Cars is a 2006 animated film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Distribution and directed by John Lasseter and co-directed by the late Joe Ranft. It was the seventh Disney/Pixar feature film, and the final film by Pixar before it was bought by Disney. The soundtrack of the film features music by Sheryl Crow, Rascal Flatts, James Taylor, Brad Paisley, Chuck Berry and John Mayer. Set in a world populated entirely by anthropomorphic cars and other vehicles, it features the voices of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, Tony Shalhoub, John Ratzenberger, George Carlin, Jenifer Lewis, Cheech Marin, Richard Petty and Michael Keaton as well as cameos by several celebrities such as Jeremy Clarkson.
It was nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Animated Feature, and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film. It was released on DVD on November 7, 2006, on a Disney Movie Club exclusive VHS in 2007 (which is extremely rare) and on Blu-ray Disc on November 6, 2007, making this the last Disney film to be released on VHS. Related merchandise, including scale models of several of the cars, broke records for retail sales of merchandise based on a Disney/Pixar film, with an estimated $5 billion in sales.
A sequel, Cars 2, was released in theaters on June 24, 2011. A third Cars film is currently in production as of 2014.
The movie opens in the final race of the 2006 Piston Cup stock car racing season and championship in the Motor Speedway of the South, where a skilled but arrogant rookie racecar, Lightning McQueen, has overtaken his opponents, past a huge wreck, and has built up a huge lead over the cup's defending (but soon retiring) seven-time champion, Strip "The King" Weathers, and perennial runner-up Chick Hicks. However, because of his refusal to make regular pit stops and get new tires, his rear worn tires burst into flames on the final lap, causing him to skid and ultimately crawl to the finish line, barely managing to tie the King and Chick Hicks in a photo finish. Race officials announce that because the three racers are also tied in overall season points they will compete in one final tiebreaker race to be held at the Los Angeles International Speedway in one week to determine the champion.
While traveling down Interstate 40 to California, McQueen becomes separated from Mack, his transport truck, and while trying to catch up becomes lost on U.S. Route 66, catching the attention of the local Radiator Springs Sheriff in the process. A chase ensues, during which McQueen crashes and gets tangled in wires, damaging part of the town's main street in the process.
McQueen is taken to traffic court, where the town's attorney, Sally Carrera, pleads against McQueen. He is sentenced to repave the road using "Bessie", an asphalt-laying machine. Only interested in leaving and extremely furious, he makes an escape attempt before being hooked up, only to figure out his gas tank was siphoned. McQueen rushes through his first day of paving and the new road surface is so bumpy, unusable, uneven, and poor that he is told he must scrape it off and start over again.
When Doc Hudson offers McQueen a deal -- beat Doc in a race around Willy's Butte and he is free to go -- McQueen eagerly accepts. He leaves Doc in the dust at the starting line, but loses control on the loose dirt turn and crashes into a cactus patch. While the town's tow truck, Mater, hauls McQueen out of the cactus patch in which he landed, Doc effortlessly cruises to the finish line after informing McQueen that he races like he fixes roads. McQueen is compelled to scrape off the botched pavement and start over again.
As the ensuing days pass, McQueen is disturbed by nightmares of Chick Hicks winning the Piston Cup and landing Dinoco. He starts to befriend the town's residents and learn more about the town in the process: how Radiator Springs was once a thriving town until completion of the nearby interstate bypassed the little town, depriving it of its business traffic and visitors (and ironically, depriving those passing visitors of the natural beauty found in the scenery along the old highway); how Sally left behind her rich but unhappy life as an urban lawyer; what "tractor tipping" (a parody of cow tipping) is; and how Doc Hudson was once a famous racecar himself (the "Hudson Hornet") -- and 3-time Piston Cup champion -- until a horrible crash in 1954 ended his racing career.
Doc bitterly refuses to reveal much about his past (despite McQueen witnessing him expertly drifting through the loose dirt of Willy's Butte where McQueen crashed), labeling his old trophies as "a bunch of empty cups".
By the time McQueen finishes repaving Radiator Springs's main road, he has formed a bond with the town and its residents. Rather than immediately leaving for California (as he had initially been eager to do), he spends the day touring the town's businesses, receiving a fresh coat of paint and new tires in the process, and participates in a cruise party that night. But he is suddenly found, then whisked away in his truck, Mack, without even a chance to bid farewell to Radiator Springs. The town's residents are sad to see him leave, and Sally is angry to learn that it was Doc who ultimately informed the media of McQueen's whereabouts.
The final race among McQueen, The King, and Chick opens with what the race's commentators call the "biggest race in history." McQueen is distracted by his memories of Radiator Springs, losing time to The King and Chick Hicks, and begins to fear he will simply lose. To his surprise, Doc Hudson has arrived at the race, with Mater and a few others from Radiator Springs who will serve as his pit crew; Doc, once again wearing his original "Hudson Hornet" racing stripes, takes over as McQueen's crew chief. With Doc's coaching, a record-fast pit stop for new tires, and a few tricks learned from the small town's inhabitants, McQueen is not only able to overtake his opponents, but has built a considerable lead by the final lap.
As McQueen approaches the finish line, Chick sideswipes The King in a desperate attempt to avoid finishing behind him yet again, sending The King into a terrible rollover crash. McQueen, fearing that The King's racing career will end in the same way as did the Hudson Hornet's, comes to a full stop right before the finish line. After Chick gleefully crosses the finish line, McQueen then backtracks to push the veteran racer across the finish line ahead of him, saying that "I think The King should finish his last race". Although Chick Hicks has officially won the Piston Cup, he begins to learn that it's a hollow victory as he is jeered and despised for taking out The King, while McQueen is cheered as a hero for his good sportsmanship. Tex from Dinoco, The King's sponsor company, offers to support McQueen as his new sponsor; but McQueen, having now had a change of heart, respectfully declines, saying that his current sponsor Rust-eze gave him his "big break," and he wanted to continue with them.
Two days after the race, McQueen returns to Radiator Springs, announcing that he will establish his racing headquarters there. This helps to revitalize the town and draw back visitors and tourists, with the once-abandoned Route 66 being reclassified as "Historic Route 66."
- Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen, described by John Lasseter in the LA Times as "A hybrid between a stock car and a more curvaceous Le Mans endurance racer."
- Paul Newman as Doc Hudson, a 1951 Hudson Hornet, later revealed to be the Fabulous Hudson Hornet.
- Bonnie Hunt as Sally Carrera, a 2002 996-series Porsche 911 Carrera.
- Larry the Cable Guy as Mater , a 1951 International Harvester L-170 "boom" truck with elements of a mid-1950's Chevrolet. One-Ton Wrecker Tow Truck.
- Tony Shalhoub as Luigi , a 1959 Fiat 500.
- Cheech Marin as Ramone, a 1959 Chevy Impala Lowrider.
- Michael Wallis as Sheriff, a 1949 Mercury Club Coupe (police package).
- George Carlin as Fillmore, a 1960 VW Bus.
- Paul Dooley as Sarge, a 1941 Willys model jeep, in the style used by the US Military.
- Jenifer Lewis as Flo , a 1957 Motorama show car.
- Guido Quaroni as Guido , a custom forklift, resembling an Isetta at the front.
- Richard Petty as Strip "The King" Weathers. The car's design was based on Richard Petty's 1970 Plymouth Superbird.
- Michael Keaton as Chick Hicks, described by Pixar as a generic 1980's stock car. Strongly resembles a 1978–88 General Motors G-Body such as a Buick Regal or Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
- Katherine Helmond as Lizzie , a 1923 Ford Model T who was married to a steamer named Stanley who was the town founder that also worked as a radiator cap salesman.
- John Ratzenberger as Mack, a 1985 Mack Super-Liner.
- Joe Ranft as Red, a 1960's style fire truck (most closely resembles a mid-1960's closed cab pumper fire truck) and Peterbilt the mean truck that Lightning McQueen mistook for Mack (This was Ranft's last voice role before his death in August 2005)
Cars is the last film worked on by Joe Ranft, who died in a car accident in 2005. The film was the second to be dedicated to his memory, after Corpse Bride. This is also the last (non-documentary) movie for Paul Newman before his retirement in 2007 and his death in 2008. It turned out to be the highest-grossing film of his career.
The original script (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 and the producers agreed that Cars could be the next movie after A Bug's Life and would be released in early 1999, particularly around June 4. However, the movie was eventually scrapped in favor of Toy Story 2. Later, production resumed with major script changes, like giving Mater, Doc, and a few other characters a bigger part.
John Lasseter has said that the idea for Cars was born after he took a cross-country road trip with his wife and five sons in 2000. When he returned to the studio after vacation, he contacted Michael Wallis, a Route 66 historian. Wallis then led eleven Pixar animators in rented white Cadillacs on two different road trips across the route to research the film.
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 show with the same name. In addition, 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).
For the cars themselves, Lasseter also visited the design studios of the Big Three Detroit automakers, particularly J Mays of Ford Motor Company. Lasseter learned how real cars were designed.
Unlike most anthropomorphic cars, the eyes of the cars in this film were placed on the windshield (which resembles the Tonka Talking Trucks, and the characters from Tex Avery's One Cab's Family short and Disney's own Susie the Little Blue Coupe), rather than within the headlights. According to production designer Bob Pauley, "From the very beginning of this project, John Lasseter had it in his mind to have the eyes be in the windshield. For one thing, it separates our characters from the more common approach where you have little cartoon eyes in the headlights. For another, he thought that having the eyes down near the mouth at the front end of the car feels more like a snake. With the eyes set in the windshield, the point of view is more human-like, and made it feel like the whole car could be involved in the animation of the character. This decision was heavily criticized by automotive blog Jalopnik. The characters also use their tires as hands and feet, the exceptions being the various tow truck characters that sometimes use their tow hooks, and the various forklift characters, which use their forks. Some cars are shown shuffling sideways by moving their wheels about on their suspensions.
Computers used in the development of the film were four times faster than those used in The Incredibles and 1,000 times faster than those used in Toy Story. To build the cars, the animators used computer platforms very similar to those used in the design of real-world automobiles.
The track on which the opening race (Motor Speedway of the South) takes place is based on an enlarged version of Bristol Motor Speedway. The venue for the Piston Cup tiebreaker race (the Los Angeles International Speedway) is a conglomeration of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena where the Rose Bowl is located, as well as the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. The Scoring Pylon (showing numbers 43, 86, and 95) is taken from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Radiator Springs and vicinity
The setting for the fictional town of Radiator Springs is situated between Gallup, New Mexico and the Sonoran Desert in California. However, the physical location of Radiator Springs in relation to I-40 is similar to that of Peach Springs, Arizona.
Lasseter told film critic Joe Williams of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that much of the story is based on the recollections of barber Angel Delgadillo in the Route 66 town of Seligman, Arizona, where business withered soon after the opening of I-40.
Willy's Butte resembles the landmark of Mexican Hat, Utah, but also resembles a classic Pontiac hood ornament. There is an "Ornament Valley" (a reference to Monument Valley).
The epilogue shows a map of the area of Arizona around Radiator Springs, including car-related place names such as "Carburetor County" and "Cadillac Range". The latter is a large north-to-south mountain range with many fin-backed jagged peaks, a reference to the famous Cadillac Ranch sculpture in Amarillo, Texas. Where the main road crosses the Cadillac Range is marked "Tailfin Pass 5942" (i.e. feet altitude, = 1.8111 kilometers).
Lizzie's Curio Shop in Radiator Springs resembles the crazy Route 66 jumble of memorabilia and knick-knacks at Hackberry General Store in Hackberry, Arizona and the Sand Hills Curiosity Shop, aka the City Meat Market building in Erick, Oklahoma.
The bridge that McQueen sees Sally driving on resembles several bridges on Route 66, including the Cyrus Avery Route 66 Memorial Bridge in Tulsa, the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, California, and the now-closed bridge over Diablo Canyon at Two Guns, Arizona. Flo's V8 cafe is designed to look like a V8 engine head on, with a circular air filter, tappet covers, spark plugs, pistons and connecting rods as the supports for the shelter. The blinking neon lights on the spark plugs blink in the firing order of a Ford flathead V8.
The railroad grade crossing at which Lightning McQueen outruns a passenger train on his way to Radiator Springs is protected by a pair of antique "upper-quadrant" wigwag crossing signals which accurately depict those once made by the Magnetic Signal Company in both appearance and start-up. Few are left in actual operation in the United States, and many have been replaced with modern crossing gates, red lights and bells.
During the closing credits, the characters are at a drive-in watching clips of the Pixar films "Toy Car Story" (Toy Story), "Monster Trucks, Inc." (Monsters, Inc.) and A Bug's Life, whose characters have been rendered as vehicles in the style of Cars. Mack the red Mack Super-Liner comments that "they're just using the same actor over and over", an in-joke referring to John Ratzenberger, who voiced Mack and characters featured in the clips. There are a few sights of the front page of a newspaper named The Daily Exhaust.
Many characters and places in the movie are directly inspired by real Route 66 places and people. To quote the Pixar crew:
- "As we traveled on Route 66, we were privileged to visit many places and to meet a number of people who live and work alongside 'The Mother Road'. The following is a list of the places and people we wanted to honor by including their names in our 'Special Thanks' credits at the end of the film. Among the many references to Route 66 landmarks and personalities:
- The Cozy Cone Motel's design is based on the two Wigwam Motels along Route 66, in Holbrook, Arizona and Rialto, California. These were once two out of seven built motels, with individual cabins shaped like teepees. Three Wigwam Motels remain; the third (and oldest) is in Cave City, Kentucky, far from Route 66. The recently restored Tee Pee Motel in Wharton, Texas, south of Houston, is of similar design but unrelated. The name "Cozy Cone" was inspired by the Cozy Dog Drive-In of Springfield, Illinois, which lays claim to being birthplace of the corn dog.
- The character "Fillmore", referring to the famous San Francisco music venue The Fillmore, was at one time to be named "Waldmire" after Bob Waldmire, a self-proclaimed hippie artist known to Rt. 66 fans for his detailed pen-and-ink maps and postcards of the route. Though Waldmire's family owns the Cozy Dog Drive-In, Bob, having since become a vegan, preferred not to see his name put on a character that "would become a McDonald's Happy Meal toy."
- Ramone's House of Body Art is based primarily on the U-Drop Inn in Shamrock, Texas. It opened in 1936 as Tower Conoco (from its distinctive Art Deco spire) with the U-Drop Inn Cafe and a retail building attached. Many other establishments built along Route 66 in its heyday had Art Deco elements that might be reflected in the design of Ramone's.
- The yellow billboard for Lizzie's Curio Shop reading "HERE IT IS" with an image of a Model T is based on the Jack Rabbit Trading Post signage in Joseph City, Arizona.
- Sheriff is voiced by Michael Wallis, an American historian and author of Route 66: The Mother Road.
The group of small birds from the 2000 Pixar short film For the Birds made a cameo appearance in Cars. As Mack is en route to California at 17:44 in the film, the group of small birds can briefly be seen (and heard) sitting on their familiar telephone wire. In addition, the Pizza Planet truck from Toy Story also makes a cameo outside of the race track, at the final race in the movie.
- Main article: Cars (soundtrack)
The Cars soundtrack was released by Walt Disney Records on June 6, 2006. Nine tracks on the soundtrack are by popular artists, while the remaining eleven are score cues by Randy Newman. It has two versions of the classic Bobby Troup jazz standard "Route 66" (popularized by Nat King Cole), one by Chuck Berry and a new version recorded specifically for the film's credits performed by John Mayer. Brad Paisley contributed two of the nine tracks to the album, one being "Find Yourself" used for the end credits.
Cars was originally going to be released on November 4, 2005, but on December 7, 2004 the movie's release date was changed to June 9, 2006. Analysts looked at the release date change as a sign from Pixar that they were preparing for the pending end of the Disney distribution contract by either preparing non-Disney materials to present to other studios, or they were buying time to see what happened with Michael Eisner's situation at Disney. When Steve Jobs made the release date announcement, he stated that the reasoning was due to wanting to put all Pixar films on a Summer release schedule, with DVD sales occurring during the holiday shopping season.
Cars opened on June 9, 2006 to positive reviews. William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer praised it as "one of Pixar's most imaginative and thoroughly appealing movies ever" and Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly called it "a work of American art as classic as it is modern."
Some critics expressed that Cars did not hold up to the standard of other Pixar films due to its lengthy story, especially after the acclaim received by The Incredibles, Pixar's previous film. "The movie is great to look at and a lot of fun," wrote critic Roger Ebert, "but somehow lacks the extra push of the other Pixar films." Laura Clifford of website 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.
Rotten Tomatoes gave Cars a fresh 74% (with an average of 6.9), yet no other Pixar film, until the releases of Brave, Cars 2 and Monsters University, has ever scored less than 92% (Brave has a score of 78% and Monsters University with 79%, whereas Cars 2 ranked 39%, the lowest ever attributed to a Pixar film) Despite this, it still received a "Certified Fresh" rating. It earned a 73/100 on Metacritic, making it the third lowest ranked Pixar film on that site.
In its opening weekend, Cars earned $60,119,509 in 3,985 theaters in the United States, ranking number one at the box office. In the United States, the film held onto the No.1 spot for two weeks before being surpassed by Click and then by Superman Returns the following weekend. It went on to gross $461,981,604 worldwide (ranking number 6 in 2006 films) and $244,082,982 in the United States (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 United States, but lost to Ice Age: The Meltdown in worldwide totals.
Cars had a highly successful run during the 2006 awards season. Many film critic associations such as the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review named it the best Animated Feature Film of 2006. Cars also received the title of Best Reviewed Animated Feature of 2006 from Rotten Tomatoes. Randy Newman and James Taylor received a Grammy Award for the song "Our Town," which later went on to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song (an award it lost to "I Need to Wake Up" from An Inconvenient Truth). The film also earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature, but it lost to Happy Feet. Cars was also selected as the Favorite Family Movie at the 33rd People's Choice Awards. Perhaps the most prestigious award that Cars received was the inaugural Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film. Cars also won the highest award for animation in 2006, the Best Animated Feature Annie Award.
The film was also nominated for AFI's 10 Top 10 in the "Animation" genre.
- Nominated: Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song - Randy Newman for "Our Town"
- Nominated: Best Animated Feature Film of the Year - John Lasseter
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films
- Won: Best Animated Film
- Won: Best Animated Feature
- Won: Best Music in an Animated Feature Production - Randy Newman
- Nominated: Best Animated Effects - Keith Klohn
- Nominated: Best Animated Effects - Erdem Hamsi Taylan
- Nominated: Best Character Animation in a Feature Production - Carlos Baena, Bobby Podesta
- Nominated: Best Directing in an Animated Feature Production - John Lasseter
- Nominated: Best Production Design in an Animated Feature Production - William Cone
- Nominated: Best Writing in an Animated Feature Production - Dan Fogelman
Austin Film Critics Association
- Won: Best Animated Film
- Nominated: Best Animated Feature Film - John Lasseter
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards
- Won: Best Animated Feature
- Nominated: Best Soundtrack
Central Ohio Film Critics Association
- Won: COFCA Award Best Animated Film
- Won: Best Animated Film
Golden Trailer Awards
- Nominated: Golden Trailer Best Animation/Family
- Nominated: Best Voice Over
- Won: Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media - Randy Newman for "Our Town"
- Nominated: Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media - Chris Montan, Randy Newman
Hollywood Film Festival
- Won: Hollywood Film Award Animation of the Year - John Lasseter
Kids' Choice Awards
- Nominated: Blimp Award for Favorite Animated Movie
Motion Picture Sound Editors
- Won: Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR for Feature Film Animation - Tom Myers, Michael Silvers, Jonathan Null, Bruno Coon, Teresa Eckton, Shannon Mills, Dee Selby, Steve Slanec, Christopher Barrick, Jana Vance, Dennie Thorpe, Ellen Heuer
- Won: Ten Best Films for Family Audiences
National Board of Review
- Won: Best Animated Feature
Online Film Critics Society Awards
- Nominated: Best Animation
- Won: Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award, Animated Motion Picture - Darla K. Anderson
People's Choice Awards
- Won: Favorite Family Movie
- Nominated: Favorite Movie
- Won: Golden Tomato Award for best reviewed film, animation
- Nominated: Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media
- Nominated: Best Youth DVD
Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards
- Won: Best Animated Feature
Visual Effects Society Awards
- Won: Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Motion Picture - Larry The Cable Guy (actor), Michael Krummhoefener, Tom Sanocki, Nancy Kato for "Mater"
World Soundtrack Awards
- Won: Best Original Song Written for Film - Randy Newman (music/lyrics), James Taylor (performer) for "Our Town"
Home media release
Cars was released on DVD in both wide-screen and full-screen editions on October 25, 2006 in Australia and New Zealand, on November 7, 2006 in the United States and Canada, and on November 27, 2006 in the United Kingdom. It includes DVD-exclusive short film Mater and the Ghostlight and the film's theatrical short One Man Band, as well as Inspiration for Cars, a 16 minute long documentary about Cars featuring John Lasseter, the director. It also had a version of the Pixar short Boundin' as an Easter Egg.
According to the Walt Disney Company, five million copies of the DVD were sold in the first two days it was available. In its first week it sold 6,250,856 units and 15,370,791 units in total ($246,198,859).
Unlike previous Pixar DVD releases, there is no two-disc special edition, and no plans to release one in the future. According to Sara Maher, DVD Production Manager at Pixar, John Lasseter and Pixar were preoccupied with productions like Ratatouille. Additional extras not seen on the DVD have since been released on the official DVD website.
In the US and Canada, there were bonus discs available with the purchase of Cars at Walmart and Target. Walmart featured a Geared-Up Bonus DVD Disc that focused on the music of the film, including the "Life Is A Highway" video, The Making of "Life Is A Highway", Cars: The Making of the Music, and Under The Hood (a special that originally aired on the ABC Family cable channel). Target's bonus was a Rev'd Up DVD Disc that featured material that was mostly already released as part of the official Cars podcast and focused on the inspiration and production of the movie.
Four deleted scenes from the movie were featured in the bonus features menu, "Top Down Truck Stop", "Lost", "Community Service" and "Motorama Girls." Cars was also released on Blu-ray Disc on November 6, 2007, marking it the first Pixar film to be released on Blu-Ray, and was rereleased as a Blu-Ray Disc and DVD combo pack and DVD only edition on April 2011.
Marcus Aurelius Canônico of Folha de S. Paulo described The Little Cars series (Os Carrinhos in Portuguese), a Brazilian computer graphics film series, as a derivative of Cars. Canônico discussed whether lawsuits from Pixar would appear. The Brazilian Ministry of Culture posted Marcus Aurelius Canônico's article on its website.
It has also been noted that the plot of Cars bears a striking resemblance to that of Doc Hollywood, the 1991 romantic comedy which stars Michael J. Fox as a hotshot young doctor, who, after causing a traffic accident in a small town, is sentenced to work at the town hospital, falls in love with a local law student and eventually acquires an appreciation for small town values.
- Main article: Cars 2
A sequel to the film, titled Cars 2, was released on June 24, 2011. It was directed again by John Lasseter, who was inspired for the film while traveling around the world promoting the first film. In the sequel, Lightning McQueen and Mater head to Japan and Europe to compete in the World Grand Prix, but Mater becomes sidetracked with international espionage.
Although this movie was rated G in the United States, it was rated PG in the United Kingdom.
- During "Life is a Highway," the birds from For the Birds can be seen sitting on a telephone wire. The Monsters, Inc. factory can also be seen.
- Dinoco is also the Gas station Buzz Lightyear and Woody get stranded at in Toy Story.
- The snowman from Knick Knack is seen in the snowglobe in Lizzie's Curios Shop.
- A camper van (named Syd VanDerkamper) who is watching the final race, is surrounded by flamingos which is a reference to Knick Knack.
- The Pizza Planet delivery truck, which has shown up in every Pixar film except The Incredibles, appears before the final race, next to the Elvis camper in the left background behind Bob Cutlass. He also appears during the Life is a Highway sequence, at a Dinoco station, thus echoing how the truck appeared in Toy Story, at a Dinoco gas station.
- Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski, Sulley, The Yeti, Flik, and P.T Flea make cameos at the end of this movie.
- During the end credits, car-stylised versions of Toy Story, A Bug's Life and Monsters, Inc. are seen playing at the Radiator Springs Drive-In Theatre. Mack even references the fact that John Ratzenberger, his, Hamm, the Abominable Snowman and P.T. Flea's actor is in every single Pixar movie.
- During the end credits, a small, tearful montage of dedicated to Joe Ranft, who played Wheezy, Heimlech, and Lenny (who died not too long before the movie was finished production) appears. It's even got a song to go with it in respect for the late actor.
- A113 appears on Mater's number plate.
- This is Pixar's final film to use independently produced motion picture (to use the old animation like Toy Story) before Pixar was bought by Disney. Starting from Ratatouille, the Pixar films were made with newer animation and animation used on Disney films.
- The tires of Lightning McQueen are Lightyear tires, which alludes both to the tire manufacturer Goodyear and to Buzz Lightyear.
- Chick Hicks's number (86) is a reference to the year Pixar was founded. Lightning McQueen's number (95) is a reference to the year Toy Story was released in the theaters.
- During the introductory race, there is a white car with the Apple, Inc. logo.
- Cars is the second Pixar film to have a post-credits sequence. The first is Finding Nemo.
- At the tie-breaking 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, and not at Los Angeles.
- Ornament Valley, near Radiator Springs, is shaped like car hoods. The mountain range surrounding Radiator Springs is called Cadillac Range. The mountains are shaped like quarter panels of 50's Cadillacs, in reference to Cadillac Ranch.
- The neon lights on top of the canopy at Flo's V8 Cafe fire in the same pattern as a 1932 Ford V8 Flathead.
- 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.
- Cars was originally going to be called Route 66, which would make a lot of sense because of the location that the movie takes place in. The release title was chosen to avoid confusion with the 1960s TV series of the same name as the working title.
- This is the first Pixar movie that used the word "hell". The second time was Ratatouille.
- Lightning McQueen's initial frustrations with being in Radiator Springs, and then gradually warming up to the town as he learns about it later on, is strongly reminiscent of Dr. Joel Fleishman and his experiences in Cicely, Alaska, from the TV series Northern Exposure.
- One of the cars in the first race is sponsored by 'Leak Less'. A bottle of 'Leak Less' fuel is seen in WALL•E.
- Cars is the seventh Disney·Pixar feature film, and the final film by Pixar before it was bought by Disney. Starting from Ratatouille, the animation looked a little newer.
- The film is also the second Pixar film to have an entirely non-human cast after A Bug's Life.
- The plot of Cars bears a striking resemblance to that of Doc Hollywood.
- Cars received a 74% "Certified Fresh" rating on the movie review website, Rotten Tomatoes. This is the second lowest rating ever given to a Pixar film, after its sequel Cars 2, which got an even lower rating.
- Many famous people, 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 Arnold Schwarzenegger and Elvis also appear, although it is not known if the former is voiced by himself. The latter certainly isn't as he died in 1977, long before Pixar was founded.
- This inspired Vídeo Brinquedo to make The Little Cars in the Great Race, a rip-off of this film.
- In the scene where the race announcers are talking about the popularity of the race, it says that the whole town of Emeryville is closed for the race. Emeryville is the location of the Pixar Studios.
- 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.
- In the teaser trailer, there is a car sponsored by "Jumbo Pretzels". This is presumably the same company that was seen in A Bug's Life under the name "Jackson's Jumbo Pretzels."
- All of the vehicles in the series appear to have their windows completely opaque and blanked out, and no convertibles nor any vehicles without roofs actually appear (the vehicles that do resemble convertibles always have their roofs up), and it's heavily implied that they all may not be hollow.
- This is the last Pixar film to have a fullscreen format for its US home release.
- This is Pixar's longest film to date.
- This was the last Disney movie to be released on VHS, but it was a Disney Movie Club exclusive.
- Before the tie breaker race, A blimp with lightyear on it can be seen flying over the stadium. the blimps's name references the character Buzz Lightyear from the toy story films.
- 'Harry Potter' author J.K. Rowling makes reference in the documentary J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life that the movie Cars is amongst her daughter's favorite films.
Top Down Truck Stop
Pixar had another idea for getting Lightning McQueen separated from Mack. In this deleted scene, Mack stopped at Top Down Truck Stop to get a car wash. After a while, Lightning got impatient, so he went out of his trailer to look for Mack. He met Mia and Tia, who were waitresses at Top Down Truck Stop. The characters that became Rusty Rust-Eze and Dusty Rust-Eze were there too. Meanwhile, Mack finished his car wash, and Lightning was still hanging out with his fans. Mack didn't know Lightning wasn't in the trailer, so he drove away without him. Lightning said that he must get back to Mack, but he couldn't find him. He looked at where his trailer was parked, and the car wash, but Mack wasn't there. Then he saw Mack driving down the Interstate, so he rushed after him. He drove through a red light, and almost crashed. He drove up the exit ramp, going the "wrong way." He had to dodge a bunch of cars on the road, and then the whole road was blocked by trucks, so he drove off the road. A watermelon truck dropped watermelons on him. Finally, Lightning got back on the road, and tried to find Mack.
Lightning had caught up with Mack, but found out it wasn't Mack. The truck drove away, leaving Lightning at the crossing. Lightning didn't know what to do. Then, on his left, he saw the Interstate, so he quickly raced towards it. Next, it became dark, and then a "thud" happened. Lightning found himself going off the road. Then he fell down a hill, and crashed into a bunch of branches. He bumped into a car behind him. He turned around, and the car was a dead car. Lightning freaked out. He looked around, and more dead cars were everywhere. One was even hanging on the tree. Several of them had branches growing through them. Lightning then imagined that some of those dead cars were about to grab them with tree branches. Really, he crashed into a fence. The fence got tangled on him. On the other side of the fence was the engine of another dead car. Lightning got back on the road, and tried to run away from the dead car's engine. Lightning eventually got untangled and ran away. The dead car's engine seemed to have exploded.
Lightning was asked to do a race in Radiator Springs, but he refused, and chose to do standard community service instead. He was sleeping in the impound. While he was sleeping, he had a nightmare. In the nightmare, Doc Hudson, Mater, and Sheriff had put his engine in a steamroller. He tried to escape. He drove through the fence, and Sheriff chased him with his siren. He flipped a switch on the back of Lightning, which turned on a machine that splats asphalt on the road. Then, another machine that sprays the yellow line in the middle turned on. In the whole sequence, asphalt gets splatted on the road, the steamroller wheels flatten it, and the yellow line gets painted. Also, Doc has put Mater's engine into Lightning's body, so now Mater was a racecar. He had fun being a racecar, and Lightning was worried he will wreck his body. Then, Mack came back, and he mistook Mater for Lightning. Mater got into Lightning's trailer, and Mack drove away. Lightning tried to get Doc and Sheriff to get Mater back, but they wanted him to continue fixing the road. Lightning looked down the road, and there was lots of road to fix. Then Lightning really woke up, and found himself in his regular body. He saw the steamroller body on the side. He decided to change his mind and do the race instead.
Radiator Springs was having a karaoke night. Flo was singing a song. Lightning asked Ramone how he and Flo fell in love. Ramone started his story. Some Motorama Girls came to Radiator Springs from Detroit, Michigan. Nobody had seen anyone like them before. They had a chaperone, who broke down, and that's why they were in Radiator Springs. The girls had some time to kill, so they did what they do best. They had lots of fun. They drank fuel, they danced the conga, and Red gave them car washes. Then they came to Ramone's to get paint jobs. Ramone gave them some paint jobs. Finally, on the last car, Ramone dropped his air brush. Flo asked, "What's the matter? You're too good to paint me?" Ramone said, "No, baby. You're too good for me to paint. I can't touch a classic." The next day, the Motorama Girls left, and Flo stayed. And that's the story of how Ramone and Flo fell in love. Lightning asked how Ramone knew she was the one. Ramone replied, "You just know, man. You just know." Meanwhile, Flo finished her song.
This deleted scene later became a storytellers' story titled Showstopper.
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