image for Cars

Short takes

Not recommended under 5, PG to 8 (Viol.)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Cars
  • a review of Cars completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 10 June 2006.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to violence and risky behaviours.
Children aged 5-8 Parental guidance recommended.
Children over the age of 8 Most should be okay to see this movie with or without parental guidance.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Cars
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length: 116 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) the hottest, most self-centred, rookie on the racing circuit, is shocked when he learns that he has tied for first place in the Piston Cup along with two other race cars: The King (Richard Petty) and Chick Kicks (Michael Keaton). He sets out for California to race in the tiebreaker, but takes a wrong turn and winds up stuck in Radiator Springs, a tiny forgotten town situated on the unused Route 66.

There he meets Sally (Bonnie Hunt), a snazzy little Porsche who simultaneously captures his heart and sentences him to community service in the town; Doc (Paul Newman) a Hudson Hornet with a mysterious past; and Mater (Larry The Cable Guy) a rusty, beat-up old toe-truck who teaches him the value of friendship.

While completing his community service Lightning McQueen slowly gets to know the cars that make up Radiator Springs and learns the sad history leading up to the town’s abandonment. From his new found friends he learns many timely lessons from what would appear to be the most unlikely sources, lessons that not only serve him well in life but also seal his fate in the Piston Cup.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

None of concern.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, showing little regard for possible consequences should they have taken place in real life. Examples include:

  • during the first race Chick Hicks side swipes another car and sends him careening out of control, thereby causing one car to slam into another. Some cars spin out of control, some flip over, some fly towards the screen.
  • Lightning McQueen has a daydream about robots blasting a city while shooting missiles at various objects.
  • a sleeping Lightning McQueen inadvertently rolls off the back of a truck and is nearly hit by cars and trucks as he swerves to avoid causing a crash
  • as Lightening McQueen races down route 66 he believes a police car is shooting at him. He speeds out of control through town, tearing up the street and damaging property in the process.
  • Lightning McQueen plays chicken with a train and speeds across the tracks an instant before he would have been hit.
  • Chick Hicks sideswipes The King during the tie-breaking round of the Piston Cup and badly damages The King, putting him out of the race.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there is one scene in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five. Late one night, Lightning McQueen and Mater are chased through a field by an enormous tractor named Frank who appears intent on destroying them. Frank’s crushing blades seem ready to rip Lightening McQueen to shreds when the terrified car crashes through a fence and Frank stops. The intensity of the scene coupled with the darkness and suspenseful music could frighten younger viewers.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed or scared by the scene mentioned above.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children over the eight are unlikely to be scared or disturbed by this movie. However, parents are cautioned that some susceptible children may be inclined to imitate the risk taking and reckless behaviours portrayed, without understanding the potential real-life consequences.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be scared or disturbed by this film.

Product placement

None of concern.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Lightning McQueen attempts to sweet talk Sally and tells her, with a voice full of implication, how he can make her feel things; things she could have never felt before.
  • one car is slapped on the rear by another and winds up with a bumper sticker that reads “Nice Butte”.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern.

Use of substances

A hippie van from Radiator Springs attempts to promote his moonshine petrol.

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language and name-calling in this movie, including:

  • Holy shoot!
  • hillbilly hell
  • ah, dang!
  • Grumpy Grandpa Car
  • idiot

In a nutshell

While boasting some outstanding computer animated graphics the story line of Cars is fairly predictable. The main message is that sometimes the best things in life get overlooked in the name of advancement, and that life’s true meaning lies in the journey, not at the finish line.

This movie could give parents the opportunity to discuss responsibility and sportsmanship as well as the possible consequences of irresponsible driving.