The first Cars film won’t be at the top of anyone’s list of favourite Pixar films while Cars 2 is almost guaranteed to be at the bottom. This third film pretends that sequel never existed, switching back to what worked in the original. However, Cars 3 has a trick up its glovebox that makes this film the best of the series.
Lightning McQueen is getting old and the new generation are running laps around him. The racing world is telling him to give it all up but he’s convinced he has more in him. With the help of younger trainer Cruz Ramirez, McQueen tries to upskill using the latest tech in the hopes of proving his worth.
It sounds like things are heading towards the toxic ‘Winning is everything!’ moral, but that’s a misdirect. In its place is an even greater lesson about moving on and finding every joy in something you’re passionate about, even when the world changes around you. It also champions women, which is a good thing for any film, and a rare thing for a film aimed at young boys.
Cars 3 has a good story to tell, but the watered-down storytelling doesn’t reach the studio’s standard. There’s a noticeable slump in Pixar’s humour that include cultural stereotypes and bad puns (“Life’s a beach!”) while the number of set pieces are few and far between (unless you enjoy seeing them drive back-n-forth on a beach for a whole day). The only big moment aside from the climax is a destruction derby scene that may scare very young kids. It’s a really cool scene though, featuring one beastly flaming school bus.
I also admire this film for expressing the theme of moving on and the evils of rendering something to corporate merchandising. This series is at a good stopping point and Pixar are making damn sure Disney gets the hint.
‘Cars 3’ Movie Times | Also playing in 3D