Reel Shorts | Cars 3

by Monica Hayes

Lightning McQueen is racing back into our hearts with new friends, adventures and exciting racing in Disney’s Cars 3.! Ka-Chow!!

Lighting McQueen (Owen Wilson), now considered to be one of the elite racers in the sport, faces a new challenge when new rookie sensation Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) enters the scene. Jackson is part of a new generation of racers who have the newest cutting edge high tech, the newest training facilities, and all the bells and whistles to help tweak their performance on the track. Now with Jackson and the other new generation racers on the scene, McQueen is starting to feel his age.

Determined to stay relevant, McQueen doesn’t give up and tries to keep pace with the new kids. That is until a horrible crash forces him to step back, and rethink things. Reminded of how Doc’s career ended, McQueen retreats into despair. With the help from his buddies at Rust-eez McQueen is given a second chance at being in the spotlight again when he is taken to the new training facility ran by his new sponsor and super fan Sterling (Nathan Fillion). Here he meets bubbly trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) who is given the task to train him. This doesn’t go so well.

Faced with the reality that he may never race again, McQueen has to win his next race, the Florida 500 or be forced to retire. He and Cruz set out to train his way on the way to Florida. Along the way, they have plenty adventures and a lot of soul searching. Ultimately, McQueen finds his mojo to get back on the track and beat Jackson, or does he?

Just like in the original Cars movie where Doc Hudson (Paul Newman) passes the torch to a young arrogant McQueen, Cars 3 is doing the same with McQueen and Cruz. On many levels Cars 3 is a tribute to the Rocky movies. McQueen and Cruz train on a beach a la Rocky and Apollo, in Rocky III; having to deal with an opponent who has all the latest high-tech gadgets to train as in Rocky IV. Almost thought Jackson was going to say “I must break you!” and finally in Creed where and aged out Rocky instills his knowledge and experience to a young Adonis. Here, we see the same happening between McQueen and Cruz who watched him as a rookie and dreamed of one day having her chance to race with the big boys.

Cars 3 has also returned to its roots: the origin of NASCAR and the indirect way of running moonshine; nods to the racing culture, the inclusion and inspiration of many race legends including Kyle Petty, Bubba Wallace and Jeff Gordon and Danica Patrick just to name a few.

Overall, the exciting races, the sleek new generation cars, the homage paid to the late Paul Newman and of course Matter (Larry the Cable Guy) makes Cars 3 a fun and exciting movie that kids and adults will enjoy. As one little boy said as he left the theater: This was the best Cars yet!

Grade B