With so many different entertainment options out there for your children, we at PopcornBiz thought we'd take a moment each week to dissect one piece of family entertainment strictly from a parent's perspective, so that you know what parts are appropriate for your loved ones, and which are not. This week's COVER YOUR EYES subject: “Cars”
"Cars 2" recently sold nearly two million DVDs in its first week of release, which is a lot considering that it was easily Pixar's most derided film of all time. In fact, it may shock you to learn that "Cars 2" out-grossed its predecessor in theaters, and earning more than a half-a-BILLION dollars worldwide, making it yet another hugely profitable venture despite its perceived status as a flop. So don't go thinking you're safe from "Cars 3." Apparently, international audiences love it when Larry the Cable Guy goes around as a slow-witted tow truck. He's like a modern-day Jerry Lewis. With that in mind, I wanted to look back at the original "Cars" to see if it was appropriate for your little ones. As always, we must consider a few factors.
The “Will Parents Be Able To Tolerate It?” Factor: Probably. I personally thought the first "Cars" movie was awful, the only Pixar movie (until "Cars 2") that felt like the product of a marketing brief rather than a good storytelling idea. You could have slapped a Dreamworks title card at the front of the movie and I probably wouldn't have batted an eyelash. But I'm in the minority here. Most people liked the original's blend of easy automotive puns and sappy "country folk are REAL folk" messaging. And the visuals, as always, are stunning. I just wish the breathtaking vistas didn't come with a Rascal Flatts soundtrack.
The Dead Parent Factor: None. While "Cars" gets emotional at times, there's no daddy car being shot to death by a deranged used car owner or anything. Even the Paul Newman car doesn't die, and I figured his car death was inevitable. In fact, "Cars" is a great movie for smaller children specifically because it's a lesser Pixar film, lacking the kind of intense moments that can overwhelm younger viewers (like "Toy Story 3" or "Finding Nemo" might). I mean, you're talking about talking cars here. There's not a whole lot at stake. I don't really care if Lightning takes that Dinoco sponsorship at the end.
The Sexy Sex Sex Factor: None. But I'm sure that Lightning and Sally had quite a sex scene left on the cutting room floor.
The Scare Factor: Minimal. Unless your child is terrified by the idea of a cozy rural American town becoming a relic of a bygone era. Somehow, I doubt that's the case.
The Violence Factor: None. There are a couple of accidents in which the talking cars get hurt, but it's nothing compared to the car-on-car violence of the sequel.
The Seizure Factor: Here is the one problem with "Cars," which is not a scary film or a provocative one. It's LOUD. It's very loud, and the racing scenes contain so many flashing colors and sensory overload that your child may just drop to the ground and seize up for five hours straight. It's like a tube of Pixi Stix committed to celluloid. Of course, if your kid has already been subjected to garbage like "Wow Wow Wubbzy!", it's not gonna matter much. Also, given the merchandise push, letting them see "Cars" basically means you're on the hook for the "Cars" toy dining set. Brutal.
Age Range: 3 and up.