Sunday Family Movie Nights: Cars Movie Review

Sunday Family Movie Nights

I really like family traditions. Things you look forward to with anticipation, creating fun memories as a family. Growing up, one of our family traditions was my Dad and I making a big pot of chicken noodle soup every Sunday night after church. We used to mix up a couple of packages of Ramen noodles, some egg noodles, and Mrs. Grasses soup mix (do they even make that any more? I remember it used to have a capsule of liquid bullion that I loved to watch dissolve in the pot). It wasn’t healthy, but it was our special tradition, and to this day, I always think of my dad every time I open a bag of egg noodles or Ramen soup.

Last year, we started a new family tradition in our family, Sunday Family Movie Night. It started off just being a countdown to Christmas. We started the Sunday after Thanksgiving, watching a different Christmas movie every night until Christmas. But we ended up enjoying the tradition so much that we decided to keep it going. So now we watch a family movie every Sunday night with Mr. 5 after Mr. 2 has gone to bed (he goes to bed at 7, while Mr. 5 stays up until 8:30, just enough time for most 90 minute family movies!). We take turns choosing the movie, and we often pick movies that are based on children’s books that we’ve read. Periodically, in our Family Weekend Spotlight, I’ll be sharing some of the movies we’ve watched and giving you our family review!

Tonight’s movie was my husband’s pick. It is one we’ve seen MANY times, but it is still a favorite: Cars.

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You can read the Dove review by going here and searching for Cars. I really like the Dove reviews because they tell you exactly what language is in the movie, as well as violence, drug use, and more. If you haven’t used it before, it’s a great resource. Another great source for movie reviews is Focus on the Family’s Plugged In. You can read their review of Cars here.

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We have watched Cars many times. The first time my husband and I watched the first Cars movie was actually before the kids were born. We took a roadtrip down old Route 66 from Chicago to St. Louis. The movie had just come out and we actually watched it at a Drive-In movie theater just off of Rt. 66 in Springfield. How cool is that?!

Cars is a very sweet movie about a self-absorbed race car named Lightning McQueen who learns learns that there’s more to life than just winning. After making a mess in the town of Radiator Springs, McQueen is forced to slow down and put things right, and along the way he makes some new friends and ends up helping the town. One of my favorite lines in the movie is after Mater and McQueen get back from “Tractor-tipping”. Mater tells McQueen “I knowed I made a good choice.” “In what?” McQueen asks. “In my best friend…”

Some of the positive themes in the movie include the importance of friendship, loyalty, caring about others rather than just yourself, being true to your word, and taking time to enjoy life rather than just rushing through. One of the things I like about Pixar’s movies is that they tend to be brighter and more positive than some of Disney’s movies, which can be, at times, very dark and even scary (think about the witch in Sleeping Beauty or Snow White, Jafar the sorcerer in Aladdin, or Scar and his band of hyenas in the Lion King). That’s not to say that those Disney movies don’t have their place, but at 5 and 2, my kids still get scared at those type of evil characters, and I’m ok with waiting until they are older to introduce those movies. The only “bad guy” in Cars is a race car named Chick Hicks, who is obsessed with winning at all costs and who makes snide or sarcastic remarks to the other cars. But his character is actually a good parallel to McQueen who is, himself, obsessed with winning at the beginning of the film. Chick and Lightening show the outcomes of these two paths. While Chick may win the race, it is McQueen who is shown to be the real winner because of his selflessness and sportsmanship. As my boys begin to get to the age where they enter school, want to play sports and be on a team, or participate in other activities, this movie is a good reminder that winning and being the best isn’t always the most important thing.

So what do the kids think? My boys love this movie because, well, it has race cars. Talking race cars. What little boy doesn’t love that?! The animation is really amazing, and I love how they made the windshields of the cars as the eyes, rather than the more traditional choice of the headlights. There are other cute elements in the film that parents will pick up on and enjoy, such as the scenery that is all in the shape of cars, or the names of some of the characters being linked to their real-life car names (Mack being a Mack truck, Mia and Tia are Miatas, etc.). Even the bugs that fly around the lights at night are actually VW Beetles!

As I watch this movie for the millionth time, I think of how much I can have in common with Lightning sometimes. I too can be very self-focused and so concerned with all the things I have to do that I don’t stop to enjoy those everyday moments. I guess that’s what I’m trying to do here on this blog – helping myself and my readers to take time to be still, think about what matters, and enjoy those everyday moments.

The only criticism I have about the film would be the use of the term “hillbilly h–l” and “holy” (as in “holy porshe”) a couple of times. Also, in reading the Dove review, it reminded readers about the dangers of “playing chicken” with a train (which happens in the movie as Lightning races to get across the tracks just as a train is approaching), which is worth mentioning to little ones, especially if (like me) you live near railroad tracks.

So all in all, we really enjoyed our family movie night, and I hope you enjoy the movie if you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet. This is quickly becoming one of our favorite new family traditions.

What are some regular family traditions you have in your house?

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