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"Cars" through the eyes of a Sixteen-Year-Old

Audrey Roeder

Staff Writer 

May 30, 2024

Disney’s 2006 Movie Cars - a movie following the new up-and-coming race car Lightning McQueen.

The first story I wrote for the Lantern this year was about my thoughts on the Disney movie “TinkerBell” as someone who’s seen very few Disney movies. So I thought it was only appropriate to end my year with another Disney movie review.

This time around I decided to watch the beloved movie, “Cars.” Despite this being one of the most famous Disney movies and my younger cousin’s favorite movie, I had yet to watch it. Truthfully I never had an interest in cars so the movie didn’t seem like my cup of tea, but as I was scrolling through Disney+ trying to find a movie I thought I’d go out of my comfort zone and give it a whirl. It was also fitting because the Indy 500 was right around the corner.

Speaking of the Indy 500, the opening scene of cars looked the exact same as the start of the Indy 500. I thought the scene was action-packed, entertaining, and it was a good introduction to the pace of the movie. I thought the scene after the race when Lightning McQueen is talking to Strip “The King” Weathers was heartwarming for the most part. In this scene, the King gives McQueen some advice saying the crew is just as important as the racer. McQueen being self-absorbed doesn’t take his advice but later in the movie he will be forced to.

After the race McQueen and his driver are on their way to the second race. McQueen, being selfish, insists that his driver not take a minute to rest and drive through the night, so his driver obliges; however, this is where everything goes wrong. Mack, the driver, starts to fall asleep while on the road, and during an eventful scene Lightning McQueen and Mack get separated. Then McQueen starts to look everywhere for Mack but since there are a bunch of semi trucks on the highway, he fails to do so. While continuing to look for Mack, McQueen is speeding through the Mojave Desert and passes by a cop. 

After an intense chase scene, McQueen ends up destroying the main road of a little town called Radiator Springs. Due to the damage and the town having close to no money, they basically hold McQueen hostage and force him to fix the road himself.

I thought this plot line was very interesting because it has a great lesson for kids. At the start of the movie Lightning McQueen is arrogant, self-absorbed, and inconsiderate of others, but by the end of the movie, he is the complete opposite. This is thanks to everything he learned and everyone he met in Radiator Springs. 

The morning after McQueen gets lost, he wakes up in Radiator Springs and this is really where the movie takes off. McQueen is introduced to Mater, Sally, Doc, and the rest of the townspeople. Although everyone made a contribution to McQueen’s character growth Mator, Sally, and Doc had the biggest impact on him, in my opinion. 

Mater was Lighting McQueen’s first true friend, even when McQueen didn’t realize it. Despite McQueen’s obvious attempts to not be Mater's friend, Mater persisted. He kept McQueen company as he was fixing the road and talked to him when no one else did. When McQueen is finally able to leave Radiator Springs, I would say he and Mater were true friends.

Sally also had an impact on McQueen but in a different way. When McQueen first gets to Radiator Springs he tries to woo Sally and asks her out. She immediately rejects him, crushing his ego since he’s used to always getting what he wants. Then throughout his time in the town, Sally uses the tough love approach on Mcqueen, which I thought to be one of the biggest impacts on McQueen’s character development. 

My favorite scene in the whole movie was when Sally and McQueen were looking over a ledge at the highway while talking about the town. McQueen asks Sally why she stays in Radiator Springs and she opens up about her background along with the town’s background. This scene felt very realistic and it made Sally and McQueen a lot closer while also opening McQueen’s eyes to the world outside of racing.

Lightning and Sally: Out on a cruise before going to look over the highway.

By the end of McQueen’s time in Radiator Springs, there is definitely some kind of romantic connection between him and Sally, which makes it hard for him to leave.

Lastly, Doc impacted McQueen in many ways. When McQueen first got to the town Doc did not like him at all and was often very cold and dismissive toward him. This upset McQueen because he wasn’t used to people not liking him. Throughout his time in Radiator Springs McQueen and Doc argue and squabble. 

At one point Doc challenged McQueen to a race where if McQueen won he’d be free to leave without finishing the road. Cocky Lightning McQueen accepts the challenge while thinking he’s obviously going to win since he’s a fast race car and Doc is a 1951 Hudson Hornet. Once the race starts McQueen speeds off while Doc doesn’t move. Everyone is very confused because they think McQueen is going to win and be able to leave without finishing the road. But Doc knew that McQueen wasn’t going to win, which he didn’t. To everyone’s surprise except Doc’s, McQueen flew off the side of a cliff while trying to make a sharp turn, causing him to lose the race. This showed McQueen that being cocky doesn’t get you anything, but it also made him curious about Doc and his background. 

A little later in the movie, McQueen discovers Doc’s secret garage filled with memories and mementos from Doc’s life. After doing a bit of snooping, McQueen finds a trophy and a picture of Doc as an old race car. As McQueen finds the trophy and picture Doc comes in and yells at McQueen before McQueen confronts him about his past. Doc then explains that he was a racer before he got in a horrible accident, disappeared for a year, and returned to the competition just for no one to care about him; while also revealing that the situation is why he doesn’t like race cars or McQueen. 

This was a turning point in McQueen and Doc’s relationships as they are now bonded by their experience in racing. After their conversation, Doc starts to help McQueen practice for his big race. When McQueen finally leaves Radiator Springs he is a lot closer with everyone in the town. He even goes around and supports all the townspeople’s small businesses. 

For a while there weren’t many big action scenes that is until a bunch of reporters find Lightning McQueen. A big swarm of fans, reporters, and McQueen’s driver Mack surround McQueen the day before the big race and rush him out of town. This was a bittersweet moment because McQueen wasn’t able to properly say goodbye to all his friends, causing them to feel like they weren’t important to him.

Finally, the movie shifts to the big racing scene. We see an action-packed scene similar to the opening scene where all the cars are racing. Although he’s happy he made it to the race, McQueen is still a little bummed out he didn’t get to say goodbye, that is until he looks into the crowd and sees all his friends there cheering him on. 

At one point during the race, McQueen gets a flat tire and doesn’t know what to do because he doesn’t have a pit crew until his friends step in and become his pit crew. The cars that own the tire service business in the town quickly change his tire, faster than any other pit crew. This shows him that the King’s advice was true, a team is very important. Then McQueen gets back onto the race track and continues his race. 

During the last lap and just before McQueen is about the cross the finish line, one of McQueen’s competitors, Chick Hicks, bumps into The King sending him flying in the air and crashing. McQueen seeing all this abruptly stops inches before the finish line before turning around to go help the King. He pushes the King to the finish line while Chick Hicks wins the race. Although McQueen doesn’t win everyone considers him the winner since Hicks acted unfairly and McQueen did such a good deed. This scene truly shows how much McQueen developed and changed throughout the movie.

Lighting McQueen and The King - McQueen pushing The King to the finish line.

Overall I thought the movie was very good and I give it an 8/10. I loved all the characters, the action aspects of the movie along with the sentimental and learning moments throughout it as well. Although I liked the movie a lot I don’t know if I’d watch the sequels because I think the ending of this movie was great.

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