Vroom Vroom!


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’).

Favourite scene?

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…



6 thoughts on “Vroom Vroom!

  1. An interesting thought Joanne.
    I’ve heard Cars 3 described as a film that carries the torch for female empowerment as well as a meditation on the Pixar Studio’s own fear of ageing and obsolescence
    Head-spinning theories both of ’em!
    If I think of all the film series that have made it to at least trilogies, the one I rank as the most dissapointing personally for me was ALIEN 3 (1992).


  2. I’ve seen plenty of animated movies over the years with my daughter, and I rate Cars 3 very highly.

    Some animated movies are atrocious, but this one has real heart. The original was excellent as well. I like your perspective on it too Glen. Pixar wanted to forget Cars 2 ever existed, but this Rocky Balboaesque storyline has struck a chord with viewers. Interesting, Owen Wilson has been through some tough times with depression. He could possibly relate to the story on some levels.

    I loved how they payed homage to Doc and the original. Another nice touch was the reflection of Lightning and Cruz in the puddle as they zoomed around the old race track. My daughter reminded me that this was a technique used in Tangled. Animated movies, when they get it right, are all class. Nice observation on Owen Wilson being the ageing experienced star as well.

    Great read Glen!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If I’m reading you correctly Geoffrey, what you’re in effect saying with your introductory sentence is that you’re an animated movie ‘veteran’. How apt, since we both agree this movie embraces that theme and the idea, as Rocky Balboa (and probably Lighting McQueen for that matter) would say ,”There’s still something in the tank”.

    Brilliantly voiced observations from you and bonus points for use of the term ‘Rocky Balboaesque’. You and Lauren certainly deserve kudos for noticing the car reflections in the puddles. That one definitely passed me by. As a general observation I would say the landscapes in CARS 3 were photo-realistically convincing in the extreme and the animators worked small miracles making the cars seem lifelike and expressive.

    I’d love for you some time to name names when it comes to your ‘atrocious’ list of kids animated movies. Thinking perhaps FOODFIGHT(2012) and possibly MARS NEEDS MOMS (2011) both might earn a ‘dishon’ mention?


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