Movie Review: Cars 3 (2017)

Title: Cars 3
Release Date: June 16, 2017
Director: Brian Fee
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures | Pixar Animation Studios

Cars 3 basically pretends that Cars 2 never happened and goes back to the well with a story that follows up on Cars. Much of the movie is basically the Rocky III of the Cars franchise.  Lightning McQueen even races on a beach and there’s a character named Cal (not Carl) Weathers. After many years of success, Lightning finds himself challenged by fast and confident young cars like Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer).  After losing several races and crashing, Lightning must train to be competitive again, hoping to finish his racing career on his own terms.

Initially, Lightning trains in a high-tech facility with an energetic young trainer, Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo).  Failing to adapt to the virtual techniques, Lightning and Cruz head out to train on real dirt, much as his late  mentor Doc Hudson (Paul Newman) taught him. (I do wonder how a car “dies” in this universe, although it does make for another Rocky III parallel with Rocky losing his mentor Mickey). Eventually, Lightning and Cruz end up training with Doc Hudson’s former crew chief Smokey (Chris Cooper).

There’s a big twist in the final act that I won’t spoil (that is both corny and satisfying) that keeps the movie from being a total Rocky III remake. The animation has become more realistic since 2006 so the racing scenes are very intense.  There’s also a lot of good humor, especially when Lightning and Cruz end up in a demolition derby. I’m not sure if Cars is worthy of three whole movies, but this one like it’s predecessors is entertaining enough.

Rating: ***

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