Remember Lightning McQueen — the Piston Cup racecar champion who nearly always won and “ate losers for breakfast”?
Of course. Everyone does. Except Lightning McQueen.
“Did I used to say that?” he asks at the beginning of the new movie Cars 3 (G), struggling to recall his boast-filled winning days.
Sadly, time has caught up with our beloved hero. He’s still funny, yes, but he’s no longer fast – at least not as fast as rookie sensation Jackson Storm, who is using the latest technology to win race after race. Lighting (voiced by Owen Wilson) tops out around 198 mph. And Storm? He’s zooming along at 210.
“Enjoy your retirement!” Storm tells him.
It’s like watching an aging Muhammad Ali. Or Michael Jordan. Or even Peyton Manning.
Things go from bad to worse when Lightning blows a tire and suffers a horrific, season-ending crash that sends him back to Radiator Springs. Sure, most talking racecars would have called it quits, but this is Lightning McQueen. He’s going to regain the magic and get back to his winning ways … right?
An energetic female trainer named Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) – who had dreams as a young girl of being a racecar driver — is given the task of getting Lightning back on the track.
“I grew up watching you on TV,” she says, excitedly.
Cars 3 is one of the most family-friendly films I’ve ever seen. There’s no coarse language, no violence (unless you count the car crashes), and no sexuality.
It’s also one of the most enjoyable animated movies I’ve watch, even if it’s not as good as the first film in this series. (It hits a lull in the middle of the film, but recovers nicely to finish strong.)
Finally, Cars 3 is packed with life lessons. Lightning provides powerful lessons on humility and handling adversity. His friends give us a lesson on supporting a friend when he/she is down. And, the movie tosses us a surprising lesson on mentorship.
Entertainment rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
— Michael Foust
Foust has covered the film industry for more than a decade. Visit his website, MichaelFoust.com