“This is my last chance, Cruz, LAST! If I lose I never get to do this again,” says Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) to his new young trainer, Cruz Ramirez (voiced by Cristela Alonzo), as he struggles to get ready for what could be his final race in the third installment of Pixar’s animated film franchise, Cars 3.
As the film begins, Lightning McQueen is enjoying racing against his old competitors and adding more wins to his list of accomplishments. As the racing season continues, however, McQueen finds himself blindsided by a new generation of extremely fast racers, in particular a rookie named Jackson Storm (voiced by Armie Hammer) who leaves Lightning eating his dust as he beats him time and again.
McQueen sees his old competitors and friends retiring or being forced out of racing to make way for the new speedsters and becomes determined to prove he’s still the fastest car on the track on the last race of the season. Unfortunately, McQueen ends up in a very bad accident near the end of the race, finishing the season with a new career low.
Four months later, McQueen’s friends in Radiator Springs – including Sally (voiced by Bonnie Hunt) and Mader (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy – encourage a depressed Lightning to start training again to get ready for the next big race. Realizing he will need to learn some new tricks and moves on the track, Lightning teams up with a new sponsor and a new trainer named Cruz. Lightning also heads out to seek the help of those who knew his old coach and racing legend Hudson Hornet to get ready to take on Jackson Storm and prove that his racing days are not yet behind him.
Charming, sweet, and visually dazzling, Cars 3 brings back to the animated series the heart, fun, and humor of the original film. The strong script wisely focuses on Lightning McQueen, his relationship with his friends, his lost dreams, the memory of his mentor and coach Hudson Hornet, and striving to end things on his own terms while creating a new beginning.
The voice cast is great, with most of the talent from the original film returning to bring these lovable characters to life once again. Chris Cooper, who voices Smokey, Hornet’s best friend back in the day, is a welcome addition to the film. Cooper’s Smokey fills the void still felt by the absence of the iconic Paul Newman and Hudson Hornet. Sadly, the addition of McQueen’s well-meaning but at times annoying new trainer, Cruz, comes up short on introducing a likeable or interesting character for the audience to care about or root for.
Cars 3 looks fantastic, with beautiful animation, bright colors, and some wonderful visual effects. It’s perhaps the most visually dynamic film of the series. The musical score is also a highlight of the film, adding tension and suspense, effectively evoking an emotional response from the audience.
With a solid script that has plenty of heart, lovable characters, and fantastic animation, Cars 3 is a first-rate animated adventure for kids 7-70. Don’t miss it.
MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 109 minutes
Directed By: Brian Fee
Release Date: June 16, 2017