Click here to see how this ranks up with the rest of Pixar's films.
Three movies and countless Mater-shorts later, I still want to know how a world inhabited by live automobiles could exist with our own landmarks. Following from the previous installments, Cars 3 wants me to believe older cars are made of older models, and newer cars are made of newer models, never mind their biology of reproduction. But now it wants me to believe crabs live on their beaches. It even continues to parody itself by putting up “re-tire-ment” ads on the freeway.
Even by the standards of Pixar’s nonsensical world, it still makes no sense. Each act felt increasingly made up on the spot throughout production, with a phoned-in self-contradicting message thrown in last minute. This stated logic just raises more questions than answers, like, why does such a franchise exist from a studio made famous for telling emotive stories for a new generation of storytellers? Yet, as long as parents know about the “good messages” of their kids’ programs, we can rest easy at night, right?
Well, the third installment could rightfully replace that bad James Bond parody’s mere existence, for it returns to the contrast between old and new ways of living driven by the first movie.
Lightning McQueen starts a new rivalry against a younger, newer racer who aspires to be better than him. Now Lightning has become the veteran about to finish his last race alongside a popular rookie, a direct role reversal from where he started. It parallels how the sports industry always worked: it brings in newer, younger racers who trained via virtual reality simulators. It does get a bit funny to see the contrast between old and new sport traditions, such as when Lightning meets his new trainer, Cruise, in preparation for his race against these high-tech cars. She makes him feel out of touch against the changing times, and he makes her feel inept for driving on a beach. Lightning’s old mentor Doc Hudson also gets a more proper tribute than the previous movie. The addition of this mentorship legacy adds a strong common ground to meet between all viewers.
Pixar’s team has always mastered intergenerational stories the whole family can enjoy, and now they mastered making movies no generation can enjoy. I mean it: a little girl next to me in the theater kept impatiently getting off her seat. Another 9-ish year old boy, who falls under the target demographic, made a bit of noise too.
As for the older viewers, some of the remnants of Pixar’s glory days of innovating animation could still please. But compared to Disney’s latest achievements, the animation quality here looks so lackluster, you could mistake any frame here with a frame captured from either of the two previous installments. Look at Pixar’s other visual splendors: Finding Nemo, WALL-E, and Up, there is currently a real lack of care about keeping up to date on the animation trends.
Cars 3 attempts to entertain the older folks and younger folks at once, which in turn leaves each of them equally bored. Kids have no care about what racing was like in the 1950’s, nor would parents pay to see a display of high-tech cars. Good quality humor cannot be found here, including silly childish humor fit for eight-year-olds, particularly by the now nearly absent Mater. Maybe a brief, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” joke could land, except we already moved on from Life Alert’s contagious catch phrase.
To top it off, the Cars franchise continues its reputation of offending minority groups outside of US sports by tossing in a demolition derby for no real reason other than to make that culture look unappealing. Oh, believe me, it gets worse. For no reason whatsoever, Luigi and Guido, the two Italian cars from Lightning’s little small-town home, the most culturally insensitive characters from the first movie, join Lightning in his high-tech training. Again, these two amicos offer no comic relief, moral support or anything else. The only reason I can think of for their prevalence is to make the American cars look better in comparison.
Despite what the half-hearted messages want parents to think, the merchandising proves that Cars 3 carries no hard opinions about the old way of doing things. Think: how many of these sold spinoff toys look like older car models? Although it proves the craftiness of Disney: their marketing utilizes nostalgic throwbacks for the parents, guaranteeing a higher emotional response from the buyers. The kids who are sold into Pixar’s franchise deserve better than a confused, phoned in commercial.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Adams, Sam. “A still from Cars 3.” Digital image. Slate. Panoply. Web. <http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/movies/2017/06/cars_3_the_new_movie_from_pixar_reviewed.html>.
Cars. Disney. Web. <http://cars.disney.com/>.
“Italian translation of 'friend'.” Collins. Web. <https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english-italian/friend>.