Cars 3 is the third installment to Disney Pixar’s revhead franchise that gives a fresh take on an well spun tale of friendship and survival. A world of planes, trains and automobiles was so infectious that it spawned a sequel (2012) and two spinoff (2013 and 2015). Directed by Brian Fee, it reverses back to what made the original so great.
Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is the seasoned racer who must fight to stay relevant as younger, slicker cars with better modifications threaten to push him out of the sport he loves. His usual pit crew of Sally (Bonnie Hunt), Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) Luigi (Tony Shalhoub) drive alongside him, with new rival Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer, as devilish as ever) and trainer turned racer hopeful Cruz (Cristela Alonzo-Angry Birds Movie) who is implicitly excluded from her passion because of her gender thrown into the obstacle course.What begins as a simple race to recovery merges into a real examination in how disposable our older athletes are, and how abruptly we pressure them into retiring. It’s Rocky meets the Wrestler, with a self awareness that almost acknowledges that it borrows with these movies with the classic line “life’s a beach, then you drive.”
That’s not to say it puts a dent in the young faces of the movie.
Animation is simply stunning, although it is farcical at times how cars can double up as racing machines, bugs in the windshield, and “tractor-tipping cows.” This adds to the cute, charming tone that focuses more on nostalgia and the sweet sense of discovering a hobby that you thought you left behind. Perhaps not as funny as its predecessors, more of the mentor/protege (wax on/wax off) mentality is set into gear, resulting in what seems like a fitting end to a journey with a final upheaval on what is expected of these “passing the baton” movies.
Unless we called this movie too early, in which case we’d say buckle up for Cars 4.