Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: October 15, 2006
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 116 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Characters learn to appreciate one another's differences; some race and ethnic stereotypes.

Positive role models

Lightening learns the importance of appreciating the differences in everyone.

Violence & scariness

Car falls off his transport truck, briefly faces "gang" of cars; rip-roaring chase through small town leaves road torn up.

Sexy stuff

Chaste flirting between boy and girl cars.


Use of the word "hell."


An enormous amount of merchandise associated with Cars, including toys, food products, and consumer goods. Within the movie Goodyear tires and NASCAR are featured.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the car characters do some pretty raucous racing, careening off walls, trees, and each other. A group of The Fast and the Furious-style vehicles briefly threaten another car. Cars argue with one another, lose their tempers, and look sad or lonely. There's some innocent flirtation between boy and girl cars. Some mild language -- at least one use of "hell." At 116 minutes, it's on the long side for animation and may be too much for some really little kids. But stick around for the closing credits!

What's the story?

As his name suggests, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is all about speed. A hotshot red stock car who's poised to be the next champion -- Lightning wants to win the coveted Piston Cup. As the movie begins, he hits the track in a race against two legendary race cars. A dead-heat finale sends these three key contenders off to a showdown. Lightning boards his transport truck Mack (John Ratzenberger) and aims west along Route 66, but he's sidetracked when he falls off the truck in a small town where he meets his life teachers, including Sarge the reveille-playing, surplus-selling Jeep (Paul Dooley), Ramone the hyper-detailed lowrider (Cheech Marin), and new best friend, Mater the tow truck (Larry the Cable Guy) provides the requisite proud-to-be-a-redneck jokes. Sentenced to community service, Lightning tries to escape but eventually gives in. Lightning grumbles on the night shift, but by day, he discovers the beauty of the western landscape, all big skies and grand canyons, the sort of mythic imagery that, according to the movie's nostalgia, families once drove across country to consume.

Is it any good?


Colorful and often charming, CARS renders its nostalgia for a mythic past via state-of-the-art technologies. But once Lightning settles into the small town, the door opens for marketing opportunities. The film reframes many youthful fancies as consumable objects, ensuring that movie and NASCAR tie-in products will be in circulation.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the relationship between the old cars and the newer ones. They have different values. How does the film set up a choice between the current era (selfishness, commercial and celebrity culture run rampant) and a more ethical-seeming past (Doc embodies patience, skill, and dedication to community)?

  • How does Lightning learn to appreciate and also, conveniently, enhance that simpler life?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 9, 2006
DVD release date:November 7, 2006
Cast:Bonnie Hunt, Owen Wilson, Paul Newman
Directors:Joe Ranft, John Lasseter
Studio:Pixar Animation Studios
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Cars and trucks, Friendship
Character strengths:Humility, Integrity
Run time:116 minutes
MPAA rating:G
MPAA explanation:all audiences

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byzan27 April 1, 2011

Name calling used is NOT okay.

The name calling in this movie is not appropriate. I am surprised it is rated G. Here are quotes from the movie: "You Idiot" "You Fool" "You're Stupid" "You Moron" "What an Idiot" "Hillbilly Hell" "Tractors are so dumb"
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Parent of an infant and 2 year old Written byluckyl8dybug February 14, 2011

Inappropriate inuendos

I have to admit that I didn't even make it through this whole movie. My son is 2.5 and I am not sure when I will allow this one. It was easy for me to figure out that it is not for young audience when I saw the scene where a female car "flashes" her headlights at Lightning McQueen. I am sure that will go WAY over the head of most young ones. But Why even put that in the movie??? SO inappropriate. So when the review here says "mild flirting" I have to disagree. I would call that sexual in nature.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent of a 2 year old Written byKelbel September 26, 2010

Love this one!

A few bad words said during the movie such as moron & hell might turn some parents off. I like to watch the movie with my daughter to point out that when the characters say stuff such as moron that it's mean & wrong to call others names. Now she actually tells me about the cars that are naughty and those that are "good". She has never once repeated one of those words and we've seen the movie over 20 times. Also in response to another person's review....I believe that car at the end of the movie says "For the love of CHRYSLER...." not Christ. I agree with some people saying the tractor tipping scene is a bit scary but it is very brief lasting only a minute or two. "Cars" sends good messages like how to be a good friend, don't be selfish, and that we should give to others. Also shows that you should play fairly because cheating gets you nowhere. We love it!!!
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models


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