So at this point Cars has been one of the cash cows for Pixar and for parent company Disney. It’s ironic given that of all of the Pixar entries, Cars isn’t really among it’s best works (you’ll have to go back to Up, WALL-E, and Toy Story for the real gems). To that end, Cars 3 continues in that tradition of not being amongst the best in show, however this installment is perhaps on par with the first film if not a bit better (depending on your age and what you’re going for)
Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) is still winning races more often than he loses to his other longtime competitors. Suddenly a new crop of cars shows up: new and high tech, they’re burning up the track and winning race after race. It’s a story about learning to adapt to changes, and how to realize that there’s always new ways of finding how to be happy at various stages of one’s life. It’s not particularly deep. The new leader of the pack – a racecar that would have been at home on the grid in TRON, named Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), panders to McQueen, calling him an elder statesman, and quietly urging him off the track and out the door.
Fighting back, McQueen winds up in a crash that will make many NASCAR fans cringe. As he recovers, McQueen starts off on a quest to discover what tricks he might still have under the hood, and where he’ll fit in a changing world. He goes to the equivalent of a hipster gym to get back into top shape, only to go off-road and hunting down his lingering memories of his mentor, the prior era’s champion, Doc Hudson (voiced by the late Paul Newman, with lines cobbled together via outtakes and reassembled audio from his earlier performances).
It’s not a bad film, and it is entirely suitable for a full family outing. As with most Pixar films, it’ll connect on different levels depending on the age of the individual watching it. The kids will get a strength through adversity challenge, and adults who are perhaps a bit older, will get a message of “there’s more than one way to get satisfaction beyond being number one.”
The traditional Pixar pre-film short, this time called Lou, is another brilliant piece of non-verbal storytelling. As soon as you get what’s going on (and it’s likely that adults will get where it’s heading before the kids in the audience do), you’re likely to get a sniffle or two. But it’s a great anti-bullying message without being overly preachy. If I was scoring on Lou alone, I’d give it an 8 out of 10.
Cars 3 also stars Cristela Alonzo, Armie Hammer, Chris Cooper, Nathan Fillion, Larry the Cable Guy, Tony Shalhoub, Margo Martindale, Kerry Washington, Cheech Marin, Lea DeLaria, Bonnie Hunt, and Bob Costas. It is directed by Brian Fee and written by Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson, and Mike Rich.
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