Release Date: June 16, 2017
Director: Brian Fee
Writer: Brian Fee, Ben Queen, Eyal Podell, Jonathan E. Stewart, Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson, Mike Rich
Cast: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Nathan Fillion, Larry the Cable Guy, Armie Hammer, Ray Magliozzi, Tony Shalhoub, Bonnie Hunt, Lea DeLaria, Kerry Washington, Bob Costas, Margo Martindale, Darrell Waltrip, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Bob Peterson, Guido Quaroni, Tom Magliozzi, John Ratzenberger, Kyle Petty, Lewis Hamilton, Llyod Sherr, Junior Johnson, Ray Evernham, Paul Newman, Cheech Marin, Humpy Wheeler, Katherine Helmond, Paul Dooley, Jenifer Lewis, Shannon Spake
MPAA Rating: G
Runtime: 109 minutes
Production Company: Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Back in 2016, Pixar made one of the most memorable animations in quite some time with Cars. It was full of heart and passion that made you feel like a better soul after watching it. Cars 2 wasn’t as well received as its predecessor by both critics and fans from all around. While I did think it was a step down, I still had some fun with it. This steady decline continues with Cars 3, to the point you can’t nearly wait until it’s all over. It’s not clear what’s going on with the studio as of late, not possessing the same magic story telling they had when Toy Story was on the minds of everyone. Though it may have to do with them being acquired by Disney several years ago. While the story isn’t the best, the characters still are, but that’s not enough to motivate you to see it. So with Cars now being a trilogy, it would’ve been better off if this franchise stopped why it still had full air in its tires.
Lighting McQueen (Owen Wilson) is back, still having a joy for racing. Though like the inevitable always comes to hunt you down, it’s out with the old and in with the new. This is the dilemma McQueen faces as he doesn’t decide himself that he’s done with racing, he’s told he’s done. This arc is what fuels the film to carry on, but the execution is quite shallow. McQueen faces a new talent on the tracks named Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), and he’s met his match which may be his last. So it’s up to him to show what he can do for one last season. At this point, this film is as predictable as the sun rising on the next day. Beat by beat you’re able to pick out the next plot points, and it gets tiresome as each scene plays out. As the film continues on with familiar tropes of training in a new high tech facility, it’s the same of dry of the mill. What saves it is the inclusion of Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), with her bright yellow paint that brightens up the room. Her character is well versed in motivating others, which makes her screen time some of the best in the film. She’s humble and knowledgeable, yet still has a lot to learn, and it’s fun taking witness to her actions.
Though where the film missed an opportunity for greatness comes from not delving in deep into Jackson Storm’s character. You only see him at the beginning and ending of the film during racing, but never get to know him personally. While the script painted him as the bad guy, I don’t agree. He’s just another racer who wants to win, but we’re never told what motivates him. It’s just a generic fill in of a role, because like most films there has to be an antagonist. As you’re checking the time on your watch, Smokey (Chris Cooper) comes unto the scene. He’s the spark that’s needed on screen to let the audience know no matter the outcome everything is going to be ok. I appreciated his patience and wisdom throughout the film. He’s a caring old soul and won’t hold back on the criticism either.
With each film in this franchise spread so far apart, at times it was difficult to remember old cues from past films that are brought up for substance. While I enjoyed the first film thoroughly, and liked the 2nd, they’re hard to remember. So when certain names and land marks were dropped it didn’t pack the punch the writing team possibly had in store. This film is also marketed as an adventure, action comedy, this is an animation by default. The action during the training is fine, but nothing spectacular. The comedy of the film is the biggest misfire. I only chuckled a total of three times in the film, and if you’re able to count that, it is a vivid display of how dry the overall picture is. They’re a few standout moments, but in the end nothing special at all. It’s just a lazy attempt to make a sequel, possibly due to the studio running out of ideas.
Unless you know the cast personally, there’s nothing to excited about to motivate a viewing of this film. The climax is stale, with no real start to even begin with. Then in the final showdown, all that came before with training and preparation is passed on to another figure, making the previous scenes a waste of time. I wanted to see a race for the ages, but instead the ending of the film isn’t epic. Rather, it is a poor excuse to not hurt the character’s feelings, not praising real winners, but rewarding involvement through lame participation trophy-like celebrations.