While the Cars franchise has not garnered the universal acclaim for Pixar that the Toy Story films and masterpieces like Up and Inside Out have, they remain popular enough that they’ve made a third one. It’s a fine movie to take the kids to, but nothing adults need to run out and see.
In a plot that mirrors Rocky III in many ways, the race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is humbled and defeated by a brash new challenger (Armie Hammer). He tries for a comeback under a new sponsor (Nathan Fillion), aided by an enthusiastic but awkward trainer (Cristela Alonzo) and a grizzled mentor (Chris Cooper).
The movie starts slowly and its first half is its weakest as it sputters through the standard fallen-hero-needs-redemption sports narrative. But around the time McQueen participates in a demolition derby, it picks up. The finale actually takes a mildly surprising turn. And even though it’s only in flashback scenes from the first film, it is nice to hear the voice of the late Paul Newman (as McQueen’s original mentor) on the silver screen again.