Cars 3 is rated G and is in theaters June 16, 2017.
1 – Back To Basics
Unlike the hotshot egotistical young racer that Lightning Mcqueen (Owen Wilson) was in the first Cars, Cars 3 sees Lightning as a well-respected championship racer who is not only revered by his fellow competitors but adored by fans. However, he is blindsided by a new group of younger, faster, stronger, and better looking racers who push Lighting out of the sport he loves. So when a near career-ending crash forces Lighting to come face with the fact that he cannot racer forever.
So when Sterling (Nathan Fillion), a billionaire who buys the Rust-eze brand, comes in to help reestablish his brand, Lightning believes that it could regain some of that confidence he after his crash. With the help of the eager Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), who has racing aspirations of her own, Lightning finds out that the training that the NextGen racers are using doesn’t work for him. So he goes back to basics by training on the dirt tracks that made his former mentor, Doc Hudson (the late Paul Newman) the championship racer that he was.
2 – We Can Help Each Other
The trouble with Lightning realizing that Cruz’s training isn’t working for him is that he is overlooking her experiences and training as a racer herself. Of course, Cruz didn’t want to grow up to be a trainer, and she tells him that she had dreams of becoming a racer herself and tells Lighting that she used to watch him when she was younger. So despite going against what she thinks is best, Lighting lets her tag along on his journey of self-discovery.
During that time Lightning starts to see her potential and she starts to realize her own. Though that may be a little problematic, everyone needs that push to realize their own greatness. No matter the gender, we all can help each other achieve full potential. So while it could use a little work, the message still gets across.
3 – Cars Can Be Silly
Though there are some heavy themes in the film, Pixar never forgets to entertain its audiences with some lighthearted fun. And a lot of that comes through in the second act when a racing track that Lightning and Cruz thought they were going to turns out to be a demolition derby. For all the training that Lightning goes through before hand, its nice to see him cut loose. But Cruz is also stuck in the same mud, and when Miss Fritter (Lea DeLaria) comes crashing into the competition, the fun gets kicked up a notch.
4 – Heartpounding Set Pieces
With Pixar, you are never going to get shortchanged on animation. It doesn’t matter if it’s the setting or the characters, the animators put in 110% into their work. Everything looks gorgeous. The characters look alive and relatable, even if they are just cars with eyes, mouth, and a tailpipe. Regardless of what the characters look like, they possess a sense of humanity that allows them to connect to the audience. Making their struggles and victories that much more personal. But as sleek as the characters look, the settings look all the more real.
There’s tangibility to the settings. The racing tracks are gritty and rough, and the dirt sitting on it rumbles as the racers battle to take the lead. During the beach training sequel, we see Cruz struggle to training on sand, something she isn’t accustomed to doing having trained in high-tech facilities. Here, she either spins out or gets “eaten” by the beach as she sinks into it. Then there’s the demolition derby sequence where Cruz and Lighting find out wet dirt isn’t as easy to race on.
5 – It finally feels like a real Pixar movie
Cars has never really gotten the respect that most Pixar films have gotten in the past. In fact, most would say that the Cars franchise is the weakest in Pixar’s library. Which is easy to say when compared to the likes of Toy Story, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Wall-E, and Inside Out. As aforementioned, Pixar’s animation in every one of their films is top notch, even for the Cars franchise. But the two films have thin narratives, even though their hearts are in the right place, Cars never really was the strongest of Pixar films.
But Cars 3 has real emotion to it. It’s a film that every person can connect to because of its mid-life crisis story and dreamers themes. It teaches us to never overlook anyone’s help, regardless of their gender or age. Though Cruz’s arc could have been a bit stronger and better handled. Still, with gorgeous animation and a well-intentioned story, Cars 3 is finally a Cars film everyone can look forward to seeing.