Unsettling Questions Raised by the Alternate Reality in ‘Cars’


John Lasseter, the chief nerd-wizard at Pixar, recently gave an interview to Box Office Magazine wherein he explained some of the mysteries surrounding the universe in which the “Cars” movies are set. We appreciate the effort, but we still have many questions, each more unsettling than the last.

1) Were there ever human beings in this world, or is it an alternate reality where cars evolved instead of people?

We suspect it is the latter. Everything in this world appears to have been made specifically for the use of sentient automobiles, not (as the opposing theory holds) retrofitted by the newly sentient autos after the people all died out. There’s no indication that humans were ever here, no references to them as fossils, nothing. Moreover, the closing credits in “Cars” showed that the “Cars” world has its own versions of Pixar movies. This supports the “alternate reality” theory, as it is not plausible that the cars would coincidentally produce films that happened to be exactly like specific films produced by their human predecessors. They could have done it on purpose, we suppose, as homages, the way Gus Van Sant redid “Psycho,” but we don’t think so.

2) If this is indeed a world that has never been populated by anything other than motor vehicles, then why do the cars have doors and door handles?

The seats and steering wheels could be the equivalent of their internal organs, filling some function other than what we would use a car’s seat and steering wheel for. So what does that make the doors? Some kind of easy access for car doctors to get inside a patient? That’s weird, but we suppose we can buy it.

3) Where do the cars come from?

“Cars 2” mentions that cars are made in factories, which means we do not have to contemplate the logistics of automobile procreation. Instead, we are faced with larger questions. Who makes these cars? Why are there different makes and models of such varying degrees of quality and reliability? With humans, it makes sense that you’d have a few “clunkers” here and there, what with genetics and natural selection and dumb people breeding and everything. That isn’t the case here. These cars are presumably being manufactured by other cars, each one created on purpose, not at random like so many people are. You’d think any lemon that came off the line would be scrapped and rebuilt.

4) At what point in the manufacturing process do the cars become living things?

Is it when the first two pieces of the frame are welded together? When it first becomes recognizable as a “car”? When it rolls down the ramp out of the factory for the first time?

5) Why is automobile racing the predominant sport in this universe?

The equivalent in our world is running, and nobody cares about that.

6) How does the caste system work?

“Cars 2” establishes that vehicles such as boats, planes, and trains are also living things in this universe. What’s curious is that they’re all subservient to the cars. Perhaps that cargo ship is being paid a reasonable salary for his labors, hauling cars and their stuff across oceans. But think about it: He was built as a cargo ship. What else was he going to do for a living? He was destined to be a cargo ship from the moment he came out of the cargo ship factory. It’s disturbing to contemplate a society where your life’s path is pre-determined based on how you’re built.

7) Out of respect for the late Paul Newman, they left the character of Doc Hudson out of “Cars 2.” But George Carlin is just as dead, and all they did was get somebody else to voice his character. What’s up with that?

His name even had the word “car” in it, and we know for a fact that the “Cars” people love crap like that.

— Film.com