Okay I am exactly the wrong person to review Cars 3. Seriously. Cars are not appealing to me, it would be like making an animated universe peopled entirely by tea bags. I’ve used them, I’ve enjoyed using them, but they are not intrinsically interesting to me. Neither is sports, (can’t stand sports movies) which is what the Cars are a metaphor for. It’s a sequel to a movie I didn’t watch. This wasn’t going to be a favourable review. So imagine my surprise – Cars 3 was amazing. It is an example where good writing can make up for almost anything else.
Lightning McQueen sets out to prove to a new generation of racers that he’s still the best race car in the world.
See the thing about Cars 3 is that it’s a true story (except people aren’t cars). I don’t know whose, I don’t know when, but I can imagine every champion athlete goes through this. Hell, every person goes through this at some point (or will, if they’re lucky) It was absolutely emotionally genuine. Cars 3 is the story of getting older and not being able to do as well as you used to. What to do when you can no longer be the best? What do you do when your entire identity is based on one thing and that thing is fading? Interesting thing, this movie came out on Father’s Day weekend and it seems like it’s even more for dads and grandads than it is for kids. Of course this kinda backfired – there were moments where I was choking up and all the kids were bored and restless.
Best of all, Cars 3 answers the questions it raises. That’s good writing. You ask a question, hopefully something the audience can relate to, and then you answer it. The best movies all do this in some way. And when you see a movie that’s all special effects but completely forgettable, this is what it was missing. Cars 3 is also exceptionally paced, complete with the measurable, visible goal, the mid-point turnaround and the (minor) occasional plot twist. Also worth mentioning is the completely relatable characters with awesome voice acting. I love Owen Wilson in everything and Nathan Fillion was amazing. Also I loved Chris Cooper as Smokey and Lea DeLaria as Fritter.
Did I mention I hate the Cars universe? These vehicles are creepy. I think it’s horrible that they have human eyes and human teeth (shuddering as I write this). Why do they have teeth if they consume gas? Also what are they doing with a human-like buildings in in a human-like town, without humans? Sure it’s clever that their cafe’s are gas stations, but seriously, it’s weird. Stadiums filled with cars in the audience but human-sized stairs. And they hold things with their wheels (like cameras and microphones) but how do they pick them up? Where do young cars come from – are they made or are they born? Are there car cemeteries or do they get crushed into cubes? Are there cemeteries full of cubes?
So is Cars 3 worth watching? Yes. It’s beautiful, both visually and emotionally. And it’s FUNNY – that’s super important. The kids might be a little bored, there were definitely some parts where the action slowed to build the tension and character development. The plot and motivation is aimed squarely at the grown-ups. There’s a demolition derby scene that’s not to be missed. And a scene about ‘cows’…. Nevermind. I might even see this one again, or at least listen to the dialogue while watching something else, anything else.