“They’re driving right by! They don’t
even know what they’re missing.”
Aside from being one of the world’s leading animation studios, Pixar has
also had the rare privilege of becoming a household name. This is due, in
part, to their film’s breathtaking visuals, memorable characters and
trademark wit. But I would argue that their influence doesn’t solely derive
from these aforementioned elements. Rather, it is in Pixar’s gift of such
emotive storytelling, that we are taught life lessons which have stuck with
us long after we leave the cinema. Take WALL-E for example, a Sci-Fi epic
which primarily focuses on the romance between two robots, but also
educates us in pointing out that the beautiful, sensitive care we afford to
our relationships, should also be applied to our world that we live in.
Cars, despite presenting an antithesis of the ‘life in the fast lane’ approach, is
no exception. There is slow space within its runtime (strange, considering this
is a tale about a race car), but it is largely thoughtful and hardly ever
Interestingly though, Cars seems to be at its most emotionally affecting when it offers a prayer of lament for towns along Route 66, who were bypassed by the arrival of the interstate highway and subsequently forgotten. In a touching scene, one character reflects upon the former beauty of the town, as McQueen gazes upon the valley in which it is positioned. She points out that it was once teeming with life, but in order to “save 15 minutes of driving”, passers through began to use the interstate. Long ago, she says, the “road moved with the land; it didn’t cut through it”. The penny suddenly drops for McQueen: “They’re driving right by! They don’t even know what they’re missing”, he exclaims, whilst simultaneously realising that he has done the self-same thing. This brief moment prompted me to think about these words of Jesus:
Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:26, NLT)
In McQueen’s unwavering determination to pursue his heart’s desires, it causes him to miss that which the film believes to be some of the most important things in life: friends, family, the importance of valuing others, the beauty of the earth, selflessness and being content with not ‘having it all’, amongst other things. We too, have been guilty of this. In our desire to live life the way we want to, we end up choosing empty pursuits - those which the Bible teaches rob us of experiencing true joy, hope, love and peace from God. On the surface, they might be perfectly good things.
However, in choosing to pursue them wholeheartedly, we might become selfish and self-obsessed. We could begin to neglect those closest to us or become consumed by the pursuit itself. And “where there is...selfishness, there is also disorder”, the Bible teaches (James 3:16, GNT).
Selfishness is sinful in God’s eyes, for in loving our possessions, or valuing life goals more than we are called to love God and others, will ultimately result in destructive behaviour. It distracts us from God, who is the “source of all life” (Numbers 27:16), and will cause us to not only follow empty pursuits here, but when we choose to ignore God, this also has eternal consequences; being separated from God eternally in a place of weeping. Instead, we should heed the words of Jesus when he says:
(Matthew 6:19-21, GNT)
Challenge: Why not prayerfully invite a
friend or family member who doesn’t yet
know Jesus, to watch Cars for
themselves. Then, using the themes
discussed above, be bold and ask them what they
might have thought of the film, or if they spotted
any links to Christianity and what they might think of the
Gospel’s response to this subject. Perhaps you could
ask them if they’ve ever thought they might be missing
out on something greater in life, and what could potentially stop them and us from experiencing that? You could then ask them if they knew of God’s response to the film’s themes and, if they're open to hearing it, take an opportunity to share the hope of the Gospel message with them.
Prior to watching the film for yourself, however, why not pray for God to speak to you throughout the film and if you feel comfortable, pray this prayer over this and all of your future, film-watching experiences:
Dear Lord, As I watch this film, I ask that you would be present here with me. Highlight to me anything within it that is honourable, anything that can be used in conversation for your Kingdom purposes. Amen.
Cars is now available to stream on Disney+, or purchase on DVD & Blu-Ray