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Review: Cars 3

Cars 3
06.12.2017
7 10

PLOT: After a brush with a younger competitor almost ends his racing career, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and a young trainer hit the road in order to regain his fighting edge – but has his time passed?

REVIEW: CARS 3 is a curious film. Always the weak link as for as Pixar movies go, the CARS series seems like little more than an excuse to sell toys. The kids love Lightening McQueen, and Pixar’s not above exploiting that, with the pre-show ads talking about all the new merchandising associated with the movie, but the kids didn’t seem to mind – even if their parent’s wallets might take a beating. When Lightning showed up on screen, I could hear kids yelling his name (or rather, “Flash McQueen” as he’s known among French-Canadian kids in Montreal), and they will no doubt love this third entry in the series.

For parents, rest assured, it’s a lot better than the spy-romp that was CARS 2, with a lot of things toned-down, including a noticeably smaller part for Larry the Cable Guy’s Mater. New director Brian Fee makes this more of a throwback to the original in that it’s about Lightning’s evolution, but it’s weird to see a car come to terms with his mortality in a kids movie – as the rules of how long cars live aren’t really explained. Much of the movie plays like a tribute to Paul Newman (who passed away in 2008), with outtakes used to recreate his part as Doc Hudson in flashbacks. His death hangs over Lightning, who has to deal with fancy hybrid upstarts like Armie Hammer’s Jackson Storm taking his place.

The first teaser made it seem like CARS 3 was going to be rather grim, with it showing Lightning being wrecked on the track, but that happens early on and you never get any shots of him really in jeopardy. When the movie picks up after the crash he’s all better. From there, it more or less becomes a road movie, as he signs with a fancy new sponsor (voiced by Nathan Fillion), and gets a spunky trainer, Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) that he takes on the road with him.

It’s kind of replay of the first movie in some respects, with Lightning now the mentor, and Cruz his pupil. The message seems to be about finding the right time to let go, an odd choice for a movie aimed at five year olds, who presumably haven’t aged with the series like the TOY STORY audience did. They try to give this more of an emotional kick, but it’s very familiar once you forget you’re watching cars, with the mentor/student relationship as predictable as can be.

Still, CARS 3 can’t help but be entertaining, as Pixar’s gotten to the point that even a not so great movie by their standards is pretty good. It’s a solid improvement over their last few sequels, CARS 2 and MONSTERS UNIVERSITY, even if it feels like a waste of their resources given how good their original films are. There’s plenty of fun to be had, with some cool casting, including Margo Martindale, Chris Cooper and Isiah Whitlock Jr (no, he doesn’t say “sheeeeeeit” in this G-rated kiddie flick) as old-timey racers, and it’s sweet to hear Newman’s voice again at key points – as it reminded me just how missed he is. It’s not top-notch Pixar, but it’s very decent.

Extra Tidbit: The PIXAR short that precedes the film, "L.O.U" is worth the price of admission alone.
Source: JoBlo.com

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