Normally I watch a trailer for a movie and know just enough to be amused by the sassy dialogue, intrigued by the dynamic camera shot, or excited by the possibility of a sequel, remake, reboot, or movie based on a good book. Normally the trailer, particularly the first trailer, doesn’t hold my interest in the way Cars 3 did.
It’s no surprise to anyone who’s met me or read any of my stuff, I love Disney. I love the movies, the parks, and own way too much Disney themed stuff to ever really justify. Still, Cars 3 might be my favorite, and Spoilers ahead!
When I saw the trailer, two things stood out. First and foremost, the accident. For those who aren’t mega Disney nerds, a bit of background. Cars was a movie about a rookie racer named Lightning McQueen with no room for both friends and his extraordinary ego, couldn’t play well with anyone, and focused solely on being the best. The only redeeming quality he had was that he was an inadvertent goofball. Through a series of mishaps, that were largely his fault, he ends up in a small town, and sentenced to community service. In typical Disney fashion, he learns his lesson, makes lots of friends, and goes on to be a better racer and a better friend.
What does this have to do with the wreck in the trailer? Easy. One of the secondary characters is Doc Hudson, a cranky doctor/ judge who reveals to McQueen that he was once a racer, but when he wrecked during a race, his career was abruptly ended, despite his desire to keep racing. His story is shown to have a huge impact on McQueen when his racing rival Strip “The King” Weathers crashes during his final race, McQueen, remembering Doc Hudson’s story, helps him finish the race in a show of compassion.
The first trailer showed Lightning McQueen crashing, then spinning through the air, and I immediately recalled Doc Hudson’s story. I knew then that this would be a movie about McQueen facing the same struggle that his mentor and friend faced, and I was not disappointed.
The second thing I noticed? The graphics had a more realistic feel to them. Instead of looking like a bright, stylized world with a shiny plastic feel like the first movie:
Still, what I loved most was the way the emotions and choices in the first movie came back in the second. Everything from a line of dialogue hurled at McQueen when Hudson vents his frustration at getting pushed out of racing. “They moved on! Down to the next rookie in line.” Is repeated teasingly by McQueen’s girlfriend “No matter what happens… I’m going to move on to the next rookie in line and forget all about you!” To the lesson “turn right to go left,” which Hudson imparts vaguely to explain how to drive quickly on a dirt road, and McQueen imparts impatiently to his inadvertent mentee Cruz Rameriz.
Which brings me to the best parallel of the whole movie. In Cars Hudson resents McQueen. He’s often harsh and nearly always inpatient. In Cars 3. McQueen has little respect or patience for Ramerez, and snaps at her often, although he eventually goes too far and afterwards he literally annoys her into accepting his apology.
McQueen is driven through the movie by the desire to not end up like Hudson, and his focus is on winning one more race, part of a bargain with his sponsor- he wins he doesn’t get forced into retirement. But in an act of compassion, he helps his mentee take his place, to help her with her dream of racing.
Just as Hudson becomes McQueen’s formal mentor at the end of Cars.
And for those of you wondering why I wrote an entire post on Cars and Cars 3, without a mention of Cars 2, it’s because McQueens development in Cars 2 consisted of getting headlights. The main focus of the movie was the goofy misadventures of Tow Mater.