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These Engines Have Heart

Saturday, June 17, 2017
By Deepa Gahlot

Cars  3
Brian Fee
Cast: Owen Wilson, Christela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Armie Hammer and others
Rating: * * *

The 'Cars' movies may not be high up on the Pixar pedestal of winners like 'Finding Nemo', 'Ratatouille' or 'WALL- E', but there is something funky about a world made up of anthropomorphic automobiles.

'Cars 3' directed by Brian Fee, may have nothing new to offer in terms of plot, but it has its heart (or engine?) in the right place. In the era of blatant ageism, the once invincible racer Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) finds himself upstaged by brash newcomer Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), who is outfitted with the state- of- the- art technology.

As it happens, an over- the- hill champ has as many sneering detractors (the TV show host) as well as old pals who do not give up faith in him, like Sally (Bonnie Hunt) and the buck- toothed (buck-fendered, actually) Tow Man (Larry The Cable Guy). What Lightning needs is to train harder and get his morale up if he is to stay well ahead of the young brat pack.

His glib new sponsor Sterling (Nathan Fillion), offers Lightning his spanking new training facility with tread mills and racing simulators and a tough- talking trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), but what he really wants is a big name to endorse his Rust- eze products.

This is obviously not the way to go, so Lightning returns to his past, where he had trained with his mentor Doc Hudson (the late Paul Newman’s voice reproduced) and looks for his old repair truck, Smokey (Chris Cooper), who teaches him a few things about survival and growing up.

Even though so much of it is formulaic, Fee does pull off a fabulous twist in the end that recognizes the end of car racing as a macho sport. The animation is wonderful (the bovine car stampede is awesome), the film a breezy, colourful delight, that talks of matters of the spirit, so often overlooked for shallow vanity or material gain.

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