Thursday, June 15, 2017


So CARS 3 has finally rolled into into movie theaters and of course my kids and I raced over to our local MJR Cinema to see the newest adventure of Lightning McQueen and friends.  I've been enthusiastically anticipating going on a family outing to see CARS 3 since having the opportunity to meet with the movie's creative dynamic duo, Jay Schuster and Jay Ward, at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year.  When I mentioned that my daughter was a big fan of the Cars movies, Schuster noted so was his and they had really put some effort into making this story inspirational for female fans. While watching this movie you'll notice they've incorporated several new female characters who play important roles in the story.  These include:


She becomes Lightning McQueen's personal trainer as he tries to revamp his racing style to become more competitive against a new generation of more technologically advanced cars that are emerging on the Piston Cup circuit.  There is a Millennial versus Generation X dynamic that plays out between Cruz and McQueen as both try to get a better understanding of each others differing perspective of both racing and the world around them.


Statistics are the name of the game in sports today whether you are talking about sabermetrics in baseball or performance analytics on the race course these numbers are being heavily scrutinized to provide a competitive edge.  Natalie Certain is a book-smart mathematician who also has a very polished and stylish look.  She is the go to authority on which cars have the edge in the Piston Cup races during their television broadcasts.  This character's role in the movie highlights how auto racing is changing on and off the track from the days when Lightning McQueen was a rookie.


The bad ass you don't want to mess with in this movie isn't some tank of a guy but rather a lady school bus.  She keeps a collection of license plates hanging from her frame taken from all of the cars she's crushed.  Miss Fritter isn't a villain though.  She's just one tough cookie who has no problem playing with the boys.


Instead of trying to beat the new rookies on the track by their own game, Lightning hunts down friends of his mentor Doc Hudson to see if these racing legends can provide him an old-school edge in beating his new competition.  He meets up with a number of legendary race cars including the "First Lady of Racing" Louise Barnstormer Nash.  After having to steal her racing number to compete in her first race because females weren't allowed to compete, Nash earned respect on the track for her fearless driving style and for beating the Fabulous Hudson Hornet in three back-to-back races during the early years of the Pistons Cup.

My daughter was delighted by the inclusion of more female characters within the movie.  What was nice about these characters were they weren't just in the background but all play important roles in the movie's plot.  The movie has a subtle female empowerment theme to it meant to encourage the little girls in the audience like mine and Schuster's daughters to be encouraged not to be intimidated in pursuing their dreams whether they may be racing cars or running the company that is building them.

Of course boys will like this movie too!  CARS 3 is full of vibrant and dynamic settings that make you feel like these cartoonish characters could be racing around in a real world setting instead of in an animated movie.  The scenery and backgrounds are stunning and the animation of the characters is top-notch.

Taking the popularity of Mater from the first movie, PIXAR developed CARS 2 to be a humorous comedy revolving around the rusty tow truck.  CARS 3 goes back to the racing roots of the original CARS movie.  Mater is in the movie of course, but his antics are much more subdued.  Luigi and Guido, the "tire guys," are the beneficiaries of this getting much more screen time than in previous movies.  Don't worry though, Mater still gets his moments in the spot light!

CARS 3 begins with Lightning McQueen having been racing for 10 years (the actual time period between the release of CARS and CARS 3 is also what has transpired in the movie) and has won 5 Piston Cup championships over that period.  He and the other cars he has been competing against over the years are suddenly blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers.  One by one rookies replace the veteran racers. Trying to get back to the front of the pack, McQueen turns to an eager young race technician named Cruz Ramirez  for help plus gets some inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet.  Making his way through some unexpected turns #95 shows that he isn't done yet.  Can Lightning McQueen win another Piston Cup and take another cruise through victory lane?  You'll have to see the movie to find out!

My son really enjoyed the movie because of all of the racing scenes in it and he was awed by the new race cars in the movie.  He said they were really cool looking and in fact he was rooting for Jackson Storm, the rookie sensation who is the main nemesis in the movie, to win the races.   He said Jackson Storm had an awesome look and he liked the car's wining attitude.  Sorry Lightning!

My daughter was more torn by the movie.  She really liked the female characters and their role in the movie, but she also said the film had a more serious tone to it than the previous Cars films which made her sad.  She wished they had made a few more light-hearted movies about McQueen and his friends from Radiator Springs having fun adventures instead of the current movie's dramatic plot about getting older and dealing with changing times.

From a parent's perspective, I appreciate the movie is rated G making it a great selection for a summer family outing to the movie theater.  CARS 3 has incredible visual effects, some wonderful comedic moments and great characters.  I really liked them incorporating the legendary race cars into the story too.

On a more critical note, unlike the past movies that had a really nice pace to them, there were parts to CAR 3 that just seemed to drag on and on.  Plus the tension of McQueen's fate, like my daughter pointed out, was like an emotional anchor that really did drag the fun factor of the movie down.  Despite that criticism, I would recommend going to see CAR 3 though because you'll appreciate the theater experience of viewing the movie on the big screen and it is overall was an enjoyable kid-friendly summer movie that parents can feel comfortable taking their children to.

A Geek Daddy has some fun CARS 3 activity sheets and a build it yourself board game you can download for some extra summer time fun.  For more information about the movie, please visit

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