Let’s get this right out there. I hate the original Cars film. To say I loathe it is an understatement that I can’t state enough. After years of building up a great, heart felt brand with movies like Toy Story, the Incredibles and even A Bugs Life, Cars was just a turn in the wrong direction for the company. People still loved it, and kids wanted the toys. That’s probably the reason that the equally stupid Cars 2 was made. While that movie was just as bad as the first, they took a great concept and played with it, as “The Man Who Knew Too Little” took animated form. Mater was a spy. Oh lord, it was so silly that it actually worked on some levels. It introduced more toys, and even a horrible spinoff with Planes.
Now comes Cars 3. More silly NASCAR references, and more “GIT R DONE”….right? Surprisingly, no. Where Cars 1&2 went out of their way to be extremely silly, and was all about the egos of the two main characters, Cars 3 went and did something unexpected. They made a great movie about car racing. They actually made a movie about legends, and the refusal to just fade away. Dare I say it, they made a Pixar movie.
The film opens with Lightning McQueen at the top of his game. Unlike the previous movies, where he has something to prove and all the ego in the world, McQueen is winning races, hanging with his friends and having fun. He’s enjoying what he does, and enjoying being in a family like atmosphere. It’s not until “Next Gen” racers come into play, who are all about winning, and pretty much driving out the older racers that things get serious. It all results in a huge wreck, the one that you’ve seen on all the trailers. McQueen is down for the count, but is out? He retreats to Radiator Springs where he has to rediscover himself, and pretty much get his reason for racing back, or find a new one.
The highlights here are the new characters in the film, with Cristela Alonzo turning in an inspired performance as Cruz Ramirez. Not only is this new character a strong female role, it’s also a great turn for a Latina actor in a series that is traditionally filled with stereotypical parodies of characters. The only thing here is her love for the sport that she’s training racers for. There’s also Ms. Fritter, a demolition derby school bus that audiences are going to love.
At the core, the film is a kids version of Days of Thunder. It’s all about finding out who you really are, and what makes you happy, even if it’s at the sacrifice of who you think you were. Being older doesn’t mean your dreams end. We all have dreams, and Cars 3 tells us that it’s okay if it doesn’t turn out the way we hoped. Find another dream, and keep racing towards it, no matter how old you get.
Cars 3 is a great sentimental peace of film making that finally feels like it wasn’t made to just sell toys. I mean, the toys are going to fly off the shelves, but maybe this time they’ll fly off the shelves as well.
Cars 3 hits theaters this Friday.