Cars 3 (2017)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Cars 3</strong> (2017)

(In French, Outdoors theater, July 2018) Pixar’s hitting the sequel profit-making button a bit heavily these days, and while Coco and Inside Out are welcome reminders that they’re still able to do original material, Cars 3 comes in the middle of a production schedule that includes Monsters University, Finding Dory, The Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4. Following up on the widely reviled Cars 2, however, this third instalment does feel like an apology of sorts. Going back to its American racing pedigree, Cars 3 makes most of its references to the first film, as if the second hadn’t happened. Mater is wisely relegated to a supporting role, the film foregoes any foreign trips and a big theme is one of modernity versus history. Our protagonist spends much of the film trying to recapture his racing mojo after an early-movie blowout, and the plot mechanics are an excuse to go back to Appalachia for some stock-car chassis-crunching action, plus a look at the pioneers of American racing. It generally works, even though it’s wise to avoid getting hung up on the details: The ending sequence hinges on one of the most outrageous cases of rule-lawyering that I can recall—even kids are liable to be dubious about it. I suppose that the film’s emphasis on aging, retirement and passing the torch is also more liable to reach the parents than the children in the audience. As is almost de rigueur with Pixar films, the visual polish of the film is as good as contemporary CGI can be—the background is often photorealistic, while the characters themselves are immensely detailed. Much of the world-building remains as nonsensical as the rest of the series (It even becomes infuriating the longer you think about it), so it’s best to approach Cars 3 as a caricature rather than detailed fantasy. The result is, all things considered, not too bad—thankfully much better than the second film, to the point where it’s more or less as good as the first (which, admittedly, remains among Pixar’s weakest). As atonement, it was worth Pixar’s effort.

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