A strong point of this movie is the cast of friendly and unique characters. We have the ridiculous and lovable Tow Mater, Doc Hudson, a grumpy old car who it turns out used to be an old race car, and Sally, the love interest, as well as some fun other townfolk. Though this story is obviously fictional, the ideas behind it aren't. Radiator Springs is a run down old town that relied on tourism and visitors traveling on Route 66. Once a new, more direct road was built, they stopped getting traffic. This was true of many towns along Route 66. The people that lived there made a living off of travelers and visitors, and once they stopped coming the towns suffered greatly.
I also like the ending and what happens in the final race. It's somewhat predicable, and shows that Lightning learned his lesson, but it's a nice way to end things.
Overall I think this is a really good movie, but somehow it just doesn't stand out to me as stellar, like some of the other Pixar movies do. I like some of the voice choices - I think Owen Wilson does a really good job as Lightning McQueen. The funniest part is actually during the credits. The cars go to a drive in movie theater, where they watch a series of other Pixar movies - only they all star Cars (A Toy Car Story, A Bug's Life (as in VW bug), Monster Trucks, Inc.). Make sure you don't turn off the movie before the credits, because you don't want to miss this little extra!
The characters don't sing, but there are some good song choices here for the soundtrack. It of course includes the song "Route 66," as well as a cover of "Life is a Highway" by Rascal Flatts. Brad Paisley also has a few songs on the soundtrack, including one used for the end credits. As a country music fan, I'm a big fan of this soundtrack.
The biggest obstacle Lightning McQueen faces is overcoming his own limitations - namely, believing he is the best at everything. In terms of characters, a rival race car named Chick Hicks is pretty obnoxious. He's not only a jerk, he violently rams the lead car during the ending race, causing a good amount of destruction. However, since Lightning spends most of his time in Radiator Springs, Chick isn't really featured that prominently as a villain, putting him pretty low on the list of powerful and evil Disney Villains.
The WDW Connection
I'm willing to bet that Disney will see a lot of little Cars touches in the next year, in terms of merchandising and small, changable items due to the fact that the sequel is coming out. However, there aren't any permanent rides or attractions themed around Cars. You can actually meet the characters from Cars in Hollywood Studios, though they are animatronics rather than actual people in costume. Also, the new Art of Animation resort, which is due to open in summer 2012, will have a whole Cars themed building.
Becky's rating: 8.5 out of 10
Jason's rating: 9 out of 10