MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo: Walt Disney Studios
Directed by Brian Fee. Animated Feature Rated G
There is no question that children love the characters in Pixar Animation’s Cars movies. After all, here is an entire world populated with cars instead of people. You can purchase the characters and actually play with them! These little gas guzzlers are so beloved they could even survive the 113 minutes of awfulness that was 2011’s Cars 2, a misbegotten spy spoof. While I wasn’t particularly psyched for this run around the track, I was curious about which direction the franchise would take.
The good news is that Cars 3 is far superior to Cars 2 and conveniently jumps over that second installment, picking up a few laps down the road from the first film. Lightning McQueen has stopped being an egocentric jerk and is simply enjoying running races. But his winning streak is about to be ended by Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), a young up-and-comer who trains with new technology that allows him to speed up to 200 mph without breaking a camshaft.
It’s back to basics for McQueen, whose sponsor Sterling (Nathan Fillion) sends him to training camp where he is shepherded by Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), a yellow racer who considers Lightning to be her “senior project”. How will McQueen adjust to aging and the passing of the mantle to younger, better racers?
As an aging racer myself, I could relate to the themes of Cars 3, but what are these themes doing in a kid’s movie? As Lightning spends time with the grand old cars in Radiator Springs, he also listens to the voice of his mentor, Doc Hudson (Paul Newman) speaking to him from beyond the grave (or scrapyard)! Aren’t kids supposed to think they’ll live forever? Why this object lesson in mortality? I can only imagine that this film is aimed straight at Grandma or Grandpa, who may be accompanying the little tykes to the matinee, but I would think that at least half the film might produce squirming with early elementary children. (And now that I think of it, maybe Grandpa doesn’t want to think about mortality, either!)
Fortunately, the last 20 minutes of the movie are the best, with a race that is exciting and fun to watch. And it appears that all plot lines are tied up sufficiently to rule out another Cars movie. At least until the profits from the new toys come in.
Four halos: Lightning McQueen grows up and ponders his legacy, learning some good moral lessons along the way.
One pitchfork: For unnecessary nostalgia.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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