Cars 3

Pixar doesn’t have many missteps in its catalogue, but for me, the Cars franchise just never had any traction. I was only just recently able to watch the films straight through, and it made me want to put the Pixar crew on suicide watch. Thanks to films like Toy Story, I already knew Pixar had a real nostalgia fixation, but Cars crystallizes that notion. MV5BZDRiYmQ1MjgtNmNiOS00YTNhLTkwNWMtMjliNWFkYmFkMDc2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjk2MjI2NTY@._V1_The Pixar animators are living for the past. But for the first time, I could also watch the film through the eyes of my Β 5 year old nephew. He and his younger brother adore the franchise. They have every iteration of every car that got even a fraction of a second’s worth of screen time. Last year for his birthday, I made him a Cars racetrack cake. So even before I’d truly seen the film, I had a kinship with it.

In this third installment, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) hits the racing circuit once again, but it’s been 11 years since the first film made its debut. McQueen isn’t the hot shot rookie anymore, he’s a veteran being challenged by faster, sleeker next generation race cars. Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) is the fiercest of these new competitors, but McQueen isn’t ready to be counted out. Unfortunately, McQueen’s best efforts result in a terrible crash that many believe spells his retirement. You may remember from the first film that his old friend Doc (Paul Newman) suffered a similar fate: by the time he’d healed up\gotten road-worthy again, the racing world had moved on without him, ultimately forcing him into retirement before he was ready.

Two things about what I’ve just written: One, that crash was spectacularly animated. Disney-Pixar’s animation technology has clearly improved by leaps and bounds over the past decade. They work hard to keep the cars we know and love looking like themselves MV5BZGYxZDVjM2EtMWRiMi00MWNlLWE3YWItZTYyNDcwMjQ4NjY3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjc3Mzk1NTk@._V1_while still improving the overall quality of the animation. The crash scene is a show-stopper. But, second, so too are flash-back scenes of McQueen and his friend Doc, in a different, more emotional way. Paul Newman, who voiced him, passed away in 2008, and so did the character by the time the sequel came out. But Doc was a formative figure in McQueen’s career, and Cars 3 pays tribute to both the character and the actor in a very satisfying way.

Cars 3 focuses on McQueen’s relationship with a new trainer, Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), who is well-versed in all the newest techniques. Old school clashes with new school. In fact, watching it, I wondered if McQueen’s mid-life crisis would resonate with the kids watching it. My nephew certainly enjoyed it, though I don’t think he picked up on McQueen’s fear of being aged out\replaced. What he did like were the repetitive race track scenes, many of which I could have done without. I guess what it boils down to is: Cars 3 panders to its audience. It does not reach the heights we adults have come to expect from Pixar’s best work, but it’s exceptionally talented at marketing toys to children. There are dozens of new characters (65 to be exact) to be bought for Christmas. Is that cynical of me? Sure. Here’s the thing: I admit I was charmed by the ending, glad old McQueen had it in him. If this is the end of the franchise, it’s a pretty noble note to go out on. But as a cynical, toy-buying aunt, I can’t help but feel that this Cruz character has the whiff of spin-off to her, and I’m not convinced that Cars 3 bought into its own message of retiring with dignity.

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25 thoughts on “Cars 3

  1. badblokebob

    I don’t think it’s cynical to see all the new characters as toy opportunities, I think it’s realistic — they expressly admitted the sequel only came about because the toys from the first film sold so well, and I’m pretty sure that’s why the spin-offs and this exist, too. I wouldn’t be that surprised if Disney have Pixar keep making these movies for the rest of time…

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  2. Katrina Morrison

    I know what you mean by the cynical view for the toys. I feel that way about all of the movies for children. As far as I am concerned, the “magic” died around the time Disney, himself died. But, when you wrote about “Doc” a part of me was very touched. There must be some magic left after all 😊
    I would love to see a pic of that cake you madeπŸŽ‚

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  3. Sarah Ferguson and Choppy

    We went to see this for my nephew’s third birthday (the 10:30 AM showing, because kids) – and he already had numerous cars that first appeared in this movie before he’d seen it. He definitely loved the movie, and I know my SIL appreciated that there was no specific statement that Doc had died (and thus an awkward conversation, likely in the middle of the movie, was avoided).

    As for me, well, it was fine but nothing special – though I did like all the references to old race car drivers, plus some voices done by the current new kids on the NASCAR block (they voiced the new generation cars). You wouldn’t have known if you don’t watch NASCAR, but it was a fun little inside bit of information for those who watch.

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  4. onceuponablog2015

    I haven’t seen cars 3 yet but the franchise is my least favourite from Pixar. I actually preferred cars 2 simply because McQueen had less camera time lol I want to retire him myself! And I totally agree with you on the merch. I worked as a cast member at The Disney Store when cars 2 was released and kids go mad for the toys! And then they did that spin off films “planes” which was definitely to make money on toys – just like the toy story shorts were (although they were actually funny). 😊

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  5. tubularsock

    Great review Jay. Tubularsock has never seen any CAR movies. Nor Toy Story. Nostalgia isn’t Tubularsock’s thing, in fact, look what happened to Lot’s wife. “Don’t look back”! That being said Pixar’s animation technology is incredible and you are correct that plastic toy crap for Christmas will be up BUT one’s doesn’t have to by that plastic crap for their children!
    In fact, if one doesn’t buy Cars for Christmas, the kid will shoplift it, get arrested, go to prison, and then the state will handle paying for your kids room and board. Think of the savings.

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  6. fragglerocking

    Well I did enjoy the first one, seen with my grandson, but never saw the 2nd, and things have moved on now so not bothered about this one either, cool review though and as Doc was my fave I’m glad his spirit lives on. πŸ™‚

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  7. Kerry E.B. Black

    Something bothered me about this film. The demoralizing way Cruz trained Lightning was little better than the racetrack banter from the rookies. In fact, I wondered if she was planted to undermine him at first. The ending was satisfactory, though, and my 7 year old enjoyed it.

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  8. J.

    I’ve seen the first one and it didn’t have the same appeal as much of the Pixar flicks. I guess it’s the movie that pays for the other movies given the popularity of the toys and suchlike.

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  9. Chris Scott

    I thought the first was ok. The second not so much. And I’m glad my kids have aged out of the target demo. I’ll probably see it at some point but then again, I keep saying that about Monsters University.

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  10. The Whitechapel Whelk

    We held a board metting last night and the overwhelming consensus was that this blog has the best name on WordPress by some considerable margin.
    There is no cash reward for this however.
    Thanks for reading this.
    Kind Regards
    Team Whelk

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      1. The Whitechapel Whelk

        I can’t believe you’re so hungry for fame. I also can’t believe that you didn’t haul my London ass over the coals for misspelling “meeting” in my initial comment.
        What kind of assholes watching movies are you guys exactly?!
        Why I outta…

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  11. Birgit

    I still haven’t seen any of these films and have no desire to. I think I am evil when thinking about the old car voiced by Paul Newman. I think of the lead talking to another and saying “You don’t want to end up like our old friend” and then we see a square box of metal because the car has been placed into that car squeeze machine

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  13. Divorce With Me

    πŸ™„ Another one my kids were just not interested in. I just feel like if a kid is not jazzed about it, I sure as hell am not dishing out $15-$20 per person on a cartoon I’d probably be sleeping through! Again, so sorry you had to take one for us… lol

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  14. Pingback: Cars 3 β€” ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES – The Falor Companies – Falor Group

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