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Cars 3 movie review: Girl power fuels this awesome animation

Durga M Sengupta | Updated on: 16 June 2017, 14:07 IST

When I saw the trailer for Cars 3 the first time, it was before Guardians of the Galaxy 2. And honestly, I groaned a little. Because while Hollywood has a legit sequel problem in general, it really goes overboard with animation.

Cars 3, fortunately, isn't just another tired sequel. Brian Fee's animated universe of talking cars manages to live up to the fun quotient of the first, while touching upon a rather serious subject with ease.

The story begins with #1 racer Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) reigning, that is, until a 'younger' car Jackson Storm (voiced by Armie Hammer) beats him hollow. McQueen can't keep up with Storm's technology, speed, or even looks.

To stay relevant, he finds himself repainted, rebranded and training with a young female car Cruz Ramirez (voiced by Cristela Alonzo), who treats him every bit like a grandpa. Ramirez, never having raced herself, is familiar with the high-tech needs of today. Equipped with all the technology a car like Storm has, there's just one thing Cruz lacks to become a racer – a male voice.

That's right. Female cars (even in this animated universe) must break the glass ceiling to race ahead. The only other 'older' female car to have done it before in her time got in by stealing a number and getting a spot.

Cars 3 is an entertainer. It has its fair share of light moments, with cow cars, Mater, and such. But more significantly, it has a message.

In a particularly poignant moment in the film, Cruz, after trying to communicate why she lacks the confidence, asks McQueen if he doubted he could succeed before his first race. He replies, armed with an ample dose of male privilege, “I never thought I couldn't.”

It's amazing that an animation is subverting norms. More so, when the film is about cars, a machine most progressive liberals would deem unfit for female drivers. And they'd declare so with a straight face, as though it were written in religious scriptures.

For boys in the audience, this film could mean a moment of realisation that all these sexist stereotypes are hogwash. For little girls, it would mean a female car to add to their collectibles from the next outing at the toy store. For grown-ups, it could serve to embarrass, or better, to curb the instinct to spew sexist garbage the next time they're seated next to a woman driver.

Animation always has a predictable ending, and that's part of its charm. Here though, even after you predict it, it comes as a surprise. It is just so unusual to see a woman take centrestage in a masculine, pumped up, male-dominated field, and actually beat them.

As Cruz wins the race, using a classic move she learnt from none other than the legendary Doc Hudson, young boys in my theatre cheered and clapped. And right after that shot, a character in the film expressed my astonishment.

“This is big!” announced a male TV presenter in the film. A female TV presenter parked by him, quietly acknowledged, “This IS big”. And it truly is.

Should you watch it?

Yes, absolutely, and take all animation-friendly adults and kids you know. This one needs to be watched. Oh, and if you liked the first Cars film, there's even more reason to go.

Rating: 4/5

First published: 16 June 2017, 14:07 IST
Durga M Sengupta @the_bongrel

Feminist and culturally displaced, Durga tries her best to live up to her overpowering name. She speaks four languages, by default, and has an unhealthy love for cheesy foods. Assistant Editor at Catch, Durga hopes to bring in a focus on gender politics and the role in plays in all our interactions.