This movie has car crashes and car chases, as you’d expect, but the real action happened in the car-park before we’d even arrived at the cinema. More on that later.
It’s been ten years since the first CARS movie hit cinemas and the hero of the series, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson using his best Texan drawl), is not as young as he once was. He’s facing challengers from next-gen racers that use new fangled training methods, embrace ‘data’ to inform their racing tactics and show little respect or even knowledge of the past achievements of the ‘legends’ of their sport.
CARS 3 is a movie that draws on our collective fear of ageing and irrelevance. In posing the question “When does a past champion call time on their career and stop trying to compete with the youngsters?” it can easily be seen as a kind of ROCKY BALBOA (2006) on four wheels. In fact, this movie pays indirect homage to a number of sports films including, most obviously, the Tom Cruise starring ‘vehicle’ DAYS OF THUNDER (1990). (Underlined by the fact that the other main ‘car-racter’ in the movie besides Lightning McQueen is named ‘Cruz’).
Glad you asked.
Predictably for me, it’s a blink and you’ll miss it bit-part that shows Lightning McQueen finishing up in the locker room after yet another humiliating training session on the racing simulator, suggesting to him again his best days may be behind him. Into this scene glides a talking polishing machine whose job it is to clean the tiles once everyone’s left for the day. We hear the tile-polisher remark under his breath,”You’re all washed up McQueen”, but the former-champion racer picks up on the comment and challenges the cleaner to repeat it. “They’re all washed and clean” says the janitor-bot again, pointing to the tiles while not missing a beat.
As to the ageing theme, Owen Wilson, who’s now 48, in an interview for the film, pointed to real life parallels. Describing a recent press junket whereby actors from the film moved from table to table talking to journalists, Wilson related the following amusing anecdote –
“I’m quietly talking and they’ve got their litle recorders out listening and there’s some light chuckles – but at the table over from me, Cristela Alonzo, who’s playing Cruz, would be just laughing, seeming like they’re having the best time.
It reminded me of the time when I was doing press on Armageddon (1998), maybe because it was one of my first movies and I was really excited to do the press junket, I remember my tables really laughing it up, having a great time and Bruce Willis saying, “What are you guys talking about?”
I felt like I’d moved over into the old veteran who’s just boring my press junket while Cristela’s knocking them dead.”
And the car park incident?
You get that one next post, so…