3 Stars – Wholesome
CARS 3 is a film adults will not only enjoy along with their kids but will speak directly into our working lives. All of us have experienced the supervisor or coworker who has exceeded retirement age but continues to fill the position in denial of both their own aging skills as well as denying the next generation their opportunity. Such a person misses the joy of becoming the wise mentor to the younger workers and instead competes with them in a foolish game in which time itself is against them. This is the message of Brian Fee’s as writer and director of Cars 3.
As the title explains, this is the third film in the computer-generated Pixar and Disney partnership. We continue our journey from the second film in which Lightning McQueen (voice by Owen Wilson) is still mourning the loss of his mentor Doc Hudson (Paul Newman). Having a difficult season due to the speed of the younger racers he has secluded himself and is deciding whether to return to racing. Encouraged by the ensemble of Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), Sally (Bonnie Hunt), Luigi (Tony Shalhoub), Ramone (Cheech Marin), and others in Radiator Springs, Lightning decides to race again. Returning to his sponsors, Rusty (Tom Magliozzi) and Dusty (Ray Magliozzi), he discovers they have sold their company to a younger, wealthier Sterling (Nathan Fillion) who can offer him the latest in racing technology while cashing in on his fame. It is there that he meets his “trainer” the young Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo).
In this third film, the nemesis for Lightening is the arrogant younger racer Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). Representing a new generation of racers with top speeds well over ten miles per hour faster than Lightening’s, Storm’s abilities causes Sterling to lose confidence in Lightening. Fearing a losing season will harm the brand, Sterling tries to force Lightening to stop racing. Making a deal with Sterling that if he loses his first race he will give up racing and become the retired champion, Lightening begins a troubled relationship with his young trainer Cruz. Losing confidence in her to prepare him for the race of his future, Lightening returns to Doc Hudson’s home track and Hudson’s trainer Smokey (Chris Cooper). It is here that he discovers the secret to his own next season in life. Smokey explains to Lightening that Doc Hudson’s greatest days in his life were not spent on the track garnering his own trophies, but in being mentor to Lightening and helping him achieve his goals. This lesson is then played out in ways that we will not spoil.
The truth is that as we age, the greatest joys we experience come from our investment in the next generation during what psychologists call the stage of generativity. This investment is not focused on what we gain personally but what we help others to gain. In a way that is both insightful and instructive, Cars 3 is a great teacher of this important truth.
- The tendency to look out only for our own interests and not the interests of others can become such a way of life that we fight against our own aging process. As you are getting older how are you navigating this stage of generativity vs. stagnation?
- The fact that Cruz is a woman emphasizes that we often exclude rather than mentor the next generation of women. Are you investing in all who belong to the next generation, especially in those who are often put down or overlooked because of gender or race or socio-economic class?
- The training for the race that Smokey taught Lightening and Cruz included far more than speed. How have you been trained by your mentors to succeed in more than speed?