‘Cars 3, just what the series needs

The famed Cars franchise races back into cinemas. After the spy-themed fever dream that was Cars 2, the series has taken a cue from other trilogies before it and returned to its underdog story roots.

The focus switches back to Lightning McQueen this time around. The movie opens with Lightning on top of his game. Winning races, but without the ego that made him so unlikeable in the first film. Along comes Jackson Storm, a new breed of race car. It is the faster, stronger new hotness to Lightning's old and busted make and model. After an accident leaves Lightning the worse for wear, he has to rediscover his inner racer - or leave the racing to the new kids on the track.

The Cars films have always been the black sheep of the Pixar family. The decency of the first film was undercut by the second film's inadequacy. This film, however, builds upon the best elements of the series, providing perhaps the most heartfelt of the trilogy. Most of that is due to Lightning McQueen's introspective journey, as he comes to terms with his legacy and the life of a racer well past his prime.

If any of this sounds familiar, that's because it's par for the course with any long-running sports film franchise. The Rocky films are a good example. Cars 3 hits all the hallmarks of a sports film starring a long-established performer. It explores the mentor-mentee relationship, the challenges of an athlete growing old and, of course, the passing of the torch. For advent film fans, much of this will seem like old hat. However, for the target audience it tells its story with a pathos and resonance that far exceeded my expectations.

There are, of course, the humorous moments. My favourites are any pun to be made in a world of living vehicles.

Cars 3 is not a non-stop laugh machine. Many of the jokes won't get raucous laughs from the older audience members, though the kids will be entertained. The characters, though, are charming and gives the movie an endearing quality, with an ending that deviates from expectation.

Parents won't suffer through this one like most other kids' films and would do well to see this film at half-price.

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