Cars was a film that appealed to both children and adults, which made it successful. It was cute, funny and new. Cars 2 was a sequel that fell flatter than a worn-down tire.
Six years later, and here we have Cars 3, a film that takes too much time playing it safe and never peels out of its comfort zone, which is good fun for kids. For adults? Not so much.
I feel Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is always getting knocked down and then brought back to fame and glory. Cars 3, directed by Brian Fee, is more of the same: McQueen is older, yet remains popular among fans until Jakson Storm (Armie Hammer), a supercar, introduces a faster brand of racing. McQueen begins to fade away and lose plenty of times to Storm until he realizes that he may just be too old to hang with the young cats. Eventually, McQueen gets a bit of the blues and decides maybe it’s best to hang up the tires.
However, his friends, including one of his closest buddies in Sally (Bonnie Hunt), convince McQueen to face the music and reclaim his glory. So McQueen sets off to train with newcomer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo).
This is Fee’s directorial debut, so playing it safe is good for those who may not pay attention to plot structure or progression. For those who do, this was a predictable ride from the moment McQueen faces adversity. I didn’t expect this tale to be a home-run and challenge my life perspective, but I did expect a storyline that threw enough curveballs to keep the outside demographic engaged. Sadly, closing your eyes and napping for 10 minutes means you won’t miss much with this film.
Cars 3 attempted to break through the tension with humor that, like its plot, skimmed on uniqueness and stuck with being generic. The first time I audibly chuckled was during a short sequence where McQueen needed to face the press, and his friend Luigi (Tony Shalhoub) simply said in an Italian accent “paparazzi” and shrugged. Cheap, but it worked at a time where jokes were running dry.
The best part of Cars 3 did not even involve our main cast. There is a flashback sequence where McQueen is told a story about his old mentor, Doc Hudson (Paul Newman). Here is where the film finds a bit of pathos — there’s an appeal to the human spirit. However, the age-old tale of resurgence and finally getting the chance to top your foe shifts into your mirror, and we’re faced with a boring ride the rest of the way forward.
Speaking of storyline, I’m surprised Fee sped through McQueen’s time of sadness and initial defeat. It seemed as if our once-hero-turned-zero called it quits one morning, and decided the next to get back on the track. What could have added more character to Cars 3 was dealt with posthaste and felt as if the film hardly cared about the emotion depicted in the trailers.
If anything else, I figured the voice acting would be on par or close to the Pixar quality audiences have come to expect. While not terrible, too often were the lines phoned-in and lacking impact during serious and comedic moments. It’s a shame, because throughout this film I longed for the quality we saw in Cars to hopefully trickle into the third and (hopefully) final film.
During the screening, there were moments of ovation and loud laughs. I swore I was missing something, but the reality is Cars 3 is a film that failed to be anything but generic and, sometimes, flat-out mediocre.
I was invited to a 3D screening of ‘Cars’ thanks to Sly Fox and Disney. ❤
‘Cars’ is rated G, runs 1 hour and 49 minutes and releases on June 16, 2017 in North America.