Okay, okay. Forget the intro. Skip the pomp and circumstance. It’s Cars 3. Who cares right? Spoiler alert: I hated it. But here’s the thing: I really didn’t want to.
Ah, Pixar. There’s honestly no company in the history of cinema that has acquired a more illustrious and legendary persona than Pixar. Even their predecessor Disney has a greater ratio of bad films to good. I mean, how many people have a copy of Home on the Range on Bluray? Did you forget about Home on the Range? It’s about cows. Anyway, Pixar’s pretty much great, except when it comes to the Cars franchise. The first one is a fine movie but it was the first Pixar movie that was clearly targeted directly at children. Cars 2 was a ridiculous romp whose only claim to fame was being the worst Cars film. Well, now it doesn’t even have that praise anymore. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Cars 3 is worse. I had a lot of faith in this movie. I trusted Pixar to put a little more effort into this entry, plus the mysterious teaser trailer promised a much more serious film in which Lightning McQueen deals with the repercussions of his untimely car crash on the asphalt. The film we received, however, was a childish, lazy, boring snoozefest that wasted my time and energy for an hour and 49 minutes.
So what’s the plot of Cars 3? As I mentioned before, Lightning McQueen, the once heroic superstar of the racing circuit, gets into a possible career-ending wreck that sends him out of commission for how long? Four months. After four months, he is totally fine. He then trains for literally a week and reenters a race. Let me remind you, these are sentient cars we’re talking about here. Humans survive car accidents because they have all sorts of interior safety equipment designed to protect their bodies. In the Cars universe, the car bodies are their bodies. If I pushed Steph Curry down an elevator shaft, it would probably take him over four months to be court ready again. Of course, this movie isn’t just a simple comeback story. It’s also a story about Lightning McQueen being too old for the old driving game. Newer, younger racers have exploded onto the scene using high-tech racing equipment and controlled statistics to outrun oldtimers like McQueen. So basically it’s the plot of every Rocky movie mashed into one bastardized version. Well, maybe not the first Rocky, but all the others after that. The oddest decision this movie made was to introduce a brand new character named Cruze and then focus almost entirely on her. You would think that as the hopefully final entry in the trilogy, they would want to close out McQueen’s storyline. If anything, he’s just a plot device designed to propel an ever-increasingly pedantic script. I mean really, this movie just trudges on scene after scene, until the monotony of it all causes you to want to lie down in the center of the racetrack and wait for the end.
What really baffles me about Pixar’s effort this time around was their ability to make a movie that literally appeals to no one. There aren’t enough kid-friendly jokes to keep the children interested, and there isn’t enough adult-oriented humor to entertain the parents either. They removed basically every previous character from the franchise except for McQueen from the storyline and attempted to shoehorn in some manufactured emotion revolving around the Doc Hudson character. It’s really got me dumbfounded. Even if you think Mater is annoying, you have to recognize that he makes a majority of the audience laugh. You might as well give him something, anything to do in your movie. I find the minions to be the most obnoxious characters alive but even I wouldn’t remove them from Despicable Me 3. The voice acting is pretty poor as well. Owen Wilson seems to be attempting to channel some of Tom Hanks’ work in the Toy Story franchise, but he seems to be unaware that Hanks is a vastly superior actor. He just kind of stumbles along giving a performance that is every bit as uninspiring as the rest of the film.
There are things to like about this movie. You have to search for them, but they’re there. It is a very visually attractive film. Pixar’s animators were really at the top of their game with this one. There are scenes of them driving cross country that genuinely took my breath away. But realistically the biggest benefit of this film is one more abstract. This movie is going to make a king’s ransom in merchandising, as its predecessors have done. All the Lightning McQueen Crocs and Hot Wheels sold after the first film came out were the only way we would have gotten some of Pixar’s more risky ventures like Ratatouille or Wall-E. And Cars 2 paved the way for Inside Out in Tow Mater bedspreads and beach towels. So while this film really busted my chops, I have to praise its existence, as I’m sure it will help Pixar make something a lot more intriguing in the years to come. As for right now, though. I’d advise against seeing Cars 3. If I were to describe it in one word it would be “dirge.” It’s just boring and really won’t leave you very entertained. But hey, if you want to waste your time, who am I to stop you?
All images are from Cars 3, a Pixar film