CARS 3 – a Blu-ray/DVD Review by John Strange
The Cars franchise grabbed our hearts almost from the first frame of Cars. Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) embodied everything we wanted to see in our favorite Nascar drivers. In Cars 3 we have the additional feelings as we deal with how we feel as we watch McQueen slowly realize that as a racer, his career has a finite number of years.
The journey to this realization leads McQueen and his trainer, Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) from the high tech halls of his sponsor at the Rust-eze Racing Center to the beach (reminiscent of Daytona's beaches) to the backwoods tracks of Georgia and South Carolina. From working the simulators with the new up-and-coming racers to a demolition derby filled with some awesome backwoods characters that the Pixar folks based on people they knew and, of all things, the faces of hockey players.
Lightning is faced at every turn with his age. It's slowly becomes apparent to him that things change and working with the change is better than fighting the certainty that change will come anyway. His path is really defined when he finds the track where his mentor Doc Hudson got his start.
This movie is a great story of someone who comes to terms with his limitations and finds a way to continue to be the best he can. The ending of this story is very satisfying.
The reason I love reviewing films like this is only partly for the film itself. The blu-ray release of this film is absolutely crammed with bonus features(see the full list below). I spent a half day just watching these features followed by the feature with the commentary turned on. I was entertained by the filmmakers as they discussed the hows and whys behind the storyline.
I learned that they were determined to have Doc Hudson in the film. They refused to even consider doing this with anyone but the man who created the role, Paul Newman. They reached out to his family and got permission to use lines they recorded during Mr. Newman's original recording sessions as he talked about his racing days.
Another voice they used posthumously was Tom Magliozzi (Rusty) who we lost in 2014. He and his brother Ray Magliozzi (Dusty) played the original owners of Rust-eze. In this film, they have sold the business to Sterling (Nathan Fillion). Their hope is that his greater wealth will help Lightning get even better at racing.
Getting back to the bonus features, I have to point out a couple up front that should be on your "must see" list when you get the disks. The first is the Pixar short that ran before the film during its theatrical run, Lou. This is a great short that teaches a little without being pushy about it. The playground at the school has a bully. He learns his lesson when the items from the "lost and found" box come to life and fight to prevent him from stealing them. It could have been a harsh story but like so many of Pixar's shorts, you get to the punchline and suddenly realize that the kid became a bully after being bullied. Lou connects with him and helps to heals him.
The second is also a short, this one only on the disks. In Miss Fritter's Racing Skool, they took the wild characters from the demolition derby in the film and made a "commercial" about Miss Fritter's traing program for derby drivers. It is a riot!
Other features cover such things as the three main characters (Cars 3 Car Reveals), stories about some of the fillmakers and voice talent's first cars (My First Car), and the use of signage and other graphics that have been "car-ified" (their word, not mine) in World’s Fastest Billboard.
The answers to why did they do this or that in the film are discussed in several of the bonuses. My favorites were Let’s. Get. Crazy, Legendary, and Generations: The Story of “Cars 3”. These behind the scenes looks at the film were fun to watch. I learned a lot from them.
But there were other educational pieces in the bonuses. These really satisfied my love of history as thet talked about the history of some of the racers who inspired the film's stand-out secondary characters (such as Miss Fritter). The best of these were Let’s. Get. Crazy. about demolition derby's and Legendary about racing legends Wendell Scott and Loise Smith.
This series has been something of a surprise to me. It is not often that I can say that each member of a film series is a good movie. Cars and sequels is one of the best series I have seen. Cars 3 is enjoyable for the whole family. The kids will love the characters like our perenial favorite, Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) and of course Lightning McQueen. The adults will enjoy the story and if they watch and listen closely, they will see all sorts of visual "easter eggs" and references to Nascar in the story. In fact, there are two easter eggs for the upcoming film, Coco!
Buy this one and enjoy! I did!
Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Nathan Fillion, Larry the Cable Guy, Armie Hammer, Ray Magliozzi, Tony Shalhoub, Bonnie Hunt, Lea DeLaria, Kerry Washington, Bob Costas, Margo Martindale, Darrell Waltrip, Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Blu-ray & Digital:
Miss Fritter’s Racing Skoool (Exclusive new mini-movie) – Enjoy blindsided testimonials from the Crazy 8’s, touting the transformative impact Miss Fritter’s Racing School has had in reshaping the direction of their lives
Theatrical Short: “Lou” – When a toy-stealing bully ruins recess for a playground full of kids, only one thing stands in his way: the “Lost and Found” box.
Let’s. Get. Crazy. – Get schooled in the world of demolition derby, the “rules” of figure 8 racing, and how Pixar puts the crazy in the Thunder Hollow Crazy 8 race. This piece is hosted by Lea DeLaria.
Legendary – a close, historical look at the racing legends Wendell Scott and Louise Smith, whose tenacity and perseverance got them into the race even when they weren’t invited.
Ready for the Race – Disney Channel’s Olivia Rodrigo and NASCAR Racer William Byron check out the Hendrick Motorsports campus to showcase how real-world race training influenced the filmmakers.
World’s Fastest Billboard – Blink and you will miss all of the graphics and “car-ified” advertisements created by Pixar’s Art team to make the ”Cars 3” world as believable as possible.
Cruz Ramirez: The Yellow Car That Could – Join Cristela Alonzo and the filmmakers on their journey to create a race-car trainer turned champion racer.
Generations: The Story of “Cars 3” – For the story team, creating Lightning McQueen’s next chapter didn’t involve just a tune-up, but a complete overhaul.
My First Car – A collection of illustrated first-car stories as narrated by members of the “Cars 3” cast and crew. “A Green Car on the Red Carpet with Kerry Washington,” “Old Blue,” and “Still in the Family.”
5 Deleted Scenes – Each deleted scene is set up with an introduction as to why it was removed from the film. Deleted scenes include “The Boogie Woogie,” “The Jars of Dirt,” “Lugnut,” “The Bolt,” and “More Than New Paint.”
Cars To Die(cast) For – Take a look at the phenomenon of die-cast toy collecting and the more than 1,000 unique designs that exist in the Cars universe.
Commentary – Brian Fee (Director), Kevin Reher (Producer), Andrea Warren (Co-Producer) and Jay Ward (Creative Director)
Cars 3 Trailers
Cars 3 Car Reveals
Cars 3 Set Fly-Throughs
Selig Rating Scale:
BRAND NEW: Should add to your DVD collection at any cost
SALE ITEM: Worth owning, but try to catch it a sale
SECOND HAND: Plan to get it, but wait to buy it used
RENTAL: Worth taking a look at, but not owning
COASTER: Pick it up at a garage sale and use it for drinks
PULL!: Makes a great Trap Shooting target