Pixar’s first bad movie, Cars 2, erred in making Mater the tow truck the main character and in emphasizing a tired espionage caper over jokes. Pixar’s second bad movie, Cars 3, fixes those mistakes and replaces them with different ones. This time, the accursed Mater is hardly around at all (and the film seems apologetic when he is); instead of a spy adventure it’s a boring existential drama about an aging racer’s fear of obsolescence. Whee! Vrooom! Champion racer Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), threatened by a sleeker, faster rookie (Armie Hammer), reluctantly teams up with a perky trainer (Cristela Alonzo) and a high-tech sponsor (Nathan Fillion) who help him get back to basics and come to terms with his own mortality. Now, the Toy Story trilogy got pretty grim too, but it also included humor (remember humor?) and established a convincing reality for its characters. Cars 3 is nearly devoid of comedy, follows no internal logic and, apart from a fun sequence at a demolition derby, isn’t much to look at. This isn’t for kids; it’s for NASCAR-loving adults who find generic stories compelling when they involve talking cars.
Director: Brian Fee
Producer: Kevin Reher and John Lasseter
Cast: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Armie Hammer, Chris Cooper, Nathan Fillion, Larry the Cable Guy, Tony Shalhoub, Margo Martindale, Kerry Washington, Cheech Marin, Lea DeLaria, Bonnie Hunt, Bob Costas, Paul Newman, Michael Wallis and Paul Dooley