There’s nothing quite as satisfying as witnessing something come full circle: CARS 3 offers such satisfaction. Ditching the ill-advised international espionage of CARS 2, this latest installment harkens back to the simple warm and fuzzy themes of CARS 1 – friendship, nostalgia and the cost of “progress”.
It’s been 11 years since hotshot racing car, Lightning McQueen, first revved his engine on the big screens…and Pixar are more than happy to play on his senior age status.
McQueen is no longer the rookie outmaneuvering the elder racers. Instead, he’s taken their place. Overtaken by the technologically advanced new generation vehicles, McQueen is faced with a career that is fast approaching the finish line.
Knowing he’s running on fumes, McQueen seeks new training methods in a desperate attempt to beat racing sensation Jackson Storm and avoid forced retirement.
Cue the chipper new-age trainer “Cruz” who has McQueen idling on treadmills, taking naps, talking to his tyres and doing aerobics…practically everything and anything except real racing. It’s a comedic segment, and a welcome laugh at the crazy science behind modern-day competitive sports training.
Director Brain Fee (previously a storyboard artist; this is his first turn as Director) describes the film as “a love letter to racing the American way” and this sentiment definitely comes across.
Much like the premise of CARS 1 – where the old Route 66 town of Radiator Springs was left for dead by the new motorway – CARS 3 gives a nostalgic nod to the days of racing on dirt tracks and beaches: When it was the skill, not the science, that mattered.
It’s sweet, if a little overdone.
Visually, CARS 3 is top notch. We’re talking stunning graphics that appear so real you’d be forgiven for thinking some shots weren’t animated.
With a run time just shy of 2 hours, it’s a tad long for the young kiddies that the G rating no doubt will attract. The middle stretch of plot (which is, admittedly, the most engaging for the adults) makes for a possible slump for the youngens.
CARS 3 isn’t quite as funny as other Pixar films, but it’s bitter sweet. Particularly for those in adulthood who remember watching the first film as a kid….cue the nostalgic sighs, and the mutters of “where has the time gone?”
The ending of CARS 3 is a neat finish to the franchise, with McQueen’s character arc completing a ‘full lap’. It would be more powerful if we knew this really was “the black and white checkered flag” for CARS, but with Pixar reps not even pretending to deny the possibility of another CARS movie in the future, it packs a little less punch than it could.
It is safe to assume, however, that McQueen himself will most likely be hanging up his lightyears… which admittedly caused a little pang in my nostalgic heart!
It looks fantastic, it’s cute, it’s fun, it’s sweet: It’s no UP or WALL-E, but then CARS has always been considered one of the weaker Pixar offerings.
I rate it 7 /10 – You can listen to our interview with Miss Fritter herself Lea DeLaria here.