Despite what Pixar wants you to believe, ‘Cars 3’ is not really the third installment of the successful series of cash cows, it is actually the second film that took a decade to make. This might sound confusing, but ‘Cars 2’ didn’t really exist; what you saw before this film was actually a rough screen test that was accidentally released to the public before they made changes. “Why does the ‘3’ exist in the title?”, you may ask. I could answer that by saying that the studio realized too little too late that the damage had already been done, and what was called “Cars 2” at the time was already released, so they decided to slap the number 3 in the title. I’m not even sure I should call this movie “Cars 3”, but I will just play Pixar’s game and, try as I might, to call it what it was marketed as. (However, I should have listened to the man I happened to overhear call it “Cars 2” when I was paying for my ticket; he knew what was going on.)
‘Cars 2’, er… I mean… ‘3’ is a true sequel to ‘Cars’, and takes us back to the racetrack where race car Lightning McQueen (Voice of Owen Wilson) is getting ready to win his next race against a slew of new and technologically advanced race cars. Taking inspiration from his mentor, the late Doc Hudson, while reminiscing about old times with the gone-too-soon Hudson Hornet (in sentimental flashbacks meant to pay tribute to Hudson’s late voice actor Paul Newman, which feel too late.). McQueen may be past his prime, but he is determined to be the best at his game. His egotistical nature may have toned down, but his persistence sure hasn’t. He also has help from his friends from Radiator Springs, including best friend Mater (Voice of Larry the Cable Guy), and girlfriend Sally (Voice of Bonnie Hunt). It isn’t until he has a run-in with a new egotistical race car named Jackson Storm (Voice of Armie Hammer), who tends to talk to his opponent in order to slow them down, where his determination leads to an accident (in a scene that could prove to be too intense for not only younger children, but for the film’s G-rating.) From then on, Lightning decides to go to the recently bought Rust-Eze training center and enters a facility with simulations taught by Cruz Ramirez (Voice of Cristela Alonzo), a spunky race technician who berates him constantly for being “an old-timer”, yet proves to be less of an annoyance and more of a compelling character, who has dreams of being a race car like Lightning.
‘Cars 3’ is as simple as you can get with a sequel that has a goal of making money and selling merchandise. Pixar knows what it is doing and even adds a subtle nod at its true intentions with the franchise. (There is a scene where Lightning McQueen discovers his own merchandise to prove that fact.) Even some of the quotes feel like a meeting of Pixar executives when coming up with the idea for this sequel (“I’ll decide when I’m done.”), yet I can assure you that the studio is close to being done with sequels (So no ‘A Bugs’ Life 2′ then? That’s cool, then.) ‘Cars 3’ does have more heart than expected. ‘Cars 3’ deals with someone from an older generation trying to keep up with the changing times as old style makes way for new style; eventually, a torch is passed as each generation comes to light.
If that isn’t enough, then you can give Pixar credit for keeping up its style of detailed and beautiful animation that feels as sleek and slippery as Lightning McQueen’s new look in the film.