Story

Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) the hottest, most self-centred rookie on the racing circuit, is shocked when he learns that he has tied for first place in the Piston Cup along with two other race cars: The King (Richard Petty) and Chick Kicks (Michael Keaton). He sets out for California to race in the tiebreaker, but takes a wrong turn and winds up stuck in Radiator Springs, a tiny forgotten town situated on the unused Route 66.

There he meets a number of memorable characters: Sally (Bonnie Hunt), a snazzy little Porsche who simultaneously captures his heart and sentences him to community service in the town; Doc (Paul Newman) a Hudson Hornet with a mysterious past; and Mater (Larry The Cable Guy) a rusty, beat-up old tow truck who teaches him the value of friendship.

While completing community service, Lightning McQueen slowly gets to know the cars that make up Radiator Springs and learns the sad history leading up to the town’s abandonment. From his new-found friends he learns many timely lessons from what would appear to be the most unlikely sources - lessons that not only serve him well in life but also seal his fate in the Piston Cup.

Themes

None of concern

Violence

This movie shows some violence that is unrealistic in its depiction of real-life consequences. For example:

  • Chick Hicks side swipes another car during the first race that sends him careening out of control, causing one car to slam into another. Some cars spin out of control, some flip over, some fly towards the screen.
  • Lightning McQueen has a daydream about robots blasting a city while shooting missiles at various objects.
  • a sleeping Lightning McQueen inadvertently rolls off the back of a truck and is nearly hit by cars and trucks as he swerves to avoid causing a crash.
  • As Lightning McQueen races down Route 66 he believes a police car is shooting at him. He speeds out of control through town, tearing up the street and damaging property in the process.
  • Lightning McQueen plays chicken with a train and speeds across the tracks, an instant before he would have been hit.
  • Chick Hicks sideswipes The King during the tie-breaking round of the Piston Cup and badly damages The King, putting him out of the race.

Content that may disturb children 

Under 8

In addition to the violent scenes listed above, there is one scene in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of eight.  Late one night, Lightning McQueen and Mater are chased through a field by an enormous tractor named Frank who appears intent on destroying them. Frank’s crushing blades seem ready to rip Lightning McQueen to shreds when the terrified car crashes through a fence and Frank stops. The intensity of the scene coupled with the darkness and suspenseful music could frighten younger viewers.

Over 8

Children over eight would not be scared or disturbed by this movie. However, parents are cautioned that some susceptible children may be inclined to imitate the risk-taking and reckless behaviours portrayed, without understanding the potential real-life consequences.

Over 13

Children over 13 would not be scared or disturbed by this movie.

Product placement 

None

Sexual references

  • Lightning McQueen attempts to sweet talk Sally and tells her, with a voice full of implication, how he can make her feel things,  things she could have never felt before.
  • One car is slapped on the rear by another and winds up with a bumper sticker that reads, Nice Butte’.

Nudity and sexual activity 

None

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

A hippie van from Radiator Springs attempts to promote his moonshine petrol.

Coarse language 

This movie contains some mild coarse language and name-calling.

Ideas to discuss with your child

While boasting some outstanding computer-animated graphics, the story line of Cars is fairly predictable. You might like to discuss the main message of the movie. This is that sometimes the best things in life get overlooked in the name of advancement, and that life’s true meaning lies in the journey, not at the finish line.