Cars is probably my least favorite Pixar franchise and neither of the first two movies impressed me. Will this third installment finally win me over?
The first two Cars movies focused on Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) who became the best of the best in the world of racing. Now, this third movie humbles Lightning a bit, introducing a whole new generation of racers, high tech and created especially to race, highlighted by the fastest of them all, Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). McQueen suffers an injury and must not only recuperate but find a way to become relevant again. He is supported by a new team captain (Nathan Fillion) and a new specialized trainer (Cristela Alonzo). We also still have Mater the tow-truck (Larry the Cable Guy), though he’s in a very reduced role.
The first thing that will catch your attention is the way this movie looks. It’s sleek and gorgeous most of the time, though the anthropomorphized cars still look a little out of place in this hyper-realistic setting. The settings are varied and interesting, with the best setpiece being a demolition derby competition that looks astounding.
I also want to give kudos to what the movie tried to do. There are basically two stories here, one focused on McQueen trying to stay relevant and one focused on the trainer Cruz (Cristela) trying to make a name for herself in a world of male cars. These stories are actually interesting and deep, though the amateur script stops either of these stories from really landing.
The character of Cruz herself is probably the highlight in terms of voice talent. Cristela adds a charisma and energy that the others didn’t really deliver and I’m glad that Cruz became a central character (and probably my favorite Cars character) by the end of this film.
Like I said above, even though the story’s intentions are great, it fails to really become anything. The dialogue is cringe-worthy and the plot itself is riddled with inconsistencies and confusing moments. “This is a kid’s movie, Adam!” you might yell at your monitor. Unfortunately, the kids in my theater weren’t loving it. The movie is slow and boring, resulting in a theater full of bored kids who started wandering around the theater looking for something to entertain them. This movie fails on both levels, which is weird considering Pixar usually manages to succeed appealing to both kids and adults.
The voice talent also feels bored. Owen Wilson’s performance as Lightning is phoned-in and even new talent like Nathan Fillion and Chris Cooper feel bored and disengaged.
The marketing also led us to believe that something tragic would happen to Lightning but the movie actually kind of shoots right past that, failing to capitalize on the premise that got people into the seats.
Cars continues to be the worse Pixar franchise, by far. This entry fails to revitalize the franchise, giving us a boring and predictable journey that is only made bearable by a great performance by comedian Cristela Alonzo. The movie looks great, but both kids and adults will find it slow and tedious and overall not worth the price of admission.