Cars 3

Rated 3.0

The Cars franchise gets a nice little rebirth with Cars 3, a much, much better movie than Cars 2, and a slightly better movie than the first Cars. If you’re keeping score—and, really, you shouldn’t be, for there are far more pressing matters in your life—that still makes Cars 3 one of the more mediocre offerings from Pixar. Still, a mediocre Pixar film is better than most animated movies. Jettisoning the stupid spy movie bullshit—oops, I just cursed in a review for a G-rated movie … sorry, kids—that made the last installment convoluted and useless, the folks at Pixar choose to go an earthier, more emotional route with this one, and it works, for the most part. They also find a way to get the voice of the late Paul Newman into the mix, and hearing his beautiful growl again definitely warms the heart. Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is getting on in years, and he’s facing fierce competition from newer model cars like Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), a strong, highly-trained vehicle that is beating McQueen on the racetrack. After a calamitous accident that renders his beautiful red sheen primer gray, McQueen is faced with either retirement or a new training regime comeback, Rocky III-style. The movie plays around with the notions of retirement and the rites of passage to the next generation, pretty heady stuff for a G-rated animated movie. Give the screenwriters credit for finally coming up with a story for Lightning McQueen that caters as much to adults as it does to kids. Also, through cameos, jargon and plenty of racing sequences, the movie should please NASCAR fans.