Cars 3 (U)

Family (2017)
109mins US

Starring: Owen Wilson, Larry The Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt, Tony Shalhoub, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Armie Hammer, Nathan Fillion
Director: Brian Fee
Writer(s): Bob Peterson, Kiel Murray, Mike Rich, Brian Fee
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Lightning McQueen returns from a horrific crash to prove that he has the speed and the tyres to compete with a new generation of turbo-charged racers led by the charismatic Jackson Storm. He heads to the Rust-eze Racing Center owned by mud flap king Sterling, who assigns inspirational trainer Cruz Ramirez to improve Lightning's speed and stamina. Before the pivotal race in Florida, Lightning and Cruz track down Doc's revered mentor, Smokey, and learns a few old tricks to beat Jackson.

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LondonNet Film Review
Cars 3 (U)

Success and failure are two sides of the same shiny coin. To truly appreciate the exhilaration of winning, you also have to experience crushing disappointment and then muster the strength of character to try again, even if it ends in more pain. As one turbo-charged character in director Brian Fee's well-oiled road movie proclaims: "You can use anything negative as fuel to push through to the positive". The computer animation wizards at Disney Pixar have been blazing a trail to the positive since their wildly imaginative debut, Toy Story...

Cars 3. Copyright: 2016 Disney Pixar. Caption: Jackson Storm (voiced by Armie Hammer) and Lightening McQueen (Owen Wilson) in Cars 3. All Rights Reserved.This second sequel to the 2006 coming-of-age comedy Cars is unlikely to tarnish the studio's golden lustre, continuing the misadventures of anthropomorphised vehicles, who orbit championship racing car Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson). Themes of self-sacrifice and perseverance are pumped into the film's fuel tank, and are reflected in writer-director Dave Mullins' heartbreaking computer-animated short film, Lou, which precedes the main feature. Three scriptwriters jumpstart what appears to be a conventional comeback story but take us on a surprisingly different emotional journey that leaves the boot unlocked for further instalments of the franchise.

Cars 3 begins in familiar territory with Lightning screeching to victory in the Piston Cup until cocksure rookie Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) steals his thunder. "I can't believe I got to race Lightning McQueen in his farewell season!" arrogantly whoops Storm. A high-speed collision wrecks Lightning's chances of retaining his crown and he retires to Radiator Springs in the company of tow truck Mater (Larry The Cable Guy) and his sweetheart Sally (Bonnie Hunt). Fond memories of mentor Doc Hudson (Paul Newman) compel Lightning to hit the comeback trail and he heads to the Rust-eze Racing Center owned by Sterling (Nathan Fillion), "the mud flap king of the eastern seaboard". Sterling assigns trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) to improve Lightning's speed and stamina. "I call you my senior project," affectionately jokes Cruz. With a pivotal race in Florida looming on the horizon, Lightning and Cruz forego last minute tweaks to track down Doc's revered mentor, Smokey (Chris Cooper). En route, they take part in a mud-spattered demolition derby against school bus Miss Fritter (Lea DeLaria) and learn priceless secrets from veteran cars River Scott (Isiah Whitlock Jr) and Louise "Barnstormer" Nash (Margo Martindale).

Cars 3 is the most poignant film in the series, striking a pleasing balance between heartfelt sentiment, belly laughs and dazzling artistry. The quality of the animation is flawless, including pristine reflected surfaces in high-speed races and some cute visual gags. Admittedly, director Fee and his team don't reinvent the steering wheel but they do manage to tinge even the most colour-saturated scenes with aching sadness and a wistful yearning for the simple pleasures of the past.

- Sam Cannon

Cars 3. Copyright: 2016 Disney Pixar. Caption: Jackson Storm (voiced by Armie Hammer) and Lightening McQueen (Owen Wilson) in Cars 3. All Rights Reserved.

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