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'Cars': Family-friendly all the way

Posted By Ted Baehr On 06/03/2006 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

“Cars” wins hands down the checkered flag for a great premiere at the No. 1 NASCAR speedway in Charlotte, N.C., and for even better interviews with the cast, the crew and the executives involved in this very family-friendly movie.

Disney and Pixar outdid themselves at the premiere. They erected the biggest screens ever so that over 30,000 people could watch the premiere of “Cars.” They allowed a few of us to go into the pits to talk to the mechanics and the great racers, such as Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Richard Petty. Best of all, every single person that I interviewed was upbeat and family-friendly.

This was a surprise. Our review of Larry the Cable Guy’s last movie made me squeamish about interviewing him, but the newly wedded Larry was very excited about the heartfelt faith and values in the movie. In fact, his character, Mater, gets the line that starts the tears flowing. He tells Lightning McQueen, the protagonist in “Cars,” “I made a good choice.” Lightning asks him, “What was that?” And Mater replies, “By choosing you as my best friend.” From this point, Lightning McQueen starts to learn the value of friendship.

Bonnie Hunt, who plays Lightning’s romantic interest in the movie, made it a point of saying how much she loves MOVIEGUIDE?, having won an Epiphany Prize for her movie “Return to Me.” When I told her she had appeared in a great number of MOVIEGUIDE? winners, she said she is very careful about choosing scripts that are full of faith and family values and that this care in selecting scripts has hurt her financially.

Cheech Marin was there with his whole family and surprised me by being extraordinarily family-friendly and friendly to MOVIEGUIDE?.

Tony Shalhoub, the star of TV’s “Monk,” is another MOVIEGUIDE? award-winning actor who told me he enjoys doing family-oriented movies.

John Ratzenberger is one of our favorite people in Hollywood. He understands clearly the need for clean movies. He says he’s very concerned about even the slightest bit of foul language, because one day some years back his 5-year-old son used a bad word and told John that he heard it in a family movie. John adds some really good humor to the movie, especially during the credits. So, stay for the credits of “Cars.”

Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook is overjoyed that they could produce a broad-audience, family-friendly movie. And, once again, he wants to get together with MOVIEGUIDE?.

John Lasseter, the director of “Cars” and one of the brains behind Pixar, attended the premiere with his whole family, which includes five children. He says that “Cars” is his own story. He was working too hard a few years ago, and his wife told him he needed to take time off. So, they decided to get in a car and drive across country, just living day by day for two weeks. Mr. Lasseter says the trip changed his life and his family for the better.

As far as MOVIEGUIDE? is concerned, the Pixar/Disney team has gone from glory to glory – not only in the quality of their movies, but also in the fact that their heart is in the right place. They go out of their way to care not just about everybody in the production, but also all their fans and friends. In fact, they seem to have taken the message of “Cars” to heart.


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