Lightning McQueen sets out to prove to a new generation of racers that he’s still the best race car in the world.
Owen Wilson is back as spunky car Lightning McQueen along with his old gang. Mater is in his element with all his redneck glory, bringing in the laughs. A new voice caught my attention, and I was pleasantly surprised to find Nathan Fillion (known for “Castle”) playing McQueen’s new sponsor. I wasn’t sure how Disney was going to be able to create another hit movie featuring a bunch of cars that can talk, but they pulled it off with little pizzazz. The plot was possibly geared more towards adults than children, which is rare in the third movie in a series. Either way, the cartoon was a wonderful mix of old and new characters ensured to delight children. I do think they could have added a couple of kid cars, mainly because I have a morbid curiosity about how cars would procreate.
Lightning McQueen is out at the tracks winning races and goofing off with friends. Then one day a new car shows up, shiny and modern. The newer generation is more advanced, with higher speeds and abilities, ready to leave the old time racers in their dust. When the new kid, Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), gets on the track, he sneaks up and wins the race in the last stretch. His win forces McQueen to understand he is the old man on the block. All of the old timers drop out of the races, knowing they cannot keep up with the new youngsters overflowing the raceway. McQueen isn’t ready to throw in the buffing cloth and admit defeat. He tries to out-speed the saplings and finds himself facing the wrong side of the track. Out of commission for repairs, Lightening retreats into a deserved depression as he recuperates from his accident on the tracks.
His buddies from Radiator Springs band together to force Lightning out of his head and back onto the tracks. Once back in the rink, Lightning finds out he has a new sponsor who can afford all the bells and whistles that come with this modern new age. New training methods, filled with gadgets and gizmos, and trainers who are afraid to get dirty when they can train with simulations and computers. Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) plans to teach Lightning in all the new ways, but not without making him feel like he is ready for the junkyard where all the dilapidated vehicles are headed. Spunky Ramirez doesn’t take long to get on her trainee’s nerves with her new ways and technology.
Determined to get in shape for what might be his last race, McQueen decides to try a different tactic to train for the race of his life against the new kids. He returns to the hometown of his old hero, trainer, and friend, Doc Hudson, to find Smokey (Chris Cooper), Hudson’s trainer. Along the way, he makes some new friends including Ramirez and a Bus bent on destroying McQueen on the track. Lightning finds his old gumption along with a bunch of older racers who won by cleverness and wit. Heading back to the raceway, McQueen learns retirement might not be such a bad idea after all, as he learns sometimes he needs to put other people ahead of himself. First, he will have to spar with his new sponsor to stay in the game and possibly help out a new friend.
The best part of “Cars,” any of the three, is Tow-mater. They managed to bring tractor tipping back, which was great fun. I enjoyed the new character Ramirez, a car version of Dory who doesn’t get lost, as she is lovable and annoying. Bringing in the new and retiring the old was an excellent method for keeping “Cars” alive, despite the first movie being over ten years old. The parallels to “Rocky” are apparently amusing for Rocky fans. Even though this is the third in the series, it’s better than the expected DVD-released version I thought I would be watching. Maybe not Pixar’s finest piece of work, but a decent mentorship movie meant to inspire. Go ahead and splurge, buy “Cars 3” as it is well worth your time and money.
Now available on Digital HD and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & DVD Tuesday, November 7th