Chiefs Culture Challenge: Cars

Amazingly enough, this is the first time I’d seen Cars – one of just three Pixar movies I have yet to see. The other two – Cars 2 (duh) and somehow, Ratatouille.  Anyway, let’s shut up and drive…

Why does this movie start with a Sheryl Crow song? And why do I know this is Sheryl Crow?

We are introduced to Lightning McQueen, who appears to be our lead character, right at the beginning, when he says something that sounds like “Kuh-ti-chow.” Is that English?

I do love the detail at the racetrack here – Bob Cutlass and Darrell Cartrip as announcers, and the traffic jam at the girl’s bathroom. Plus, Pixar’s cinematography is spectacular, just unparalleled for animated films. The opening car chase scene is astonishingly filmed.

This looks like another Pixar film shot for adults just as much, if not more so, than for kids. The opening race has NASCAR down to a T, right down to the sounds and sights. And I like the heightened intensity and tension that begins this film with the very first scene. Impressive throughout the first ten or so minutes.

Oh, he’s saying “Ka-chow” – I understand now, after it’s been said 26 times in the first 15 minutes.

I’m happy to hear Rascal Flatts’ “Life is a Highway,” especially because the version I downloaded one day randomly skips after a second.

Jeremy Piven voices his agent? Wow, how difficult was this casting? Is there a poor-acting, randomly lucky, fluffy-haired movie star car voiced by Adrian Grenier?

25 minutes in, this may be the least sympathetic main character in a Pixar film yet – I don’t particularly like anything about Lightning. I know that’s kind of the point, but he just seems like a spoiled brat of a car, and the movie has essentially turned into a gag reel here. However – the Jay Limo/Schwarzenegger car-reporter montage immediately after makes it all worth it.

…and then Larry the Cable Guy shows up to ruin everything.

Great court scene, especially with the late, great Paul Newman presiding over it. And Larry the Cable Guy’s car is more amusing than annoying so far. However, why doesn’t Lightning just tell everyone that he’s in a tie for first and has to go to the race? Couldn’t they assign the community service at a later date? Am I overthinking this?

“I think we have too much surplus” is a strong line.

Halfway through, as Lightning continues to fix the town. Impressions so far – funny, beautifully designed, and well-cast. But I’m a bit disturbed by how much Lightning McQueen merchandise is out there – he is a totally unlikeable character so far.

Tractor tipping – what a brilliant concept. As is Mater driving backwards through the Cozy Cone. Can’t help but laugh at the stupidity of that.

Major bonus points here for the use of Jimi Hendrix’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Even if it’s just animation, there are some pretty breathtaking shots here, such as the waterfall on the drive between Lightning and Sally and the view from the Wheel Well. Pixar’s attention to detail in these worlds is second to none. I’m really starting to enjoy this movie – and question how I hadn’t seen it yet.

James Taylor has a song in this movie? Boy, no wonder Jason loves this. I’ll say this – the loss of the town’s viability due to the interstate combined with this song packs the emotional punch I’ve found in every Pixar movie.

How in the world did Lightning fix the neon? I’m going to ignore this plot hole and move right along enjoying the rest of the movie, I hope.
I just realized Michael Keaton voices Chick. Tremendous casting by Pixar – he’s also spectacular in Toy Story 3.

We’ve made it to the climactic race, after Doc *gasp!* tips off the media. I sincerely wonder if Doc’s lesson about turning right to turn left will lead Lightning to a climactic victory here, and I wonder if Doc and/or some of the other cars will show up at the race to help Lightning. I’m just making this prediction out loud right now.

…hey, Doc and the other cars showed up to be his pit crew! Shocking! And the scriptwriters just couldn’t resist a Larry the Cable Guy “Git R Done,” could they?

Well, I didn’t see that ending coming in its entirety, but you figured there would be something different than a mere win.  Which is exactly what the Dinoco guy says at the end.

Satisfying ending, funny characters, beautifully designed film.  Really dug this film, except I could do without the use of “Ka-Chow!” every twenty seconds.  The only thing that could ruin my experience would be an ending John Mayer song…


Anyway, there’s a new CBS show debuting tonight with Rob Schneider and Cheech Marin in it. This sounds like the worst concept ever, so naturally it’s all yours to review, JB. Your assignment is ¡Rob! – and yes, there are two exclamation points in that.

Don’t forget to send us your ideas at or I imagine we’ll move away from the TV and movies soon, so feel free to go for books, music or food soon among other things.

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