Starring: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonso, Armie Hammer, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy (Rated G – 109 min).
While the wonderful, timeless Toy Story series remains at the top, it is rare that a Pixar animation studio film falters. Recently The Good Dinosaur just kept the successful tradition alive. Their entire catalogue is scattered with beautiful unique stories with playful family value moments spiced with drama and sometimes breathtaking situations.
They are all visually dynamic, gorgeous to look at, with artistry so perfect you almost forget it is a cartoon. However, Cars 2 (2011) was not critically acclaimed. But obvious lack of emotion, comedy and thrills didn’t diminish box office results. Merchandise from anything Cars is a Disney goldmine. Apparently one of the biggest franchises of toy sales so a Part 3 was always happening.
The talking automobile saga has gone back to wholesome basics of the 2006 original with champion speedster Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) no longer firing on all pistons. Age is taking its toll with results on the track so an assistant trainer type mentor is assigned. Desperate to make a comeback, the red flash will try anything to get cranking again.
Her name is Cruz (Cristela Alonso), a firebrand young hotshot ready to help McQueen return to the winner’s circle even though she had never had a chance to race herself. It’s not a complicated plot here with a sneaky spoiler near the beginning of the film for those watching closely. As this is a family film with kids in mind, screenplay transparency is not a problem.
Never overtly funny, Cars 3 has amusing tender links to past and present still feeling fresh but nowhere near equalling the unique edge of the most recent Pixar standout, Inside Out (2015). Formula story aspects there may be but dare I say it, excitement within the race scenes are fantastic for all ages.
In order to sell more toys, there is a plethora of cool and not so cool new characters. One of the best is radical school bus Miss Fritter (Lea DeLaria) of Orange is the New Black fame, although I remember her as gender bender Mr. Purple in Pulp Fiction satire Plump Fiction (1997).
Perfect school holiday entertainment…and don’t arrive late! As traditional with all Disney/Pixar cinema releases, an impressive short animated film starts proceedings.
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