we go.
The movie starts with a black screen while we hear someone talking to themes. It’s a pep talk about speed and performance and we see snippets of a car race every once in a while before cutting back to black again. Then it’s revealed that the talker is, in fact, a car. ‘Real Gone’ by Sheryl Crow is playing and I’m only a little bit proud that I identified her correctly.
The car is rolled out, everyone is excited and he is a real starlet. This whole setting is a bit strange at first because there are no people but talking cars. I don’t think we have seen a world like that before where no humans exist. This is cool. Then we get a whole racing montage.
In the race, three cars are tied and our red Lightning McQueen, as a rookie, is one of them. Apparently this is a race for the Piston Cup and what they are tied in is the score before the race started. Lightning nearly gets kicked out of the race but he goes back in.
Cut to the last lap. Lightning has refused to change tires like every other car and has only refuelled during pit stops. He is also leading by almost a complete lap when one of his rear tires bursts. Then another one hurts and he has trouble getting to the finish line. Meanwhile his two competitors get closer to him. This all culminates with the three of them getting over the line too close to call.
After the race as the officials try to declare who the winner is, Lightning is mighty cocky and his crew quits but he DGAF.
The Piston Cup is announced a three way tie and there is going to be a special race to determine the winner in California. Lightning isn’t too happy with this and has to make an appearance at his sponsor which he is pretty embarrassed about. The sponsor is something to make rust disappear or so. It’s a rather awkward affair and you can tell Lightning would much rather be with the high end sponsors.
Cut to Lightning being on a truck being transported to California. Somewhere along the road the truck gets tired and Lightning promises to stay up with him but promptly falls asleep. During the night we see the truck falling asleep while driving.
Then trying to stay awake when a group of idiots arrives, playing soothing music so the truck dozes off. They open the back of the truck and Lightning, still sleeping, rolls out of there and onto the interstate where he then wakes up. He has no clue where he is and tries to catch up to the truck again only there a a LOT of trucks out there and he tries to follow what he thinks is his. Spoiler alert, it’s the wrong truck.
Lightning ends up in a small town way off the interstate. Meanwhile his truck arrives in California where the media is all curious and BOOM Lightning McQueen is gone.
In the small town, Lightning is appearing in court for something that I didn’t really pay attention to. Anyway, Doc Hudson is the judge and he doesn’t like Lightning and his kind (read: race cars). He’s dismissing the case but then a Porsche arrives. Lightning flirts with her until he learns she is the town’s attorney. She lobbies for Doc to rule on the case, he does and sentences Lightning to redo their main street. Lightning tries to reason that he needs to be in California but nobody listens/cares/knows.
Mater, the town’s tow truck, lets Lightning off the shackles too early so Lightning speeds off. Only, he doesn’t get too far before he runs out of fuel right about where the Sheriff is waiting for him. They aren’t as dumb as I originally thought they were, good. So back to road paving.
Tourists arrive being a bit lost. The town folk goes crazy but the couple doesn’t want anything to do with them.
Then Lightning fixes the road in haste and that’s what it looks like so he has to start all over again. This isn’t an easy fix, guy. Doc offers him to a race. If he wins, he gets to leave and if Lightning loses, he has to fix the road.
Ready, set, go! Lightning dashes forward while Doc Hudson doesn’t move a bit. It looks like an easy win for the race car but then a turn and nope, Lightning can’t make it and ends in the bushes which also means he lost. Womp, womp.
After Lightning ran out of asphalt in the middle of the night he asked Mater to let him try that curve again. That’s what Doc sees now. Lightning just doesn’t make it and Doc tries to help him but the young lad doesn’t take his tips, not really. So back to paving it is.
The cars in town start being more friendly and Lightning flirts with Sally. Because of course! I mean, they would be cute together though I don’t want to even think about how Cars get kids.
At night, Mater invites Lightning to go tractor tipping with him and OMG this is fun until Frank the harvester arrives and they have to make a run for it. Whoopsie. You can slowly see Lightning enjoying himself in the town though.
Later, Mater teases Lightning about him being in luurvveee with Sally. Lighting of course says it isn’t true but it’s glaringly obvious. Then Mater calls Lightning his best friend and no, I was not prepared for those feels.
The next day, Lightning wakes up from a nightmare. He visits Doc Hudson who is currently with the Sheriff so Lightning goes into Doc’s barn. There, he finds not only one but three Piston Cups in the name of Doc and he realises Doc is the legendary Hudson Hornet. Doc finds him there an dis really dismissive about the whole thing. He has left that life behind for a reason. After all, those trophies are just empty cups.
Sally and Lightning go for a drive out but I’d call it a date. It’s hella cute! Apparently, Sally formerly was a high power attorney in LA but she prefers the landscape over in the small town. She explains how the small town went from being on the map to nearly vanishing completely and she is not okay with that.
After they get back, the tractors appear, Lightning goes after a stray one but sees Doc racing by himself and is impressed because that old dude knows how to handle his shit. Doc explains to L that he had a bad crash after his third win and it took nearly a year to rebuild him. By then, everyone had moved on and nobody cared anymore. He quit and realised that racing is pretty shallow.
Lightning finally finishes the road and it looks like he disappeared without a word which makes the guys sad only, Lightning is still around.
Before he leaves, Lightning gets something from every store in town to help them. Just when he wants to seal the deal with Sally, the media arrives because they have found Lightning McQueen!!! He is rushed off to California and it’s revealed that Doc alerted the media. Sadz.
Race day. Lightning goes through his pep talk routine but you can tell his heart isn’t in it anymore and his thoughts wander to the small town, the scenery and Sally. He later even misses the start signal because of his daydreams. It’s not too bad because he still catches up or tries to at least. And then he hears Doc talking to him because all the guys are at the race now and Doc is his pit crew manager or whatever the hell one calls them! This is so stinking cute!
The media at the event goes bezerk when they realise they have the Fabulous Hudson Hornet amongst them. In the last lap, the oldest car, it’s his last race ever, crashes and can’t move so Lightning, who is leading, stops right before the finish line and lets the third car pass. It might look silly but Lightning goes back and helps the old guy finish his last race. The Green Race Car looks like a jerk for winning and Lightning is a hero for it.
Lightning gets offered the much dreamed of sponsorship but he turns them down for the people who stood by him even when he was nobody. Awww. You guys. But, he makes good on his promise to Mater about a helicopter ride.
Some time later, Ferraris arrive at Luigi’s ( that’s the tire shop in the small town) because Lightning has talked him up so much. And Lightning is also setting up his racing HQ up in town.
During the end credits we get to see the cars watching some classic Disney movies but with Cars, like Toy Car Story, Monster Trucks Inc. and a Bug’s Life with cars. I guess this is a nod to some guy who died. Still adorable.
Okay, now the verdict. In the beginning I was hella bored with this but when Lightning arrives in the small town and starts making connections with all the people I started to like it so much more. He realised what a shallow person he was and that there was more to life than racing. The whole small town thing also reminded me of one of my favourite The Good Luck Girl by Kerry Reichs. I now want to read that book again ASAP. On a whole, this was a highly enjoyable movie and I’m looking forward to part 2 now.