Saturday, June 10, 2006

Now Playing: Cars

Tammy and I took Sarah Grace to see Pixar's new release, Cars, on Saturday. It's a winner by far. When I first saw the previews, I thought it would be a terrible movie. I didn't get too much about the concept, but come on talking cars? That hasn't been believable since the old Speed Buggy cartoons!

Even so, I was pleasantly surprised by Cars. They had me early on by using racing star Richard Petty as the voice of "The King", the retiring champion racecar (remember, I used to live in NASCAR country, so all this stuff works for me) -- and then I heard the voices of the Magliozzi brothers (famous for their NPR radio show, Car Talk) as the main character's annoying sponsors. BANG right there I knew this movie was on to something -- NASCAR and NPR references in the same film.

The story is an old one: hotshot young up and comer gets stranded in a podunk small town where he rediscovers whats important. Pixar dresses up this familiar old line with lovable characters. The star, a racecar named Lightning McQueen, learns a nice lesson that he can't go it alone -- he needs a team of people in order to truly be a success. It's a lovely little visual parable of I Corinthians 12.

There's also a nice homage to the old pre-interstate days of travel -- those golden years in the 40's and 50's and 60's when travel was an adventure and every small town in america a potential treasure waiting to be discovered. The interstates made everything faster, but it also sucked the life out of hundreds of small towns all across the nation. We are losing the ability to slow down and enjoy what God has plopped right in front of us as we race to the bigger and better. As the film developed this theme, I felt touched -- I know dozens of those little towns that are wasting away because the interstate passed them by.

So, thumbs up from the Smith family.

And here's a spoiler for the best line in the whole movie: The redneck pickup truck, Mater (Tow-mater -- get it, he's a tow truck taking his name from a tow-mater -- I didn't think it was that funny either) is in the midst of having some real fun and he shouts out "I'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park!"