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dir Brian Fee
prd Kevin Reher
scr Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson, Mike Rich
voices Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Nathan Fillion, Larry the Cable Guy, Armie Hammer, Tony Shalhoub, Bonnie Hunt, Kerry Washington, Lea DeLaria, Margo Martindale, Isiah Whitlock Jr
release US 16.Jun.17, UK 14.Jul.17
17/US Pixar 1h42
Eat my dust: Lightning and Cruz
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
After two Planes movies, the roadsters return in a much earthier adventure than 2011's frantic Cars 2. Stripped back to the basics, this sequel is warm and enjoyable, as long as you can cope with the nagging sense that this entire world is rather wrong (why do cars check into hotels when they can just park on the road?). There's also an issue with the fact that the themes aren't addressed at children.
The undisputed champ of the racing circuit, Lightning McQueen (Wilson) is stunned when young upstart Jackson Storm (Hammer) beats him using high-tech training techniques. So McQueen's whizzy new sponsor (Fillion) assigns him to work with trainer Cruz (Alonzo) to boost his speed. But McQueen wants to feel the sand in his tyres, and hits the road with Cruz to discover his roots, seeking out Smokey (Cooper), who worked with McQueen's late mentor Hudson (Paul Newman). Meanwhile, a top TV pundit (Washington) cuts McQueen's odds of ever winning again.
For a movie aimed at merchandise-hungry young boys, it's odd that the film's main point is that we need to know when to bow out gracefully and leave the action to the younger generation. This is a terrific arc for McQueen, and it gives the film some extra gravitas, balancing the wacky humour and automotive puns with something grown-ups can identify with. Younger viewers will be more interested in Cruz's engaging story arc or Storm's flashy shenanigans.
There are a number of riotous set pieces, including a hilariously over-the-top demolition derby in the mud. But much of the movie features veterans passing on sage advice to subsequent generations. This beautifully traces the sport from dirt tracks to elaborate simulators, using photorealistic animation to contrast dusty spin-outs with gleaming glass and steel. Still, most sequences are over-thought, from McQueen's paint-job to the epic final race's predictable twists.
The vocal cast adds nice touches along the way. And the witty script and corny sight gags keep the audience chuckling right through to the end. But anyone in need of logic in a premise will struggle with this set-up in which cars weirdly live human-style lives without people. So imagery and plot elements constantly throw us out of the story. Kids who aren't bothered by something like a herd of mooing tractors will love it. And even though this feels like a good place to stop, it's unlikely that Disney will be able to resist making more of these.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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