June 13th, 2017
MOVIE: CARS 3
STARRING: OWEN WILSON; CRISTELA ALONZO; CHRIS COOPER; ARMIE HAMMER
DIRECTED BY: BRIAN FEE
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
There are Pixar movies and then there is the Cars trilogy. When we look at the collection of spectacular animated films such as UP!, The Incredibles, or Inside Out, you wonder how could the same studio of those masterpieces, have also made a trilogy so strange, so lifeless as Cars? But then again, they are talking automobiles, so maybe this was the best they could do? With that said, Cars 3 is about as good as an old clunker. There’s a history there, it might get you from point A to B, but in the end, your left with a movie that ran out of gas a long time ago.
Now, I didn’t hate Cars 3, it just did nothing for me. The third installment, directed by Brian Fee, stepping out of the animation room and into the drivers seat, seems to be giving his best effort possible, attempting to find whatever magic this series once had, if it ever had any. The writing team of Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson and Mike Rich, ditch the spy plot from Cars 2, going back to the roots of Lightning McQueen’s (Owen Wilson) racing career, only this time, he is looking at his twilight days on the track. The younger and faster Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) is a new hot shot, zooming past McQueen, where the metrics of racing matter more than just speed. In an effort to stay on top, McQueen causes a disastrous wreck, sending our hero back to Radiator Springs to reflect on his career. After a few pep talks from professional cheerer-upper Sally (Bonnie Hunt), Lightening decides to give it one more run, working out with new character Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), a trainer that never got a chance to live her dreams of racing.
Cars 3 is visually colorful to look at and moves along quickly. This film does not lack in large scale sequences in the talking automobile world. Whether it’s the sumptuous winding roads or cars zipping in between tractor cows, the visuals are full of…life. During Lightning and Cruz’s training, they find themselves trapped into a demolition derby that channels the roadster scene from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, while the rest of Cars 3 feels like every Rocky-style comeback story. Sadly, Cars 3 never has characters we can care about. Lightening is having a midlife crisis, but why exactly? He’s the most famous race car ever, set for life with merchandising deals from Rust-eze sponsor and blowhard CEO Sterling (Nathan Fillion). That is something his friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) can’t say for himself. He’s still delivering terrible jokes, working in a junkyard, while every other character must coddle to poor Lightening’s hurt feelings.
The last half of Cars 3 goes through the predictable motions. The plot veers to the comeback trail, introducing us to old roadster Smokey (Chris Cooper), who attempts to help Lightening recapture the spark again, complete with training montages. The problem is, we understand that McQueen is feeling defeated and we hope he climbs back to the top, but do we really care? The film fails to ever make us worry that he won’t make it, so much, that when the film takes a turn for Cruz to become the focus of the adventure, we wonder why we wasted so much time on McQueen’s problems in the first place?
I will say, it is commendable to Pixar that they would give the best effort to make the Cars series work. This makes it official: it doesn’t. The attempt to focus on a new female centered car is a nice gesture, but it is an effort wasted, on a series I could never get behind. Cars 3 is rarely funny, with a story that elderly adults can relate to and kids won’t care about at all. When you continue to turn out original masterpieces that change our views of animated features, a movie such as Cars 3 is an obvious opportunity to sell more merchandising. Let’s just take Cars 3 to the chop shop and never make another one of these Cars movies ever again.
Written by: Leo Brady