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Cars (2006)

Life is a journey. Enjoy the trip

One of the most successful animated movies ever made, “Cars” starts with the plotline of movies like Doc Hollywood: Big city hotshot, always in too big a hurry to slow down and enjoy life, crashes in a small town and is forced to stay awhile. The CGI animated movie begins with a fairly short racing scene (narrated by real-life sportscaster Bob Costas) which ends in a 3-way tie between racing legend The King (voice of a certain real-life racing legend), Lightning McQueen (v.o. Owen Wilson), and the villainous Chic (sponsored by Hostile Takeover Bank). The run-off race is on the west coast, so Lighting orders his big rig truck (v.o. John Ratzenberger, who’s been in every animated movie ever made by Pixar—-spoofed during the end credits at a drive-in movie theater) to drive there nonstop.

While Lightning sleeps back in the semi-trailer, some punks play Kenny G to put the truck to sleep too (I hope Kenny G has a sense of humor). In the ensuing near-crash, Lighting falls out and, disoriented, leaves the Interstate and winds up in the dusty forgotten little town of Radiator Springs on old Route 66. Without real headlights (they’re just painted on, for day-only racing), he crashes around, making a mess of things and ripping up Main Street’s pavement. He wakes up in automobile jail (the impound yard, wearing a boot), and soon finds himself on trial for all the damage. The tired old judge, Doc Hudson (v.o. Paul Newman), is ready to let him go when a hotshot big-city lawyer (v.o. Bonnie Hunt) shows up and demands that Lighting do community service—-fix the main street he destroyed. Lightning then finds himself chained to an asphalt machine (Newman himself previously starred in Cool Hand Luke as a chain-gang convict).

He slowly comes to respect and even admire the small-town folk, and even discovers something Doc has kept secret from everyone—he was himself a champion racecar for three years in a row in the early 1950s as the Hudson Hornet. Then a devastating crash ended his career and he’s been bitter about it ever since. Now it’s Lightning’s turn to draw out Doc and restore his confidence. The supporting cast includes George Carlin as Fillmore the hippie microbus stuck in the 60s who lives next door to a spit & polish army jeep (v.o. Paul Dooley. No sooner does Sarge begin playing Reveille each morning than Fillmore counters with the Jimi Hendrix electric guitar Woodstock version of the National Anthem, “It’s a classic, Man”). Tony Shalhoub is the voice of an Italian tire shop owner (one of the quirky little Italian cars), obsessively sprucing up the shop in case customers come in again someday.

Michael Wallis, the author of a book on Route 66 (he’s the voice of the town Sheriff) took the animators and writers of Cars on a road trip on Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, California, to get ideas for the film (all the buildings and scenery are based on actual images), and along the way they met an old Native American who told them that the Route 66 town he lived in had died when the nearby Interstate highway was built, slicing across the landscape to save a few minutes. This casual conversation became an important part of the plot. All the cars are based on an actual make & model except two—Lightning is based on features from various racecars (designed in clay by the animators), and Flo is based on a couple of different Detroit concept cars that never went into production. In addition, the animators found an old rusty, dusty bumper in the corner of a body shop near Pixar and it became the model for Mator the tow truck’s front bumper. Mator has a rather extensive and funny scene (it has to do with cow-tipping and an angry bull), voiced by Larry the Cable Guy. A word of warning: Larry’s standup comedy on HBO and Comedy Central uses words you wouldn’t want your little kids repeating at school, so don’t expect to hear “Mator” when you see Larry the Cable Guy listed elsewhere in TV GUIDE. If that doesn’t put you off, check out his often funny (and decidedly more adult) humor on the Blue Comedy Tour TV-series and specials.

Michael Keaton usually plays good guys (like the voice of the snowman in Jack Frost recently), but he’s the voice of the villain Chic this time. The grill of his car is clearly an homage to the villain of Disney’s earlier (live-action) hit The Love Bug (1969, starring David Tomlinson as the villainous racecar driver with a Charlie Chaplin moustache). Cheech Marin is the voice of a low-rider (which predictably drew fire from self-proclaimed defenders of Hispanic stereotyping). He owns a body shop and paints himself a different color each day in the movie. If Shalhoub’s attitude in Cars reminds you of the brusque characters played by Fritz Feld, perhaps it’s because Feld was in the 4th Love Bug movie, Herbie Goes Bananas (1980). Katherine Helmond (of Monty Python’s 1984 movie Brazil) plays the dimwitted widow of the town’s founder. On Disney/Pixar’s “Cars” website, Paul Newman says he played his character as “smart, Southern and tired.” Tom Magliozzi and Ray Magliozzi (Click & Clack of NPR's Car Talk) have a cameo as spokesmen for Lighting's sponsor Rusteze. Original soundtrack music for the movie is written and conducted by Randy Newman (he really does like short people). This is his 4th film soundtrack for Pixar

Fun facts:
(Real Gone)
Steve McQueen (Towering Inferno) was a respected professional racecar driver of both cars and motorcycles, and considered leaving acting to race full time. He owned over 100 motorcycles and cars including one identical to the winner of Le Manes.

The real-life Hornet made by Hudson swept NASCAR for 3 years in a row in the early 1950s. By the end of the 50s, Hudson merged with Nash and Jeep to become the American Motor Company. In the early 1970s they made a small car with the Hornet name that lasted a few more years. AMC’s last major new vehicle was the “Hummer,” based on the “Humvee” they created for the military. A Hummer with an Austrian accent makes a cameo in the movie as the Governor of California.

"Cars" is available directly from Disney: Find the Most Popular Disney DVDs at Disney Movie Club. Join Now!

Doc Hudson is the Hudson Hornet
If anyone asks, I was smashin' mailboxes with Lightning McQueen

What would Cars sound like
in French or Spanish?

Say what you will about Mator, he's still better than Jar-Jar Binks

Review of Cars 2: The Game...Chick Hicks is back and up to new tricks.

"Cars" from Pixar

Click here for additional Cars movie trailers
from the creators of Monsters, Inc

Trivia courtesy Internet Movie Database

* This movie was originally titled "Route 66"
The name was changed to "Cars" so as not to imply a connection with the TV 1960 series Route 66

* The music that opens the teaser trailer of this movie is the main theme to A Bug's Life (1998).

* The film's animators drew up over 43,000 sketches for designs of the cars.
* Mia and Tia are modeled after the first-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata.

* The rock formations in the distance beyond Radiator Springs resemble Cadillac Ranch, and is actually named Cadillac Range on the maps shown during montages. Cadillac Ranch is an art exhibit consisting of 10 Cadillacs half-buried in a line outside Amarillo, Texas, near where Route 66 once ran. Additionally, when seen from "above", the hills around Radiator Springs resemble the hoods and fenders (complete with ornaments) of classic cars.

* Instead of making the cars' headlights the eyes, as is done on most cartoons, the Pixar artists decided to put the eyes up on the windshield, because that made the characters more expressive. This idea was largely influenced by the Disney cartoon Susie the Little Blue Coupe (1952), one of director John Lasseter's favorite cartoons.

* Flo isn't based on any single car but shares elements of the 1951 Buick LeSabre, the 1951 Buick XP-300, and the 1957 Chrysler Dart--all actual show cars.

* One of the bumper stickers on Fillmore reads 'Save 2D Animation.'

* The neon lights on Flo's V8 Cafe in the movie flash in the proper firing order for a Ford flathead V8.

* The number on the train that Lightning out runs is A113, a reference to California Institute of the Arts, where many Pixar animators studied.

* Lightning McQueen's original number was to be 57, director John Lasseter's birth year. It was later changed to 95 to represent the year that Toy Story (1995) was released. The car in the final film who has the number 57 (who wins the race in the first teaser) vaguely resembles McQueen, and is probably an earlier production design for that character.

* The tires of Lightning McQueen are Buzzard models manufactured by Lightyear, a reference both to the real Goodyear "Eagle" tires used in NASCAR and character Buzz Lightyear from John Lasseter's previous 'Toy Story' films.

* Porsche's profession as an attorney is a reference to Portia, a nickname for female lawyers, named after the character in Shakespeare's "Merchant Of Venice"

* Guido is an Italian name. But it is also the Italian for "I drive"

* The character Lightning McQueen is a reference to Glenn McQueen, a Pixar animator who died in 2002.

* Mater's license plate reads "A113", yet another reference to the animation room at California Institute of the Arts, where many Pixar animators studied. Also, the lights on the train that almost hit Lightning say "A113" (See trivia for Toy Story, 1995)

* If you look closely at one of the racing cars, it's white, has the Apple logo, and the number is 84. 1984 was the year Apple released the Macintosh, the computer that revolutionized Apple as a company. Pixar was previously owned by Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple.

* The cars' designs were inspired by similar car sculptures displayed throughout the central business district of the City of Detroit.

* Designs of the cars:
Ramone is a 1959 Chevrolet Impala or Bel Air two door hardtop, a very popular car with the low riders [Disney/Pixar's "Cars" website says 1959 Chevrolet Impala with hydraulics & chrome undercarriage].
Luigi is a 1959 Fiat 500.
Guido is an ISO Isetta, a "bubble car" originally designed and built in Italy by ISO; the design was later licensed to BMW and to manufacturers in France and Brazil.
Mater is a 1955-1957 Chevrolet or GMC truck.
Sally is a 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera (Type 996), 0-60 in less than 5 seconds.
Sheriff: 1949 Mercury Police Cruiser
Sarge is a 1942 Willys Jeep
Doc is a 1951 Hudson Hornet

* The original idea was about an electric car living in a gas-guzzling world.

* Among the cities closed for race day is the city of Emeryville, California, the home of Pixar.

* The morning show crew from (a local favorite radio station) lend their voices to a number of ancillary characters in the film (like Kori Turbowitz, Not Chuck, Traffic Copter and Reporter #9).

* 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 motels, with individual cabins shaped like tepees. Another motel from the chain survives in Cave City, KY. The name "Cozy Cone" was inspired by the Cozy Dog Drive-In of Springfield, IL, which lays claim to being birthplace of the corn dog.

* The character "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 in Springfield, IL, Bob, now a vegan, says he preferred not have his name put on a character that would become a Happy Meal toy.

* Since the movie has lines in Italian, the release in Italy (where foreign movies are mostly dubbed) was handled with a twist. Luigi was dubbed with a slight Modena accent (the home town of Ferrari) and Guido was dubbed with a thick Modenese dialect. The Ferrari in the end of the movie has been dubbed by Michael Schumacher as in the original version (but of course in Italian, with some German accent). A nice coincidence: 'Marco della Noce', who dubs Luigi, is an Italian comedian whose trademark act, several years before the release of "Cars", was indeed a pretend of the head mechanic of Ferrari; actually in the dubbing he managed to slip in some half lines from his routine.

* The Italian name for "tire" is "gomma" (rubber), and there are actually a widespread number of tire shops in Italy called "Casa della gomma" (House of the tire).

* The other song in the teaser trailer is Green Day's "Westbound Sign" from their 1995 album "Insomniac".

* This was Joe Ranft's final film.

* The fictional town of Radiator Springs was inspired by several real life locations along historic Route 66. In 2001, a creative team from Pixar, including directors John Lasseter and Joe Ranft, toured parts of Route 66 in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Their guide along the way was author and Route 66 historian Michael Wallis. Wallis went on to provide the voice of the Sheriff car in the film. His website:

* Fillmore, the 1960 VW Microbus voiced by George Carlin, has license plate '51237'. This is Carlin's birth date; May 12, 1937. It's entirely coincidental, but 51237 is also the ZIP code for George, Iowa.

* When Lighting McQueen finally gets pulled over by the sheriff after destroying the road, the Sheriff says, "You're in a heap o' trouble, boy." This is a direct reference to Dodge commercials featuring Joe Higgins as a sheriff which aired in the early 70's.

* When the Sheriff backfires and Lightning thinks he's being shot at, he says "Serpentine, serpentine." This is a reference to a scene from "The In-Laws" (1979) where Vincent (Peter Falk) instructs Sheldon (Alan Arkin) to run serpentine style to avoid being hit by bullets.

* Dinoco, the big sponsor Lightning McQueen is chasing after in Cars, is also the gas station Buzz Lightyear and Woody are stranded at in Toy Story.

* When Doc challenges McQueen for a race, some of the clouds/contrails above the dirt race track are shaped as tire prints.

* The hill at Radiator Springs (with the white letters RS for Radiator Springs) resembles the top of a radiator with a cap.

* At the beginning, after the first race, when Mack and McQueen travel to California, and they pass some power poles you hear and see some birds (just for the blink of an eye) which are from Pixars fun short movie "For the birds". Further film gimmicks are the films shown in the drive-in cinema at the end of the movie: they all are "car-adaptions" of earlier Pixar Productions.

* The red-and-white metal-flake paint job that Ramon does for McQueen duplicates that of the Corvette used in the television series "Route 66"

* The voice of Lightning McQueen's agent Harv, is provided by Jeremy Piven who also plays Vincent Chase's agent in the TV-series "Entourage". The UK release used the outspoken Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson as the voice of Harv.

* The character "Mack", Lightning McQueen's transport driver, is based on a 1985 Mack Super-Liner semi-truck.

* On the DVD, in the Bonus Features section, the background graphics are postcards from route 66. The icon to return to the main menu uses the Canada Post logo.

* Radiator Spring's surrounding rock formations, shaped as recognizable hood ornaments from over the years, are labeled "Ornament Valley" on the road map. This is a reference to "Monument Valley", an expanse of grand, natural rock formations spanning Arizona and Utah, though not actually near Route 66.

* The King is a 1970 Plymouth Superbird, one of Richard Petty's most famous rides. The Superbird was created to get him back into a Plymouth for the 1970 racing season and Petty himself provides the voice. The King's paint scheme is exactly as King Richard's was in the 1970 NASCAR season.

* The character of Fillmore, voiced by George Carlin, is a version of Al Sleet, the hippie-dippy weatherman, a popular skit that Carlin performed in the 60's and 70's.

* Even with a farm of computers that ran four times faster than the ones on The Incredibles (2004) each frame of Cars (2006) took an average of 17 processor hours to render, and crashed while animating the huge waterfall they drive past.

* The Rust-eze sponsors each send Lightning off with a warning: "Don't drive like my brother!" This is the sign-off phrase for the popular NPR radio show "Car Talk", hosted by Tom Magliozzi and Ray Magliozzi, who also voice the sponsors.

* Michael Schumacher is one of the speakers in the German version, as well as Giancarlo Fisichella in the Italian and Fernando Alonso in the Spanish version.

* In the Danish edition "The King" is renamed "Tom Kilerem" and is voiced by 7-time Le Mans champion Tom Kristensen.

* The code title for this film, used during production, was "Surgery".

* Wait until the end of the credits to see whatever happened to the two tourists that drove into Radiator Springs looking for the highway.

* John Lasseter came out with the premise of the story after his soul-searching trip in 2000 along Route 66.

* The design of "Los Angeles International Speedway" is based on 3 venues located in southern California. The outer facade is similar to the LA Memorial Coliseum, the speedway's seating bowl and interior architecture is much like the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, and the track layout is reminiscent of California Speedway in Fontana.

* The rotating sign on Flo's V8 Cafe briefly forms a "hidden Mickey" as the sign rotates.

* When Sarge and Fillmore are talking during their introduction, Fillmore waxes about the blinking pattern of a street light. Sarge notes "The sixties weren't good to you." This is the exact same line that George Carlin (who voices Fillmore) gave to Bette Midler in the movie Outrageous Fortune (1987).

Welcome to Dinoco's Piston Cup 400 * SPOILER: The King's crash at the end of the movie is a virtual frame-by-frame re-creation of Richard Petty's crash in the 1988 Daytona 500.
* SPOILER: Chick Hick's car number is 86. 86 is a slang for 'thrown out'. He got thrown out of the team at the end of the film.

* The credits contain a dedication and retrospective of characters voiced by Joe Ranft, a Pixar writer who died in 2005.
* During credits, Mack (John Ratzenberger) watches car-versions of earlier Pixar hits, commenting on the fine actor in each scene before realizing it's the same actor (John Ratzenberger) playing different characters in each movie. There is an additional scene at end of credits, as with last year's Chronicles Of Narnia.

* The "lost" cars at the end of the movie are by Richard Kind (Spin City) and Edie McClurg

* You may think that Leaning Tower of Tires was inspired by the leaning Tower of Pisa, but what the guys on the Route 66 tour actually saw was the leaning water tower of Groom, Texas (and so can you, unless it's fallen over by now)

* Richard Petty (The King) previously appeared as himself in a regular racecar movie. The King's wife in "Cars" is voiced by Petty's real wife, Lynda. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the voice of Junior.

* Additional Cars notes (32 page PDF file) from Disney/Pixar's official Cars website, or Plain text version

* Disney has announced that "Cars 2" will come out in 2012 directed by Brad Lewis (producer of "Ratatouille"), followed by the animated "King of the Elves" (2012), an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick short story, directed by Aaron Blaise and Robert Walker ("Brother Bear"), two years after Pixar's "Toy Story 3-D" (2010) with Tom Hanks and Tim Allen reprising their voice roles
"All the world's a racetrack as racing superstar Lightning McQueen zooms back into action, with his best friend Mater in tow, to take on the globe's fastest and finest in this thrilling high-octane new installment of the "Cars" saga. Mater and McQueen will need their passports as they find themselves in a new world of intrigue, thrills and fast-paced comedic escapades around the globe."

Davy Jones wants your soul in a Dead Man's Chest welcome to Radiator Springs Mater's friend Vern Official movie trailer and video clips page

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