Cars 3 might be the strongest entry in the Cars series but it's still only subpar when it comes to other Pixar classics.
Director: Brian Fee
Summary: Lightning McQueen sets out to prove to a new generation of racers that he's still the best race car in the world.
The Cars series is not very good; or let's say it's not very good by the standards set up by Pixar. This is a company that has created some of the most moving and deep animated films in years and this series is just not very good as compared to others. If you compare it to other animated movies they are genius, but it's impossible to review a Pixar movie without thinking of other Pixar movies. That being said Cars 3 is still the strongest entry into this series. These movied exist because they sell a lot of toys and this one is probably going to sell a lot of toys. However, Cars 3 went in a different direction as the beginning of the movie starts with Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) getting into a horrible crash. The crash and watching them is half the appeal of NASCAR but these cars are alive. We basically watched an athlete get into a career ending, horrible injury. The movie turns into Lightning coming back from that to try and win again.
Only that isn't all what it's about. One of the brilliant things about using animated movies to tell complex stories that kids might not understand is that it simplifies the idea, such as the "predator vs prey" thing in Zootopia. In this case it's about getting older because Lightning is being replaced with faster and more high tech cars in the form of Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). The idea of old tech being replaced with new tech is something kids can understand even more so than just explaining growing up. We watched Lightning become a racer in the first film and now we're watching him face the end of his career. Not quite the "life and death" thing in Toy Story 3 but close. Lightning has great backup from Cruz (Cristela Alonzo), his new trainer, who spends a good portion of the movie reminding him of how old he is.
The problem is that while the idea of approaching this as a "there is a life after your dream job ends" type of thing, the talky parts of the movie are going to make the target audience squirm. While there is significantly less Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) that will make the parents happy the kids in the audience are probably going to miss him. It makes for a movie that feels like it was trying to be for the entire family but instead of making an entire family friendly movie they made scenes that appeal to older audience members and scenes that appeal to younger members. The slow scenes and the faster ones don't fit together so it makes for a movie that goes up and down as far as pacing goes.
Cars 3 is fine just like the rest of the Cars movies. It has a great ending with a killer message but the entire thing doesn't quite fit together. There are problems that can't be overlooked but this series is here to sell toys and not much else. If we must sit through another Cars movie in order to get Inside Out or Coco or The Incredibles 2, well it could be a lot worse.