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This came out in 2006, but I didn't see it until 2022. It was accompanied theatrically by the short film One Man Band. For a long time, I had no real interest in ever seeing "Cars", despite my general love of Pixar movies. I'm not sure why I didn't think it would appeal to me. But while finally forcing myself to watch it... I started out still not caring much about it. But my interest in it increased throughout the film. At the start, I wasn't sure I'd even rate it one smiley, but I ultimately rated it two smileys ("fairly liked"). Which is still not a very high rating, but it's not bad. (Even one smiley isn't really bad.) Anyway... even before I watched it, I knew enough about the plot to think it sounded like "Doc Hollywood", and watching the movie did nothing to change that impression. (And I can't even remember for sure whether or not I've ever seen "Doc Hollywood".) Apparently I'm not the only one who drew that comparison; Wikipedia says some people have claimed "Cars" plagiarized that movie. Personally, I don't really care about the plot similarity, but I did find it worth mentioning.
So... the world is inhabited by living cars instead of humans. Well, all sorts of living vehicles, actually, and while some of them are people, some are like animals. (Tractors are basically cows, for some reason.) And I find it kind of weird that the cars can just get their tires changed, which seems to me like replacing hands and feet. They can get any number of other alterations made, as well, which makes me wonder how much of a car is an innate part of their body. But all this is unimportant. The story is about a racecar named Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), who is a rookie vying for the Piston Cup in his first racing season. He could become the first rookie ever to win it. His main competitors are the longtime champ Strip "The King" Weathers (voiced by racecar driver Richard Petty) and longtime runner-up Chick Hicks (Michael Keaton). The three of them tie for first place in what was supposed to be the final race, so a tie-breaker race is scheduled for a week later, in California. Lightning is being driven there by a trailer truck named Mack, but through circumstances I don't want to get into, he accidentally leaves the trailer and ends up getting stuck in a small town called Radiator Springs. He wrecks the road there and is sentenced by the local judge, Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), to repair the road before he can leave. Meanwhile, he becomes friends with a rusty old tow truck named Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), and has a romantic interest in a Porsche named Sally (Bonnie Hunt). He also meets various quirky local cars.
Other than that, there's not much else I want to say about the plot. Lightning starts out very cocky and single-minded, and disdainful of rusty cars (which is a problem because rusty cars were responsible for his sponsorship). So throughout the film, he has to learn to become a better person, and develops a fondness for Radiator Springs and its inhabitants. And there's really not much more to it than that. There's a fun sequence at the end where the cars are watching a few Pixar movies with characters replaced by cars (with the same voice actors from the actual movies). And there's a post-credits scene with a couple of cars who had been seen earlier in the movie, passing through Radiator Springs. And I really don't know what else to say. I liked the movie, but it's my least favorite Pixar movie I've seen.
Followed by "Cars 2", which I'll probably get around to watching someday. I'll decide after that whether I want to watch the third movie, but there are also some short films I want to see. The first one was a bonus feature on the DVD of this movie, called Mater and the Ghostlight. The others are part of a series called Cars Toons.