Cars 3 Brings Lightning McQueen Full Circle

Cars is not my favorite Pixar franchise. I liked the first film well enough, but didn’t even make it through the second. Don’t get me wrong, I still love visiting Radiator Springs at Disneyland, but overall the films have just not been at the top of my list. That being said, I connected more to Cars 3 than I did any of the other Cars films.

Following veteran racer, Lightning McQueen, Cars 3 finds McQueen facing his own significance as younger competitors are arriving on the scene and stealing his thunder (pun intended?). Pushing himself to the limit to beat the youngsters and their high tech racing style leads McQueen to suffer a possibly career-ending crash. However, determined to go out on his own terms, McQueen plans a comeback with the help of a new trainer, Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) and new sponsor, Sterling (Nathan Fillion). The result is a journey that Lightning McQueen never expected to take.

There are several things about this film that resonated with me more than the previous Cars movies, but the most prominent was the introduction of Cruz Ramirez. The age of female leads has made it’s way to the Cars franchise and I couldn’t be more pleased with the character of Cruz Ramirez.  From her bright peppy, can-do personality to the story of how she became a trainer, she embodies everything that modern women face on a daily basis.

I was not expecting for Cars 3 to delve so deep into the struggles still faced by women, but it does and it tackles the issues in such a relatable way. We get to see this young, talented woman (okay, yes in car form) go on a journey of self discovery. She has to learn to slough off all of the identifiers and challenges placed on her by others in order to reach her full potential, and the result is really moving.

Look, I know the start of the movie is Lightning McQueen and the central storyline is his coming to terms with his future as a racer, but this movie is really so much more than that. For instance in one scene, old timers, Louise Nash (Margo Martindale) and River Scott (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) talk about having to fight for the right to race. The racing world didn’t want and thus excluded Louise, a woman, and River, a black man. Again, these themes are not the central storyline, but they were poignant and  fairly prominent.

I’m still not prepare to bump the Cars franchise up on my list of favorite Pixar films. However, I really recommend seeing the film. It is a fun film for the whole family and kids are sure to love it.




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