Monday, June 20, 2011

Doc Hollywood...but with Cars

If I had to think of one piece of modern technology I couldn't live without, my mind tends to wander to my iPhone or my plasma TV first...mostly because they're newer and I use them a lot for my own enjoyment.  But when I think of something absolutely essential in my life, I really have to say that my car is the most useful and necessary thing I own.  I mean, think about it.  I live in America, which is set up as a very sprawling, un-centrally-located, pedestrian unfriendly country (you can't just walk or bike anywhere and everywhere like in Europe) which means I need to drive to most of my daily destinations.  I also have to drive to see any of my close friends...they're spread out all over...and I have to drive to reach places that are more exciting than where I live (like an amusement park...or a shopping mecca).  So my car and I are fairly inseparable when you really think of it, and yet I take it for granted very easily.  If it breaks or needs work, it comes as a shock and suddenly my entire life has to be rearranged so that I can get from point A to point B.  So our cars need a lot more love than we tend to give them on a regular basis...and what I'm getting to in my round-a-bout way is that the Pixar movie Cars is equally taken for granted as a less-remarkable film in their repertoire.  Its unfortunate too, because Cars is still first-class entertainment.

Lightning McQueen is a racing rookie who has taken this year's Piston Cup season by storm.  He is fast, cocky, and looks to be in the running to be the new champion.  However, due to his own overconfidence he blows his easy victory and ends up in a three-way tie with The King, the current and soon to retire champion, and Chick Hicks, the racer who has lived in The King's shadow for years.  Oh, did I mention that they're all talking cars?  Yes, it is a world run and populated by cars and car shaped geography...but that is really beside the point.  Due to the tie, all three hopefuls are called to Hollywood to race in the tie-breaker to end all tie-breakers and McQueen is determined to get there first.  However, due to making his mack truck, Mack, drive all night and the actions of a bunch of punks, McQueen ends up separated from his truck and lost on historic Route 66.  He ends up in a town called Radiator Springs...a ghost town that is barely surviving...and due to driving faster than he can actually think, he tears up the town and the road.  So as punishment, McQueen is forced to repair the road.  At first he is resentful and arrogant towards the small town folks...but soon he finds himself growing to love the townspeople (cars?) and their little town.

So if any of you ever saw that Michael J. Fox movie called Doc Hollywood, you will find that this movie is remarkably similar.  A big time city go-getter ends up stranded in small-town hell after a run in with the law and is trapped into community service.  Suddenly, due to the personal touch of the town and its people, the go-getter has a change of heart and begins to wonder if he really wants what he started off wishing for.  It wasn't even a new story then, but then Pixar has always found their best material from slightly familiar situations that are given unfamiliar twists.  With Cars, it is simply substituting cars for people that makes the tale much more original.  Suddenly, things like 'taking a drive' and 'racing' are given completely different meanings due to the fact that it isn't the operators that we are identifying with, but rather the machines themselves.  These machines that we take so for granted in our lives live to be driven and to fulfill that purpose, and it is from that purpose that they achieve happiness. For some it is racing, for some it is providing gasoline, and for others it is for changing tires.  Perhaps our own cars have these kinds of feelings too...they live only to serve man and to convey him from point A to point B.  They get this right so often, maybe we should give them a little more appreciation than the majority of us do.

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