<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Brian Fee. Starring the voice talent of Owen Wilson, Kerry Washington, Nathan Fillion, Armie Hammer, Cristela Alonzo, Bonnie Hunt, John Ratzenberger, Tony Shalhoub, Cheech Marin
Running time: 1 hour 49 minutes
I’ve never been a fan of the Cars franchise, which is undoubtedly one of Pixar’s weaker creations. But I guess it helps sell a lot of merchandise.
Almost 5 years after the last Cars film (Cars 2), yet another dreary story about Lightning McQueen’s challenges to win a race starts off. He’s past his prime, overshadowed and overtaken by newer and younger models like Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) with space age technology and planet-sized attitude. Is it time for him to hang up his racing tyres? That’s ostensibly what the film is about till it takes a U-turn half way through with a side story for his feisty new trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) who couldn’t ‘do’ so she ‘taught’.
Cars 3 goes through familiar tracks with his old gang in Radiator Springs and then on the road trying to regain his confidence and speed. There’s plenty of dull banter and attempts to be cutesy but nothing really special here. Couldn’t it have been about more than just a race? Of course there’s a stab at a more meaningful plot line that attempts to go in the direction Disney seems to be taking now: more strong female leads and characters. But here it just seemed a bit too orchestrated for purpose.
Apart from a sad story about Cruz’s attempts at racing, there’s no real depth to her story. Of course you do realise that all the racing cars are male. And so there’s a perfect opportunity here. But I just feel it’s a bit squandered in what turns out to be an interesting twist that comes way too late in the game. Your loyalties have been with Lightning for the most part and then all of a sudden to root for the new guy, or rather girl, is a bit of a disconnect. Also, there’s no real depth or character to all those ‘bad, new racing cars’ to make us feel like cheering on ‘the good cars’.
Tedious flashbacks and plodding conversation cannot be covered up with a shiny new paint job and slick CGI. I’m not sure if this film will appeal to adults at all; and I found the use of the phrase ‘son of a gun’ in the film a bit inappropriate for kids (I am not a prude).
When we were kids we used to play with toy cars and give them voices and make them go on adventures. Cars fails to cash in on that fully limiting the story to the race track.