By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
It’s that time of year again- time for Pixar to do its part contributing to the Disney marketing & money-printing machine and cash in on its good name with a familiar, merchandise-friendly sequel to a franchise that started out with a touch more integrity… well almost.
“Integrity” is pushing it for any Larry the Cable Guy vehicle.
Cars 3 sees Lightning McQueen complete his fairly inevitable character journey from young overconfident hotshot to the veteran threatened by the young overconfident hotshots, as a new generation of stats-driven speedsters take over the track. Can he and all his comic relief sidekicks, his mentor’s mentor, and one hotshot young trainer who lacks the confidence to race herself find a way to victory?
Let no one ever tell you that Pixar doesn’t put its money right up there on the screen. They just keep pushing animation further and further towards complete and utter photorealism, and some shots honestly straight up achieve it. The several montages of driving across the great U.S. of A. are nothing short of gorgeous.
Otherwise, to be honest this sort of story would probably get at least 10 more rottentomatoes percentage points if it came from, say, Dreamworks. It’s perfectly serviceable storytelling delivered by engaged vocal performances and some pretty dazzling racetrack action. It’s not Moby Dick, but it’s not The Nut Job, either. The kids will eat it up, and you really won’t hate it.
This is the most explicitly kid-aimed franchise of the whole Pixar bunch, and that’s including a three-movie series about literal toys. So, yes, there’s plenty of corny jokes and child-friendly nonsense. It is what it is.
Slightly more unfortunate is how the plot trades on the nostalgia of the first to find its trademark Pixar heart. There’s something somewhat off about invoking Paul Newman’s final film role from the original Cars as extensively as this does- it’s the corporatization of a legacy in the exact same way the film ironically denounces in the case of Lightning McQueen. Recognizing that you shouldn’t be doing something doesn’t then mean you can go ahead and do it.
I know that this is a popular Cars universe complaint, but there’s really no way not to wonder about a world that still has animal life, and that has all of the vestiges of human culture, right down to regional specificity, and yet no sign of humans at all… this is Terminator shit.
Okay, fine, let’s call this the obligatory Larry the Cable guy beer, too (although he’s toned wayyy down from last time).
This has got to be single-handedly propping up Dan Whitney’s career now, right?
Cars 3 is pretty much exactly what you think it is- another franchise play that steers course back to the nostalgia of the first film, for better and worse.
Cars 3 (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for flashbacks. R.I.P. Paul Newman.
Take a Drink: for talk of aging
Take a Drink: for talk of sponsorship
Take a Drink: for Southern stereotypes
Take a Drink: for horrifying Pixar Theory implications. (what happened to the people from those campers? Or school buses?)
Do a Shot: whenever Larry the Cable Guy Truck shows up