Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Cars: Pixar takes a ride through the Red States

A while back I had the idea to start a media-centric blog called the Red State Entertainment Blog. This would have been my critique of pop culture, specifically movies and television. But the gimmick of a Red State Entertainment Blog is that the reviews and critiques come from the standpoint of a social conservative.

That being said, is there anything more Red State than NASCAR? I love to turn on the Sunday race during an election year, wait for the camera to pan to the grandstands and say, “Look at all those Republicans!”

Which brings us to today’s movie review, Pixar Animation Studio’s “Cars.”

“Cars” is the story set in a world where all the living beings are not animals and people, but vehicles of some sort. From racecars filling the role of professional athletes, to Volkswagen Beetles with wings as flies gathering around a flickering light bulb; this is a world of automotive beings.

Starring in this alternative universe is Lightening McQueen (Owen Wilson), the hottest rookie racecar on the Piston Cup racing circuit. He’s young, hotheaded and cocky, to the point he alienates his entire pit crew and has no friends. Why? Because the “people” (remember this is a world of cars) in his life aren’t as important as him winning the Piston Cup.

Through a series of unlikely events on his way to Los Angeles he finds himself in a backwater town off of the now defunct route 66. In a scene reminiscent of Kevin Bacon in Footloose, the local judge takes an immediate disliking to the flashy young sports car who has brought fast driving to his sleepy little town.

What Lightening learns from his sentence in the one-light town, is that there’s more to life than fame, fortune and success. For the fist time in his life, he actually makes friends.

It is in this that the movie becomes truly red-state. Lightening, through his new-found friends, Sally (Bonnie Hunt), Matter (Larry the Cable Guy), and new mentor Doc (Paul Newman); he finds that it’s the people in your life who care about you that trump all the awards, money, fame and success you could ever build.

It took a visit to the reddest town in a red state to turn around his blue state mentality.

I have often related the term “Red State” not as a political sub-group, but as a lifestyle and values state of mind. So, despite my analogies here, this movie is highly non-political. It is in actuality a kids movie and holds dozens of little NASCAR references and cameos.

Overall Pixar does it again. Not only with another step forward in their animation technology, but with some of the most original writing in tensile-town. The voices are perfectly cast and even non racing fans like me get drawn into the NASCAR excitement. Kids may get a little bored as Lightening is learning his lesson, but thanks to Larry the Cable Guy popping in with a silly comment at exactly the right moment, you’re never far from a laugh.

In the end two of the best reasons to see Cars include not having to look at Owen Wilson’s cooked nose for 2 hours and not having to look at Larry the Cable guy at all!


Reel Fanatic said...

Funny stuff ... hadn't thought about the politics of Pixar movies before, but will now when I finally get to see this one today

Anonymous said...

Good post. Don't forget The Incredibles is arguably a conservative film, too. More so than Cars, which I have seen and did like, but didn't think was particularly ideological (if anything, possibly anti-development left).

But punch "Incredibles" and "conservative" into Google and you'll see what I mean.

azoric said...

WWB, yes I found the "virtues of individualism" to be a very conservative message to be a red-state value, however I thought that point was a first act plot device and not so much a theme of the whole movie.

Good point though, I need to dig up my Incredibles review and repost it.