Review - Cars 3

Cars 3 (2017), G, 109 minutes - Over the years, Disney/Pixar has proven to be the cream of the crop when it comes to animated films.  While I would argue that Pixar's overall library ranks above-average to excellent, there have been a couple of missteps in recent years.  This film's predecessor, 2011's Cars 2, being one of them.  That film suffered from its attempt at making Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), a wonderful supporting character, into the star of the film. Cars 3 returns Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) to the spotlight, and rights the ship for one of Pixar's most recognizable franchises.

Over the years, Lightning McQueen has risen to dominance of the Piston Cup circuit.  More often than not, either he or one of his buddies takes home the checkered flag, with the winner enjoying the spoils, and the others taking pride in playing pranks on the winner.  One day seemingly out of the blue a rookie, Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), takes the field by surprise and begins his own streak of dominance.  Storm is the face of a new generation of racers who emphasize science and analytics in order to obtain an edge on the track.  Couple Storm's rise to dominance with a horrendous, career-threatening crash, and Lightning finds himself at an unfamiliar career crossroads: does he continue to race at a lower level than he is used to or does he retire?  The rest of the film unfolds with Lightning trying to figure out just what it is that he wants to do and what will make him happy.    

There are a number of new characters, all with top-notch voice acting (which can always be expected from a Disney/Pixar film): Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), Smokey (Chris Cooper), Sterling (Nathan Fillion), Miss Fritter (Mia DeLaria), Natalie Certain (Kerry Washington), and the aforementioned Jackson Storm (Hammer).

As with any Disney/Pixar film, there are a number of morals and life lessons touched upon in this film.  Not only for the kids, but for adults as well.  The story is heartfelt and the Father's Day weekend release is actually the perfect time for it.  It may not deal with fatherhood directly, but the story relies heavily on themes of mentor-ship and father figures.  Cars 3 is a wonderful family film in general, but especially so if you enjoy the works of Disney/Pixar or even just the Cars franchise itself.  After a bit of a detour into the world of international racing and espionage, it returns to its roots small town racing, family, and doing what you love.












*****SPOILERS*****

- There were a number of personalities from the racing/sports coverage world to lend their voices to this film (as there were with previous installments in the franchise): Bob Costas (Bob Cutlass), Kyle Petty (Cal Weathers), Junior Johnson (Junior Moon), Ray Evernham (Ray Reverham), Jeff Gordon (Jeff Gorvette), Richard Petty (The King), Chase Elliott (Chase Racelot).  It is possible that I missed others, I'm not exactly a NASCAR/racing aficionado.

- I couldn't help but be amused by similarities in the plot to those in Talladega Nights: The Legend of Rickey Bobby.

Comments

  1. It's interesting that you mention Cars 3 in relation to Father's Day since this franchise started out by developing what has probably been the most overt father-figure relationship in a Pixar film to date: the one between the Owen Wilson and Paul Newman characters. One wonders if Cars 2 would have strayed so far afield from the first movie had Newman's talents still been at Pixar's disposal.

    It's also interesting that they went back to the Cars well at all, given that Cars 2 remains the studio's worst-received film. That's about when I started watching Pixar movies more sporadically, so I actually haven't seen that one despite liking the original Cars more than most. I've always thought the spy premise sounded interesting, though.

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    Replies
    1. I wouldn't say that Cars 2 is terrible, but it is a far cry from the quality of the first installment. But considering that this 3rd film doesn't reference it in any way (which I somehow managed to leave out of my review), I wouldn't recommend anyone go out of their way to see it unless they are just THAT curious.

      I have not seen all of the Pixar films - I know that I missed 2015's The Good Dinosaur, which I have heard isn't all that great either - but I would definitely put Cars 2 at the bottom of my personal ranking of Pixar films if I were to actually make one.

      I will admit that I was a bit surprised that they returned to the Cars well again before another beloved franchise like The Incredibles.

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