Cars 3 review
Pixar is back in theaters to bring life to areas we normally don’t see it in…so…yay! It happens to be a third Cars movie…so…yay? I’ve spoken with a lot of film and animation fanatics who don’t see the Cars series as anything worth mentioning. It’s spoken around circles as only kids entertainment and a way to sell a ton of toys (Disney has made over a billion on the Cars toys alone). Is it worth a lot of the backlash? Though there is some nostalgic value over the original Cars, as I consider it the last animated movie from my childhood before going to college, I think people have gotten too harsh on it.
It may not have the same emotional impact of Toy Story, Up, and Inside Out, but when I saw Cars, I thought it was a nice tribute to those small towns on Route 66 and heartfelt look at NASCAR racing. The sequel, Cars 2 is where a lot of the anger is stired up for the series. That went from small town heart to a spy story and put too much focus on Larry the Cable Guy. It’s not that good and this is what people try to use when they justify why they don’t like Cars. Let’s see if Cars 3 can make that U-turn.
Lightning McQueen (played by Owen Wilson), who was once the rookie, is now in a loosing streak, thanks to the younger Jackson Storm (played by Armie Hammer). He, along with several new racers, cause the older racers to either be let go or retire. Lightning does his best to keep up, but within the last race of the season, he ends up in a horrible crash that mirrors his late mentor, Doc Hudson.
Though he contemplates retirement, Lightening tells his sponsors that he’d still like to race, but needs to train in a new way. He arrives at the newly built training center to discover that the business is now owned by Sterling (played by Nathan Fillion). He’s introduced to his trainer Cruz Ramirez (played by Cristela Alonzo) who wants him to use all the latest gadgets like VR and simulators. Lightning considers that while noticing that Cruz is actually pretty good at racing herself. Nevertheless, Lightning gets as much advice as he can from her, Doc Hudson’s old crew chief Smokey (played by Chris Cooper), and his Radiator Springs friends like Mater (played by Larry the Cable Guy) and Sally (played by Bonnie Hunt).
It seems that the folks at Pixar heard the complaints about Cars 2 and took the story back to the NASCAR racing roots. This one plays out a lot like Rocky III, where the hero is hurt and needs to find that drive (or the eye of the tiger). For the case of Cars 3, it works fine enough to make it a good sequel. I can’t say it’s great, but I can’t imagine what great things you can do with this set up.
As far as the story is concerned, it’s not the most original, but it does allow for some good side trips (including a fun sequence at a demolition derby) and a nice sequence that talks more about Doc Hudson. It also addresses the issue of racers getting older and facing the pressure from fellow racers and sponsors to retire. It’s never fun to hear to your getting older, but we even get a good conversation about what can make you happy with what you do. It certainly does feel the most emotional Cars has gotten, though it’s still not as hard hitting as Inside Out.
I can’t say too much about the animation, which does look good, but it’s what we’ve come to expect Pixar to do. Voice acting is about the same as all the previous players do just as well as before (Larry the Cable Guy has a much smaller role, probably in response to his overuse in Cars 2) and the newcomers are likable, especially Cristela Alonzo.
I’ll give this four Lightning McQueens out of five. Though it’s a nice return to form, I don’t have a lot to say about Cars 3 other then it’s closer to the original and probably just as good. Film fans that want that same emotional punch that Inside Out and Up gave are not going to get it here. If you didn’t like the previous movies, your not going to be won over here. But if the first one entertained you, you’ll get what your looking for. Consider your position, and race to check it out.