Lightning McQueen is having trouble remaining the defending champion in a racing industry where technology is catching up to the “old guard”. Will the Rust-eze crew be able to keep up with the times?
Pixar has learnt the balance of cartoon physics and animated realism. The engine tones, the look of tyre prints on the road, and the way cars powerslide around corners. These are surprisingly accurate for an animation. We all know we’re watching a cartoon, but the little details don’t go unnoticed. As with any film of the family-oriented animation genre, the story is kid friendly while the dialogue and the environments hide little jokes we adults can appreciate. In a specific scene, Lightning offers advice for driving on loose terrain that rings true in the real world.
In terms of story, nothing is groundbreaking. There’s an upset that forces characters to leave their comfort zone, a heartfelt story, a coming-of-age element and a “happily ever after”. Save for a few minor plot twists, it keeps your attention but doesn’t surprise.
The main attraction for the Cars franchise has always been the quirky anthropomorphizing of the cars. Each car’s personality and voice exemplified the origin or stereotype of the car. Luigi the Fiat 500 is Italian. Mater is basically Larry the Cable Guy in car form, who coincidentally provides the voice. Sarge is an Army Willys Jeep. Finn McMissile from Cars 2 is James Bond. Unfortunately, in Cars 3, all the new vehicles are simply cars with voices. There’s nothing unique about them. Sterling (Nathan Fillion) sounds like the smooth-talking billionaire he represents and Cruz (Cristela Alonzo) is only Latino when she says so. Neither seems to represent any real make, model or style of car, which makes them less memorable.
Cars 3 is fun to watch and fans of the first film will enjoy the return to the racing world rather than spy escapades, but I don’t see a new line of toys from this film selling nearly as well as the original characters.