I’ll admit that I wasn’t drawn to what could be best described as Pixar’s least likable franchise. The Cars franchise, however was kept alive thanks to its combined $1 billion gross at the global box office. This is in part that some movies are made for merchandising and the Disney machine worked hard for it on Cars, this also includes several spin-offs, straight to tv shows and rentals which make the cost of the entire Cars Franchise worth it. Cars 3 now aims to top that, by gathering a new audience that seems to working in 2017 and that’s women.Pixar decided that it was time to deliver a story that synced better with Cars 1 more than pick it off from Cars 2. It went as far as to acknowledge tongue in cheek that Cars 2 didn’t exist. This new story was far more relatable, relevant and surprisingly spectacular visually to the point it pays homage for the love of circuit racing. With age, the characters have matured as well and engage with the audience better considering the amount of emotions they face and all of the voice actors reflect this change so well! While the film sets up a big finale from the beginning, it does surprise with the usual candor I expect from a Pixar production.Cars 3 features Owen Wilson as the voice of the legendary Lightning McQueen, who is blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers including next-gen racer Jackson Storm, voiced by Armie Hammer and is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he needs the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez, voiced by Cristela Alonzo, with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Kerry Washington voices statistical analyst Natalie Certain, Nathan Fillion provides the voice of brilliant business car Sterling, Lea DeLaria lends her voice to formidable school bus Miss Fritter, and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton helps bring voice command assistant Hamilton to life.
Unable to match their speed or maneuverability, Lightning gets the choice to retire or risk seeing his legacy crash and burn simply because he’s outclassed at every turn and his age has started to show. Lightning is forced to train in secret to avoid the media circus and find a way to beat Storm and the newer generation of racers. He’s the underdog again and this film addresses everything from a loser’s perspective and what it means to doubt yourself. Ultimately what Pixar does during this journey is to make you realize about dreams and what it means to be realistic after you’ve achieved them. The entire journey revolves around Lightning understanding this.Cruz Ramirez is the young female trainer at the high-tech facility where Lightning goes after his initial losses to the new generation race cars. While as a new character she’s a textbook book smart driver who’s not too shabby herself, it dawn on Lightning whose journey this race is all about, this is where I started to see the Cars franchise really mature. This isn’t Lightning’s journey to save his career, it’s about him supporting Cruz’s. Racing has been a male dominated sport and to some degree it still is but what Cars 3 does is finally be inclusive of women in the world of racing, there will be key points of Cruz being told to “dream small or not at all” or that she doesn’t look like a racer.
There’s moments of nostalgia too where Lightning interacts with older racers of legends from different eras that explain how racing was segregated before there was someone who changed the game. Cars 3 actually starts painting a bigger picture of the world that’s filled with struggle in a colourful blur of a racing world. The fact Lightning gets this early on puts the idea in the audience’s head that something will change and when it plays out eventually it feels gracious. This could potentially resonate with younger audiences who are looking for a motivational streak and that will definitely come in Cars 3. That’s coming from a skeptic who believes the Cars franchise exists solely to sell toys.
Cars 3 is for kids but there’s some maturity shown and the dialogue will even make the most hardened of adults at least giggle. Cars seems to care about something more than personal glory and it’s a joy to see Owen Wilson voice a character who’s no longer cocky. A franchise that’s now conscious of why it truly exists in the greater context of what it means to race. There’s a loud and clear message, don’t underestimate people who are cut from a different cloth who try to help others. The need to make room for someone who have a lot to prove and finally a message that women are equally as great as their male counterparts and they’re the real winners in this movie.
And to that effect, Cars 3 is the best of the trilogy, a refreshing humorous story with lots of heart, one that both your family and the child in you will enjoy.