Probably one of John Lasseter’s most cherished Disney Pixar franchises, the animated universe exclusively made of talking automobiles is getting a third (and most likely final) installment this Friday with Cars 3.
Overseen by first-time director Brian Fee, the opus focuses on a new part of famous racing car Lightning McQueen’s (Owen Wilson) career: Its inevitable end.
As the movie’s story goes, McQueen finds himself struggling to get back on the winner’s podium after suffering from a terrible crash following his attempt to beat a new generation of high tech racers led by the young Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). Refusing to retire after the accident, McQueen begins to train with race technician and wannabe racing car, Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), while trying to prove his new sponsor owner, Sterling (Nathan Fillion), that he’s more than just a brand…
Although with Toy Story 3 Pixar managed to prove that sequels can be just as good (if not better) as first installments, Cars is no Toy Story – as proved by the first 2 chapters of the series, which were not bad, but never boasted the same emotional appeal as Inside Out or even Monsters, Inc.
But could Cars 3 change all that? That’s what we’re here to find out…
An inoffensive, friendly movie
Whether audiences and critics consider it a good or bad quality, Cars 3 turns out to be a pretty stable and loyal extension of McQueen’s adventures but not one that takes them to a higher level. “There’s nothing particularly wrong with Cars 3, but there’s also nothing that shows the franchise has found a new gear.”
Bringing back the people’s favorite characters (even Doc Hudson, played by the late Paul Newman), Pixar stays true to what led it to create the franchise in the first place with “a much better model than the misaligned spy adventure that was Cars 2,” putting the series “back on track.” “It feels like it has been conceived and directed, with scrupulous love and affection […] “for the fans.”
Eventually, “if you can roll with it, the movie is both breezy fun and a pain-free life lesson delivery vehicle.”
Not the deepest movie made by Pixar, but one with themes that count
While everyone can agree that Cars 3 doesn’t play in the big leagues, it contains, along with numerous entertaining set pieces, important themes such as mentorship, female empowerment, and teamwork, reinforcing “Pixar’s belief that collaboration is the most important lesson its characters can learn.”
“The lessons are right-on, for adults as well as children.”
In conclusion, Cars 3 “is a friendly, rollicking movie made with warmth and dash, and to the extent that it taps our primal affection for this series, it more than gets the job done.”
Best quotes from the reviews:
“A surprisingly mature movie.” – Matt Goldberg, Collider
“I welcome the occasional Pixar movie that doesn’t morph me into a quivering jelly mound.” – Glenn Kenny, The New York Times
“A finely executed product rather than an inspiring work of animated artistry.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety