Tyler K. Lopez
Ka-Chow! Remember that? That’s the zinger line from Lightning McQueen who cruised into theaters with “Cars” in 2006 and yes that’s eleven years ago! Does that feel like a long time ago? It should! Because the whole premise of this movie is an athlete past his prime. Think like the old man version of Kobe Bryant on the Lakers in 2016, but sadder because it’s animated and there are kids in the theater crying dealing with the decline of their favorite talking car. Alright let’s get this thing… rolling!… Oh yeah! We’re just getting started!… Buckle Up!… Okay I’ll stop (sign). Alright now I’ll stop (no I won’t, there’s puns forever in this review).
1- Writing: 9/10
The writing team on this movie is full of A-list writers whose names you don’t know. Mike Rich has a great history with sports movies and helped write “Radio”, “The Rookie”, and “Secretariat”. Kiel Murray helped write the original “Cars” story. Oh and Bob Peterson has worked on a handful of animated movies you may have heard of: “Up”, “Finding Nemo”, and “Finding Dory”. So yes the writing was great.
2- Direction: 8/10
Brian Fee! He’s the hottest new name in the business! Well maybe, maybe not I don’t actually know, but he did a great job in this movie. The pace is solid, there’s a good flow through the movie. He lets the emotional points hit and lets the story build the right way. Did I mention this is his directorial debut?? Awesome job, Brian! You’re the man. You’re in the driver seat now! Heh… yep.
3- Cinematography: 8/10
If you watched the trailer there’s a particularly heart-wrenching scene where Lightning is in bad shape on the track. I figured that was probably going to be the only dramatic shot in a movie about an anthropomorphic car with googly eyes there wasn’t going to be many dramatic shots. I was wrong! The movie is actually very good-looking. It’s a handsome movie is what it is.
4- Acting: 8/10
The cast for this movie is actually fantastic. You’ve got your returning studs like Owen Wilson, Tony Shaloub, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, and the amazing Paul Newman. You’ve got your studly newbies in Nathan Fillion, Armie Hammer, and Kerry Washington. The surprise of the movie though was relative acting newbie Cristela Alonzo who only started acting in 2011 and has done mostly television acting.
5- Editing: 7/10
I thought it was solid. The movie run is just eleven minutes shy of two hours which is fairly long for an animated movie. I thought the 3rd act sort of sped up too much and we skipped through a couple tough conversations, but all in all it was fine. Let’s just keep this thing rolling right along (the puns won’t stop so stop trying to fight them).
6- Sound: 7/10
The sounds of the movie were fine. I suppose someone more familiar with different car engines might have a more detailed opinion than me. To me the sound sounded good and I’ll leave it at that. I have a way with words.
7- Soundtrack/Score: 10/10
The score is by Randy freaking Newman okay? You ever wonder why some moments in animated movies hit you right in the heart? I bet you Randy knows why they did and is laughing evilly while he plucks at your heartstrings and tear ducts. There are moments in this movie that are truly emotional and that shouldn’t happen with a talking car with googly eyes, but it does. Randy Newman is a part of it. If that name rings a bell and you can’t remember why, just think back and remember what your all pal said: you’ve got a friend in me. Okay I’ll just keep motoring along now.
8- Production Design: 8/10
Great production design. Every set in the movie looked like… well like an animated movie. Still though an enormous part of the fun for these movies is the creativity that goes into creating a world where cars are people. They don’t really go into a ton of detail on locations, but there’s enough there to make things fun for people in those areas. Shout out to the Los Angeles Coliseum!
9- Casting: 9/10
Just tremendous work casting this movie. The casting directors Kevin Reher and Natalie Lyon have been populating your favorite animated movies since 2003 meaning they’re responsible for “Wall-E”, “The Incredibles”, “Cars”, “Ratatouille”, Cars 2″, “Toy Story 3”, “Brave”, “Up”, “Inside Out”, and “Finding Dory”. So just a few good ones… My favorite stroke of genius in this cast though was the relative newcomer Cristela Alonzo. Her stature in the industry and with this cast speaks volumes to the character she portrays in the movie. Brilliant casting.
10- Effects: 9/10
The effects are tremendous. I covered it a bit with cinematography, but the effects in this movie were actually gorgeous. The world had a sleek look to it that was perfect for the storytelling and made Lightning McQueen look old by comparison. It was brilliant. I know I just used that word. Don’t worry about it the finish line is in sight!
Overall Score: 8.3/10
Not bad at all! This movie really has it all: laughs, cars, drama, tractors, tow trucks, tires, accents, dusty roads. The plot is a lot like Rocky III where the title character faces his own mortality in the ring (sort of pun with a race track? No? eh I’d like to see you do better) but this movie has a different twist at the end. I’d recommend this movie for sure! Honestly you don’t even need to have watched the other two movies to enjoy and understand this one and isn’t that the mark of a great sequel? I’ll see you guys around next time!