Pixar’s Cars analysis

I was thinking it might be time to “phone a friend” on this :slight_smile:

I think (correct me if I’m wrong @Gregolas and @Hunter) - we’re all pretty good with OS of Physics, Failure/Good, Change character.

And I think at the element level Help/Hinder make a lot of sense.

There have been some questions of whether the MC might be in Mind rather than Universe, since it does seem that he has kind of fixed attitudes about a lot of things. I am not convinced, mainly because I have trouble seeing him as a Be-er. In our original (MC in Universe) storyform, we have his Issue in Preconception, which I think kind of covers the things that might look like Mind issues.

But that still leaves us with the question of how to illustrate how his personal issues are in Universe, from the very beginning of the story.

And the Decision vs. Action driver which we never resolved.

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That works for me! I think it fits the whole thematic argument of the movie too.

Mmmaybe? Except, I don’t really see how having a lame sponsor is a problem. The closest it gets it “I don’t like rusty cars, but being the spokesperson for Rust-eze means being around rusty cars.” I guess that’s a problem, sort of, but…hm. And it’s never really said that he has a crappy pit crew, or that the crew is causing him problems. It’s more like his attitude that he is a one-man show causes his crew to get angry and quit. It’s also suggested several times that no one wants to work with him because he thinks he’s a one-man show.

I think it may be starting to click for me after reading through some of your suggestions. If the Goal is to Obtain the Piston Cup, then OS SP 1 probably isn’t also Obtaining the cup, but, rather, obtaining first place. I can see that as being problematic because every time someone does something to get in the lead (first Chick, and then Lightning) it ends up with them falling behind (when Lightning doesn’t pit and gets into first, and then when Lightning passes on tire changes and lets Chick and the King catch up). So that does feel like Obtaining (Goal) through Obtaining (Sign Post). And then SP 4 problems are less about trying to get into first and more about dealing with being pushed off the track and drifting and driving backwards. (Again, hindering Lightning by pushing him off the track isn’t a problem for Lightning who drifts into first place, but a problem for Chick who is then in third). So that could be Obtaining through Doing.

So still thinking about MC in Universe, I looked back at the theory book.

If the Main Character’s Througline is Situation … questions like the following would arise: What is it like to be in my situation? What is my status? What condition am I in? Where am I going to be in the future? What’s so special about my past?

Thinking aloud:

Lightning is driven by his self-perceived status; his desire for status and his attitude toward it creates all of his problems, and that starts at the beginning of the movie. He thinks he’s above everyone, especially his crew, which is how missing the first pit stop is an MC issue as well as an OS one. As an OS character, his goal is to win the Piston Cup. His personal goal, however, is to change his status.

This still feels very internal to me. But I can see that there is some status there with him being the rookie and the media flocking to him after the race rather than Chick and wanting to see the bolt.

But if everything in the first race were OS, then it shouldn’t matter that Lightning isn’t having Universe problems because at that point he would be an OS character and not the MC character, right? On the whole, I want to say he has more Universe problems than mind problems, but those Mind problems still feel very present. If lots of other people are also feeling this Universe/Mind mix, maybe that could be part of the reason for the lower RT score (though I think it has more to do with that slow SP 3).

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Don’t forget that both Issues we’ve chosen (Attitude and Preconception) are Mind-oriented Variations.

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This thread just keeps on going, doesn’t it?

Okay, so I’ll start thinking of all the mind problems as being thematic in mature. Preconception/Attitude - “I’m a race car, dang it! Treat me like a famous person!”

Could problems of the Past have anything to do with the appearance at the Rust-eze tent? Lightning wants this high profile status, and that’s a problem because he’s stuck being a spokesman for a lame, small medicated bumper ointment company where he must be surrounded by rusty cars?

(Edit: this would have to do with the past in that he has a past relationship with Rust-eze that he contractually can’t get out of)

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Cool! Plus, isn’t using ointment to cover up your rust kind of like covering up your past, hiding your age, that kind of thing? “Ughh. I hate rusty cars. All this Past is not good for my image”

Question for you guys. If you’re still a bit stuck on Do-er vs. Be-er MC (and I can see why), can you look at the IC? Not sure if that’s mostly Doc or anyone else, but maybe it would be simpler to see if they’re a Do-er or a Be-er.

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This brings me back to a question I’ve had before and never asked because it didn’t seem like a very important distinction when I could just go for the most dramatic option available. But my first thought was “the Past is not good for my image” seems like conflict, but not necessarily a problem. As far as Dramatica and Jim and all are concerned, are conflict and problem interchangeable? Are problems worse than conflict? If they aren’t the same, is conflict enough, or does it need to be a bigger problem? Or am I getting it backwards and it’s not enough to have a problem because there needs to be more conflict?

This is a good idea. Except I would get into all the nit picky overthinking just as much. Is the IC supposed to be a Be-er, or is it more about how he’s influencing the Do-er MC to be a Be-er? Does Doc have a fixed Mind, is he influencing Lightning’s Mind? He seems to be influencing Lightning’s Situation. He’s the one that sentences Lightning to fix the road and makes sure he only has a gallon of gas. Isn’t that an IC throughline of Universe?

By the way, I definitely think Doc feels like a Be-er. “Get that race car out of my town! What? Have him fix the road? Okay, whatever. Have him fix the road!”

I figured the King’s speech was OS Attitude v Approach. I feel like I may be reaching rather than using what’s in the movie, but I’m thinking when Doc comes into the court room and sees Lightning, he remembers being a race car and what it was like for him and wants Lightning out of his courtroom. The audience wouldn’t know until later in the film that it was a memory behind this-as opposed to a preconscious reflex stemming from a prejudice against race cars or something-until it’s revealed in a later SP.

We’ve gone deep into this analysis, and despite my best Conragonistic efforts to talk us out of it, I’m feeling pretty happy with our MC Universe, Problem of Hinder storyform. Even if Jim were to come say, no, you’re all wrong, I still feel like we’ve got some great arguments and I’ve learned some good stuff from the interactions in this thread. Thanks, @Lakis, @Hunter et al for going so far into it with me!

That said, we still haven’t figured out those darn drivers! I’ve just about argued myself into seeing it as Action, but all the choices we’ve made force Decision. So now I’m wondering, can the Decision driver be the LACK of a decision? As in, the three way tie failed to offer a decisive champion? (Did someone bring this up already? I feel like I got this idea from someone else)

Actually, we can enter Changed, Stop, Do-er, Linear, Spacelock, Failure, Good, Physics, Obtaining, Attitude, Hinder in 11 of the 12 Questions and get everything but the Signposts filled out. So, our major Storyform choices don’t actually force anything.

That is an excellent question. I wish I knew.

Honestly, I like the Signpost order a bit better for Decision than for Action, but only so much. Originally, I was having a hard time pinpointing the decisions or deliberations that could mark turning points. But, now I have some.

  1. The decision that the race ended in a tie. (But, Lightning refused a tire change.)
  2. The decision to keep Lightning in Radiator Springs. (But, Lightning tore up the town.)
  3. Lightning’s decision not to run off. (Though, could be Lightning’s discovery of Doc.)
  4. Doc’s choice to call. Lightning “choosing” to go back. (But, really Mac kind of forced him.)
  5. Lightning’s decision to help the King. (But, Chick caused the wreck in the first place.)

The problem is that I can also pinpoint actions near the same locations as these…
Plus, most of these feel more like they were forced by a previous Action, as indicated.

*Throws things on the floor in frustration*
This is the biggest part of the theory that I just can’t wrap my head around. Driver is more difficult for me than the RS seems to be for most everyone else. (Interestingly, I actually understand the RS fairly well, I think, due to knowing some non-English words for various relationships.)


Ah, maybe I was thinking of one of the forms I was trying to get that kept forcing decision.

Perhaps you could, if so inclined, start a new thread to share some insights?

I would say refusing tire changes and getting flats don’t drive the story. They lead to a tie, but it’s the tie that drives the story. And though I’ve waffled on this, I think refusing the change could be a decision followed by the flats that lead to the decision of a three way tie.

The decision to roll through the night led to tearing up the town. Also, tearing up the town doesn’t change the course of the story. Doc dismissed the case, after all. It’s only after the decision is made to make him fix the road that the story changes.

The King crashing doesn’t stop Lightning from crossing the line. Making the decision to go back and help stops him, and the action that follows-pushing the King across the line-solves all the story problems.

That’s it. I’m sold on Decision now. Same thing we had about 100 posts ago!

Drivers are super hard for me too! The whole chicken-egg thing makes it super hard.

But hold on, I think a race ending in a three-way tie has to be an Action driver, not a Decision driver.

(Yes, I think lack of a Decision could be a legitimate Decision driver, like a jury coming back and saying “we’re hopelessly deadlocked”. But, I’d say that rolling a die or picking a name from a hat or deciding a winner based on a sporting contest are all almost certainly Action-driven. Still, this question is worthy of a separate thread.)

Meanwhile, Lightning refusing a tire change could be a decision (though that wouldn’t necessarily make it the driver). It could be the First Driver if it feels like it really forced the three-way tie and that it really was a decision, not something he “just did”.

I would definitely agree that coming in first is an Action. But being unable to decide who was first seems much more like a decision. It even forces the action of another race.

Look at Rocky. If he goes down in the first round by knockout, that’s an action. But that’s not how the winner was decided. After twelve rounds both boxers were still standing and Apollo Creed only won by decision. And Rocky, despite all the boxing and training, is a Decision-driven story.

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Here are the two instances that really confuse me with the drivers in this movie:

  1. Lightning is given a legitimate choice to run when Sally fills up his tank. He chooses to stay in Radiator Springs, which turns the direction of the movie at that point. Just filling up the tank does nothing to force this Decision.
  2. Lightning discovers Doc’s history, by accident, mind you, with nothing really seeming to force this discovery. The movie also changes fairly heavily at this point, and I can see nothing of a Decision that forces this to happen.

With that said, the lower score on Rotten Tomatoes, and the seemingly easy Signpost orders for both Action and Decision, I’m wondering if this is a Story Point that didn’t fully make it into the movie. (Other than the virtually absent OS SP 3). If that’s the case, then perhaps the story isn’t entirely complete but comes darn close.

I think we might need some additional help for this point…

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Wow, this has been a long thread! Very instructive though–I feel like I’ve learned a lot. Thanks @Hunter and @Gregolas for all the good discussion.

Reading the last few posts, I kept bouncing back and forth between Action and Decision myself.

I argued earlier that Decision makes for a better signpost order (especially when we were looking at the PSR) but that’s only true for parts of it; I actually think Action makes more sense in places. I also think there are places where neither option makes sense. For example, I think the discovery that Doc is the Hudson Hornet happens right in the middle of the movie, which would suggest that either Signpost 2 or 3 should have something about Memory or the Past in it, but there’s no option for that with either Decision or Action.

So I guess I’m throwing my hands up on this too.

OS Signpost 3 is Learning - Lightning learns how to drive on the dirt track, he learns who Doc really is, and the media learns (from Doc) where Lightning really is. Do those count?