Cars 3

by Greg Vellante

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday June 16, 2017

'Cars 3'
'Cars 3'  

Since 2006, Pixar Animation has abandoned its principles every five years or so to turn a trick. It dresses up in bright colors, puts on its lipstick and proceeds to shamelessly cultivate a juicy profit. In every case, the end result is always the same: Pixar fills its pockets, while the average American parent gets screwed.

The "Cars" franchise, now three films in with the arrival of "Cars 3," has always chosen commerce over creativity. For every "Up" and "Wall-E" and "Ratatouille," there must also be a "Cars" movie to help keep the lights on, both literally and metaphorically. These movies offer thin plots and one-dimensional characters, presented with an illusion of depth that never matches its aspired profundity, all with the end goal of selling toys, t-shirts, lunchboxes, sneakers and everything in between.

The studio is essentially mirroring the merchandisable success of its "Toy Story" trilogy, but without any of the wit, warmth or sentiment. Where "Toy Story 2" had a moving subplot involving Jessie the Cowgirl's abandonment by her original owner, "Cars 2" spent the entire film as a silly, spy-themed vehicle for Larry the Cable Guy's tow truck character, Mater. Similarly, "Cars 3" attempts to tackle many of the themes presented in "Toy Story 3" -- how things change over time, existential fear and the search for meaning -- but the former executes its attempts in such a hokey way that it's like comparing a three-course meal at a five-star restaurant to a box of sugary cereal purchased at your local dollar store.

But like that cheap, sugary cereal, kids will eat it up and ask for even more. Parents are the ones subjected to suffer in these cases, both financially and psychologically. First comes the incessant begging from your kids to see the film in theaters, where you'll spend over 50 dollars on tickets, popcorn and candy to spend two hours in a theater filled with underdeveloped people who haven't yet comprehended the idea of being quiet during the duration of a movie (before, of course, they grow up to exchange their loud exclamations for a brightened cell phone screen).

Ultimately though, after the credits have concluded is when parents will truly feel the pain. The film introduces new characters that kids will want to add to their collection of toys, but perhaps the cleverest thing "Cars 3" accomplishes is creating an entire premise that is designed to climax with an advertisement. The film follows famed race car Lightning McQueen as he begins to realize he's not the hotshot he used to be, consistently being edged out by a younger generation of performance vehicles. After a dull and stretched out hullabaloo of a plot, Lightning McQueen realizes his new purpose, potential and takes on a brand new look.

McQueen's updated look comes with a spanking new blue coat of paint, a sharp contrast from his vibrant red, along with a new logo and even a revised moniker -- "The Fabulous Lightning McQueen." As such, Pixar figured out how to sell the same exact toy again, just with a different outfit. If only this franchise justified this blatant marketing ploy, but alas. Bend over, parents, it's happening again.


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