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Family Friendly Movie Guide

'Cars 2': A Message Delivered With a 'Ka-Chow'!?

By: Tara McNamara on June 24, 2011 at 10:39AM Comments (9)

 

Tara McNamara, editor of KidsPickFlicks.com, guests on our Fandango Freshly Popped Blog with her take on social and political messages cropping up in animated movies.

Hollywood’s hottest movie trends are hard to miss: dark fairy tales like Red Riding Hood, turning toys and games into movies like Transformers and revisionist history as seen in X-Men: First Class. This weekend’s new release Cars 2 reflects a more subtle and unexpected trend creeping into animated family films:  political commentary.

The storyline of Cars 2 teststhe friendship of country bumpkin tow-truck Mater and savvy race car Lightning McQueen during a globe-trotting race. The World Grand Prix is designed to show off the efficiency of “alternative fuels” and quite a bit of dialogue is dedicated to biofuels and electric cars with the message that traditional oil companies are evil.
It’s an eco-political message that many American moviegoers likely agree with (save those with the last names Exxon Mobil or Chevron). However, as a parent, it personally makes me uncomfortable to take my child to an entertaining movie about talking cartoon cars, only to be bait-and-switched.
It’s a concept pulled off in Happy Feet, a movie that looked like it was about a community of dancing penguins but really was about environmental destruction. Pixar also pulled it off in Wall-E, a commentary about the gluttony and selfish excess of society disguised as a robot love story. Those movies were box office hits and won Academy Awards. Kids liked the movies, too: both films were voted the KidsPickFlicks’ “PICK of the Year.”
Movies often challenge our beliefs, but the question for parents is: do you mind social or political messages cropping up in movies geared towards children? If you’ve seen Cars 2, did you feel the environmental message was out of the blue - or just right and fitting, considering the film’s storyline?
To read what kids think about Cars 2, go to www.KidsPickFlicks.com.

Tags: Cars 2

Categories: Family Films

Comments (9)Leave a Comment

  • Apr 12th 2012 6:59PM

     said...

    Seriously everyone agrees with this message unless your last name is exxon? How about everyone except people who drive cars and are tired of paying $4 a gallon for gas while the president burns through our money looking for magical pixie dust to create energy. Hows the algae thing coming?

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  • Aug 31st 2011 3:24PM

    Phaia  said...

    How could you possibly think it is any different than fables when all we had were books?

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  • Jul 10th 2011 6:20PM

    random70  said...

    I am wondering, why no one here has commented on the increasing violence and the storyline, which would probably be at least PG 13, if it wasn't told by cute little cartoon characters. In the meantime the movie makers are making children's movies like Cars 2 and Kung Fu Panda, and even Toy Story 3 more and more violent. We let kids as young as sometimes 3 or 2-years old watch cars being tortured and killed, toys interrogated and threatened. Kung Fu Panda 2 was a sheer display of weaponry. The kids that were in the movie today, did not laugh once during this movie. I overheard comments from kids, like: It was too long; I didn't like the bombs; Zookeeper might have been better. Overall nothing for kids younger then 10.

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  • Jun 24th 2011 2:27PM

    trailerfan  said...

    yeah, i saw "Cars 2" and i didn't mind the message - which was a little much - but the movie is pro-alternative fuels - who could be against that? and it's not as if the gas-guzzlers were the villains...in fact most of the villains, if i recall it correctly, were compact cars that never took off - the "lemons" - like the Pacer and Gremlin...

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  • Jun 24th 2011 11:34AM

    NassaDane  said...

    --"creeping into animated family films"-- Its been here for awhile now. Look at Ferngully.

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  • Jun 24th 2011 11:02AM

    scleno  said...

    Kids movies should be just that, for kids! Bombarding our kids with political indoctrination messages everywhere they go is getting very irritating. Let them be kids and watch fun mindless movies! Do we really take our kids to the movies for educational value at that age? I think not! I go to spend some fun quality time with my kid.

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  • Jun 24th 2011 12:20PM

    mman  said...

    I understand what you're saying, but sometimes film makers strive for more than just "mindless" entertainment. I feel that, if done well, a movie can have such messages and still entertain in droves. Sometimes, the makers of animated movies try to create art. Why is it that so many animated movies nowadays are so mainstream, like they're made on a conveyor belt? For the kids, yes, but they deserve much more. I love Pixar films, because they can pull off the political messages without being too preachy.

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  • Jun 24th 2011 12:36PM

    scleno  said...

    The best movie with a political message that I have seen which also included life lessons about integrity and character was Rango!

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  • Jun 24th 2011 6:10PM

    mman  said...

    I loved Rango!

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