REVIEW: Cars 3

26 06 2017

LPixar, like any purveyor of family entertainment, tells stories laden with themes. They do a better job than most at letting those life lessons arise naturally from an ingeniously derived plot rather than letting the morals dictate the proceedings. For whatever reason, the “Cars” franchise has been an outlet for some of the animation studio’s most blatant sermonizing, and “Cars 3” is no different.

As champion racer Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) faces obsolescence in his sport thanks to an influx of “Moneyball“-esque stats and data, he has to take his game back to the basics. At the new racing facility, his trainer Cruz (voice of Cristela Alonzo) tries pulling some Mr. Miyagi style mind tricks on him as she eases him into their high-tech treadmills and simulators. Yet for all Cruz’s fancy techniques, Lightning shows how little she knows when taking her outside to race. There’s something to say for real-life experience as opposed to simulations of it.

But lest we think that Lightning is the pinnacle of senior sagacity, the duo eventually links up with some pals of his mentor, Doc Hudson. (Paul Newman’s character from the first film keeps appearing in so many flashbacks that you’d think he died in 2016, not 2008.) These vintage autos help Lightning realize that joy and promise lie beyond our youthful days, though they also help raise his game with some of their classic, road-tested techniques. The limitations of older generations gave them different, not less, skills, and we’d all be wiser to heed their lessons.

It’s not a radical message, and Pixar did better conveying intergenerational understanding with “Up.” Still, it’s harmless to see repeated and beneficial to remember. B

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