‘CARS 3’: Just what the se­ries needs

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Damian Levy Gleaner Writer

THE FAMED Cars fran­chise races back into cin­e­mas. Af­ter the spy-themed fever dream that was Cars 2, the se­ries has taken a cue from other trilo­gies be­fore it and re­turned to its un­der­dog story roots.

The fo­cus switches back to Light­ning McQueen this time around. The movie opens with Light­ning on top of his game. Win­ning races, but with­out the ego that made him so un­like­able in the first film. Along comes Jack­son Storm, a new breed of race car. It is the faster, stronger new hot­ness to Light­ning’s old and busted make and model. Af­ter an ac­ci­dent leaves Light­ning the worse for wear, he has to redis­cover his in­ner racer – or leave the rac­ing to the new kids on the track.

The Cars films have al­ways been the black sheep of the Pixar fam­ily. The de­cency of the first film was un­der­cut by the sec­ond film’s in­ad­e­quacy. This film, how­ever, builds upon the best el­e­ments of the se­ries, pro­vid­ing per­haps the most heart­felt of the tril­ogy. Most of that is due to Light­ning McQueen’s in­tro­spec­tive jour­ney, as he comes to terms with his legacy and the life of a racer well past his prime.

If any of this sounds fa­mil­iar, that’s be­cause it’s par for the course with any long-run­ning sports film fran­chise. The

Rocky films are a good ex­am­ple. Cars 3 hits all the hall­marks of a sports film star­ring a long-es­tab­lished per­former. It ex­plores the men­tor-mentee re­la­tion­ship, the chal­lenges of an ath­lete grow­ing old and, of course, the pass­ing of the torch. For ad­vent film fans, much of this will seem like old hat. How­ever, for the tar­get au­di­ence it tells its story with a pathos and res­o­nance that far ex­ceeded my ex­pec­ta­tions.

There are, of course, the hu­mor­ous mo­ments. My favourites are any pun to be made in a world of liv­ing ve­hi­cles.

Cars 3 is not a non-stop laugh ma­chine. Many of the jokes won’t get rau­cous laughs from the older au­di­ence mem­bers, though the kids will be en­ter­tained. The char­ac­ters, though, are charm­ing and gives the movie an en­dear­ing qual­ity, with an end­ing that de­vi­ates from ex­pec­ta­tion.

Par­ents won’t suf­fer through this one like most other kids’ films and would do well to see this film at half-price. Rat­ing: Half-Price

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTOS

Light­ning McQueen (voice of Academy Award nom­i­nee, Owen Wil­son) in ‘Cars 3’. AT TOP: Miss Frit­ter (voice of Lea DeLaria) chas­ing Light­ning McQueen (voice of Owen Wil­son) in ‘Cars 3’.

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