Movie Review - Cars 3
This movie, presumably as the two previous, is meant to appeal to NASCAR fans or anyone in general who likes sports films, as this movie hits a lot of the same beats as a Rocky sequel. Instead of boxing, the sport in question just happens to be car racing. The Rocky Balboa of this movie is a talking car named Lightning McQueen, voiced by Owen Wilson (The Royal Tenenbaums and Midnight in Paris). Like Rocky, Lightning is a little too old for the sport. He's not as fast or as agile on the track, so there's the issue if he should retire, even though the sport is his whole world and he doesn't know what he would do if he retired.
There have been several films about retired or aging athletes. Outside of the Rocky films, most are about the aging athlete hanging on to compete one more time to prove some kind of masculinity or the idea perhaps of mind-over-matter, instead of accepting that the human body eventually wears out and shuts down. Here, the metaphor works, even though logically or in real life, an automobile doesn't quite age the same way or at least an automobile can be maintained, refurbished or even rebuilt to last longer than the lives of athletes.
Unfortunately, this movie doesn't do the character development that Toy Story 3 does, so that by the end we really feel for those involved. Maybe, it's because the stakes aren't that high. Toy Story 3 took the stakes to the level of life-and-death, as well as the end of relationships forever. This movie doesn't rise to that level. In a few films about aging athletes, what's at stake is financial livelihood, but that's not the case here either. Lightning will be fine financially. The only thing at stake for him is his pride.
Yet, his pride just doesn't seem to be enough, which is why the passing of the torch is so welcome. The movie sets up a red herring of who the torch recipient is. Pixar should get kudos for making that recipient not conform to gender or racial stereotypes that one might expect for the typical NASCAR racer. The movie could have dug more into that non-conformity. It instead skirts over it.
Rated G for all audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 42 mins.