Cars 3 was sort of reflective, for me at least! When Lightning McQueen sped onto the scene for the first time in 2006, he really made waves. I honestly don’t remember seeing that much merchandise for one Pixar movie. Ever. That little red speedster was everywhere.
The first movie revolved around top racer McQueen getting lost in Radiator Springs on his way to the Piston Cup, and when he meets Doc Hudson, the greatest racer of all time, he realizes that family and loved ones really take precedence over getting to the race.
The second movie didn’t strike as hot as the first-circling around Mater and some evil spies, but had McQueen and friends traveling the world to different races and struggling with people trying to take him down.
The third piece of the pie had a great storyline, and I think the message behind it was on the same path as the first but even deeper and more poignant. Definitely more of a classic.
The film revolves around McQueen (Owen Wilson) feeling down about his age. He keeps getting beat by newer racing models, including Jackson Storm who slowly scoots in and begins to break all of McQueen’s records. Even the press seems to be getting down on McQueen and even wanting him to lose. Those classic mean spirited henchmen, I would call them.
I mean, you can’t not love Lightning McQueen and we’ve spent years seeing him as the best. So it was sad to see him struggle while these other cars were leaving him in the dust. For a while I began to think, wow, is McQueen really getting too old to race? Prepare to feel those feels that you only feel during a Pixar classic.
He goes through a journey where he really looks into himself-remembering Doc Hudson’s word to him and takes advice from Mater and sponsor Rusteze, to go to a training center. At the center he meets Cruz (Cristela Alonzo) who is a go-getter trainer working with all the top car models, and is assigned to McQueen.
After putting him through the ringer, he seems to fail on all the new-fangled simulators and treadmills that cars are using at the facility. Another car even jokes about him being old and rickety, and having a “Drip Pan” under him during a stretching exercise. This is where they almost tell McQueen that his racing career is ending, which is a pretty tough thing to swallow. It explores the scary message of experiencing age and wondering if he should move to a new stage of his life. He luckily talks the facility into one more chance, letting him get his hands (tires) dirty. He and Cruz take their training session to the beach and end up learning a lot more about each other than they planned.
One of the best aspects is that the film is focused on its racing roots. We get to see some races done by some really beautiful new cars. I will never get over the ability of Pixar to make Cars into such relatable characters. I almost wanted to be one too! Comic relief is also a plenty, with some cute jokes sprinkled through. There is a Demolition Derby that I have to mention, which involved a Big Bertha type character who made me feel unsettled, and also steals the show for about 5 minutes.
McQueen was introduced to us as a bit arrogant and conceited in the first film. Without giving too much away, his personal journey becomes something pretty amazing at the end. So everything really does come full circle. If this is the last movie in the Cars franchise, I would feel that it came to an appropriate close, and I think those little cars fans who fell in love with McQueen in 2006 will be pretty pleased with it too. I bet they shed some tears.
Overall, I really enjoyed Cars 3, and I went into it feeling like I might feel otherwise. Great job Disney. This one got me.
Let us know what you think of the film. It hits theaters on Friday.
Shannon Toohey is Editor-In-Chief of FanFest.com. She graduated from Hofstra University in 2015 with a B.A. in Journalism from the Lawrence Herbert School of Communications. Shannon has been a proud member of the Fan Fest team since 2013. Tweet her in your prettiest bird voice: @shannontoo