Cars 3

When John Lassiter and his wife took their five children for a leisurely auto trip on old Route 66, it was to be an opportunity to bond with his children before they grew up and left home (he had been VERY busy with "Toy Story"). He was immediately entranced by what they found on that old sample of American history and as soon as he returned home, he packed up his Pixar crew and retraced his steps.

This was the genesis of "Cars." As a person who has enjoyed bits of old Route 66, I was enraptured by the way those brilliant artists captured the mystique of the route, the scenery, the little towns along the way, and the quirky characters that made the locations real. (Most of "Cars 2" took place in other countries, so that mystique was lost.) Now our aging hero is offered the siren song of a VERY rich retirement but there is only one problem: HE wants to be the one to decide when to stop.

In "Cars 3" I'm happy to report that we are back amid the gorgeous landscapes of Route 66 part of the time, and later on, when we go to Thunder Hollow, the delicate artistry is astounding!

Let's talk about this:
  • The G rating is so misleading. People see the words "Pixar" or "Disney" and they drag their toddlers into the theater, only to carry them out, bored and unhappy halfway through the film. There is, of course, a LOT of vehicular mayhem, it is, after all, about car racing with a side trip to a demolition derby, but no profanity, no sex, no drugs and they only drink 30-weight motor oil.
  • The plot is about aging. Yes, Pixar is talking about growing older and losing one's edge; no wonder the little 'uns are bored stiff. Our hero Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) needs a tuneup, or maybe he just needs to be traded in, but either way, he isn't winning like he used to! There is this young whippersnapper named Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) who has the technical edge. (He also has a lot of aggression buried in his make-believe hero worship.)
  • The late Paul Newman has not left the building! Evidently when he was doing his voice work for "Cars," they just let the recorder run the whole time. They had many statements they were able to use, to his children's delight, because Newman had been a fan of auto racing all his life. This means that our good old Hudson Hornet has a real presence and the lessons Lightning McQueen learned from Doc Hudson are still timely and important. (Can you see why children were bored?)
  • New faces and voices included the fitness instructor Cruz Ramirez (voiced by Cristela Alonzo), wise old Smokey (Chris Cooper), ambitious industrialist Sterling (Nathan Fillian), news commentator Natalie Certain (Kerry Washington), and scourge of the demolition derby, Louise Nash (Margo Martingale).
  • Our old friends are also there: Dentally challenged tow truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), Dusty (Ray Magliozzi), little Italian car Luigi (Tony Shalhoub), the military jeep Sarge (Paul Dooley), sweet old friend Sally (Bonnie Hunt), and the semi that carries our hero to the race tracks, Mack (John Ratzenberger).
The themes are too esoteric for children and a bit oversimplified for adults. The technical excellence of Pixar is evident in every scene, but please don't take little ones!
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Here is a sample:
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