Capturing Lightning McQueen in a Bottle

Cars 3 – Beth and I have been trying to make it through all the Pixar movies, but both of us found this series pretty boring. It was obviously popular since they made three of them, but I just couldn’t get into them. I will say that this is a more direct follow-up to the first one, focusing on Lightning McQueen and his racing career, so you’d probably like it if you liked that one. I can say it makes a lot more sense than the second one. Before the movie came out, there were online rumors that McQueen would die. He doesn’t, but it is about his getting old and unable to go as fast as he used to be able to, and worried he’ll be forced into retirement. That’s a subject kids will identify with. The stakes really seem kind of low, because it’s mostly just his fame that’s at stake; he’s in no real danger or anything. But then, the hero retiring and passing the torch is pretty much inevitable for a series of sports films. There is somewhat of an additional conflict because the new owner of the company that sponsors him wants him to become a corporate shill, which he really already is, but I guess it’s okay as long as he gets to do what he loves. Also, this is from a company that commercializes the hell out of everything and has recently been buying up practically every entertainment outlet in existence. But the creative part of the industry being at odds with the suits is hardly anything new. What exactly does a live car getting old entail, anyway? Could they give McQueen a new engine, or would that be like a brain transplant? Anyway, McQueen gets a new trainer, Cruz Ramirez, who wanted to be a racecar herself but never took the opportunity. She comes across as rather corny and clueless, and she’s the one McQueen is a jerk toward, which seems to be a plot point in every one of these movies. He has a bunch of memories of his old trainer, Doc Hudson, voiced by the late Paul Newman; and decides to seek out HIS mentor, his pickup truck mechanic Smokey. Smokey tells McQueen that Doc liked training him more than he did racing. I don’t remember the first Cars that well, but were they even friends for that long? Regardless, McQueen enters a big race in Florida, and gets Cruz to finish it for him, allowing her to fulfill her dream. The film seemed to portray her as kind of corny and clueless at first, so turning around and making her a hero seems a little weird. I guess the moral is that doing stuff is better than teaching others about stuff. Or maybe that doing stuff and THEN teaching others about it is the best. Tow Mater plays a relatively minor role in this one after being the focus of Cars 2, but he does get to work in a classic Disney reference by singing his own version of the song from the Humphrey cartoon “In the Bag.” Anyway, I’m hoping for my own sake that they don’t make a Cars 4, even though I’d only have to watch it because of my weird completist tendencies; and it’s not like they’re unwatchable, just not really my thing. But I hear people really liked the next Pixar film, Coco.

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