Disney and Pixar pulled of something truly astounding over the summer – they made a third entry in the franchise that surpassed the previous two. Granted, Cars has always been the weak spot in the otherwise pristine lineup of Pixar movies, and Cars 2 represents the digital animated studio’s nadir. So entering Cars 3 with a bit of depressed expectations this summer led to rather surprising little kids movie. The nonsensical spy subplot of Cars 2 is all but abandoned and ignored in favor of a sequel that aligns closer to the first film, and winds up being a lengthy homage to the legendary Paul Newman. Now Cars 3 races onto Blu-ray and DVD, and like the finer Pixar fare, Cars 3 has plenty to entertain the adults as it captivates the imagination of children.
This time around, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is back on the race track and at the top of his game. However, the glory days for Lightning McQueen aren’t going to be long lasting as the top spot on the racing circuit is soon taken over by Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), a NextGen racer that is sleeker and faster than the older McQueen. After a brutal crash, McQueen must then rebuild himself in the hopes of making it back on the track, but he’s got to work hard to get fast enough to keep up with the NextGen racers that are redefining the sport. In order to get back to form, McQueen teams with Sterling (Nathan Fillion), a business tycoon willing to bankroll McQueen’s quest. Sterling sets McQueen up with a new trainer in Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), though her new techniques rub the veteran racer the wrong way. However, Lightning McQueen must face the facts and realize that he’s not the young hotshot speedster that he used to be and embrace new ideas in order to regain his form.
And of course, the world of Cars 3 is populated with colorful eccentrics, headlined by Larry the Cable Guy’s bumpkin tow truck Mater, whose role is minimized compared to the previous entries. Some of the new additions to the world that breathe new life into the franchise are Natalie Certain (Kerry Washington), the statistical analyst on racing television; Miss Fritter (Lea DeLaria), a decommissioned school bus that now runs a demolition derby; and couple of old-timer racers that were friends with Doc (Newman), River Scott (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) and Louise Nash (character actress Margot Martindale). All these various characters allow director Brian Fee’s movie to focus simultaneously on plenty of light humor accentuated by colorful characters and the story’s dramatic heart about accepting the changes that we’ll all be forced to go through.
On the Blu-ray is a number of special features, headlined by the Pixar short that preceded the movie, the absolutely delightful Lou. There’s also a brand new short focusing on Miss Fritter and her mud-soaked demolition derbies, adding a bit more fun to one of the film’s more fun characters. Other features include featurettes about the lengthy development process of the film and audio commentary from director Brian Fee and others. Those special features are simply limited to the disc feature simply the movie. There’s an entire other disc jam-packed full of special features, including an array of behind the scenes featurettes that provide viewers with a glimpse into just how much effort and artistry goes into bringing a Pixar film to the screen.
Cars 3 is a nice piece of entertainment for children and adults alike. The fact that this movie is a minor work from that dream factory known as Pixar just shows how ridiculously high they’ve set the bar on children’s films that appeal beyond the young target audience. Here they’ve presented their film with a wide variety of special features that present viewers with an understanding to just how much work and care goes into these animated marvels.