Cast: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt, Cristela Alonzo
Director: Brian Fee
Cars and humans have had a special chemistry ever since they were invented, it gave humanity the much-needed speed for its progress, and suddenly the world seemed a smaller place. These automobiles, parts of a machinery moving together could create such power. Gradually it became associated with symbols of masculinity, sexism etc. Soon they also evolved in different shapes and sizes giving themselves more character and personality, so much so, that soon one could understand a man’s taste by the car he drives and the fineness of the machine by the man who drove it. Cars also became so much entwined with cinema that you couldn’t imagine a film without it, either the protagonist driving it, or the police car chasing the hooligans or a beautiful girl getting stranded because of car trouble and eventually falling in love with the man who stopped to help.
Cars have also been presented in different characters in different films mostly with respect to the relationship the owner seemed to develop with the car. In year 2006 came Cars, and it completely ruptured that relationship. Suddenly cars could speak and not communicate simply by throwing tantrums like they used to do. It was alive and did not need humans to feel validated. The third addition to the series is quite similar to the previous one and there seems to be a generic plot structure here with a beginning, where Lightning looses the race and goes into an existential crisis, comes on the verge of breaking down and giving up, meets old pals, tries to find motivation and ends up winning the race. What started in the year 2006 is finally come to a full circle. Lightning McQueen, the prodigy who made us fall in love with the race track in a totally humane way, has found his own protégé while trying to recover his own Mojo.
Lightning goes through the usual motions of denial, then acknowledgement, then trying to find solutions to his problems and while he is at it, connects with his old pals who help him regain the motivation and focus required for the race. Disney and Pixar studios have mastered this art of very controlled maneuvering where they take the audience through the motions themselves. It does not feel like you are watching a real story or something that could be remotely real. On the contrary, it feels like a very well planned and articulated roller-coaster ride that makes you feel the emotions exactly where it is designed to make you feel. While Disney and Pixar may pride themselves in the fact that in a mere two hours time frame they are able to bombard you with life lessons, they must realize that the audience soon becomes immune to all that.
Sure it is entertaining and gives you a momentary kick but the buzz leaves you as soon as you have left the theater, especially in the case of Cars. This installment of the series focused on the new world of futuristic designs and tools taking over the old world of emotions and raw power. Lightning has had glorious racing careers, but its time now for the younger generation to take over. What makes it interesting is that he discovers his protégé in the most unexpected car, a trainer car that has no real racing experience and on top of that is a female, Cruz Ramirez. She has been bullied and pushed to the corner that she gave up on racing altogether and was content on being a trainer, when she meets Lightning, who has been her inspiration while growing up. By a twist of fate and some intelligent maneuvering, the race is won, only this time it is Cruz, motivated by Lightning who reaches the finish line. I am wondering if there would be a next installment and if so, would Cruz continue to finish races or would there be another twist to put the male back in the front....