U.S. Animation

Cars / Mater's Tall Tales

Distributed by: Disney ∑ Pixar

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            When Cars, the animated film from Disney Pixar, hit the theaters, I really had no interest in seeing it.  For some reason, an animated film about a flashy race car just didnít grab me and make me want to rush to the theaters.  When I told my co-worker this, he gaped at me incredulously and asked if I was crazy.  He had taken his kids to see the film and he had loved it.  His favorite character was the tow truck named Mater.  The way he went on and on about this film, I began to believe he loved it even more than his kids did.  He told me he couldnít wait for the sequel and I could hardly blame him, having seen the promos for it at my viewing of Hop.  I decided to take his advice and borrow the film from him.  He was so excited that I was borrowing Cars from him that he also through in Materís Tall Tales for good measure.  As he said, ďThis way youíll be all caught up for Cars 2!Ē

            Cars starts off with the Piston Cup Championship.  Rookie Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) has a chance to win it all, but thanks to his arrogant belief that he doesnít need a Pit Boss, he blows out his tires and barely ties for first place with the reigning champion Strip ďThe KingĒ Weathers (Richard Petty) and Chick Hicks (Michael Keaton).  The deciding tie breaking race is scheduled to take place one week later at the Los Angeles International Speedway

            Unfortunately, while en route to the racetrack, Lightning McQueen becomes separated from his ride, Mack (John Ratzenberger).  He ends up destroying Route 66 as it passes through Radiator Springs, a run down town that hasnít seen a great deal of business since the freeway was built.  The town judge, Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), wants this race car out of his town right away, but local lawyer Sally Carrera (Bonnie Hunt) talks him into requiring Lightning McQueen repair the road he destroyed before he leaves.

            At first, McQueen wants nothing better than to get out of town and get to L.A., but after a while, he starts to get to know the people in the town and they become his friends (a category he was lacking in before arriving at Radiator Springs).  Before leaving the town, he has become best friends with tow hitch Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), received the best tires on the market from Luigi (Tony Shalhoub) and Guido (Guido Quaroni) at their tire shop, sampled the organic fuel sold by Fillmore (George Carlin), received a new paint job from Ramone (Cheech Marin) and fallen in love with Sally.

            As he heads off for the Los Angeles International Speedway, Lightning McQueen canít help but think back to the beauty and friendship he found in Radiator Springs.  Thankfully, his friends werenít about to let him leave so easily, arriving at the racetrack as his Pit Crew.  With Doc, otherwise known as Piston Cup Champion the Fabulous Hudson Hornet, as his Pit Boss, how could Lightning McQueen lose?!

            I donít know why I never went to see this film in the theaters!  I absolutely loved it.  I enjoyed the fact that every character in the film, from the greatest to the smallest (even the flies) were some sort of car.  Each vehicle in the film was perfectly represented through the characterís personality.  Lightning McQueen is a race car and starts off as brash and cocky as he looks.  Materís a battered old tow truck and has the personality of a Redneck with buck teeth and a drawl to boot.  Slow moving tractors are cows in this car world, ripe for the tipping for Mater.  The local lawyer who used to be a high priced attorney living life in the fast lane is a sporty Porsche

            I also thoroughly understand where my friend was coming from and why he loves this movie so much.  My co-worker still lives in the town he was born and raised in.  He has seen the changes it has undergone over the decades and can relate to how the residents of Radiator Springs feel about their town.  I believe many an adult can sympathize with the Radiator Springs cars and I believe that is why the James Taylor song, Our Town, is the most popular song from the Cars Soundtrack.

            I can also understand why Mater is my co-workerís favorite character.  Larry the Cable Guyís voice in addition to the silly, beat-up look of the tow truck and the simple and innocent way he deals with others makes Mater my favorite as well.  So, I was more than happy to watch Materís Tall Tales, a set of nine cartoon shorts featuring Mater as he discusses his stint as a matador, a monster truck wrestler, a heavy metal singer and more.  Of course, Lightning McQueen always finds his way into the tall tale and when he calls Mater on it, something always happens to make you wonder whether or not there wasnít some truth to the tale.

            I must admit, my co-worker was right, Cars is a terrific film, perhaps more for the adults than for kids with all of the inside jokes and the main plot of the story.  I now am hooked and canít wait to see the sequel scheduled to be released in June 2011.


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