Cars 3

Cars 3

Posted on June 15, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: G
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Peril and some violence including fiery car crashes, references to sad death
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: June 17, 2017
Date Released to DVD: November 6, 2017
Copyright Disney/Pixar 2017

It’s better than “Cars 2,” but not as good as the first “Cars,” so it continues the saga of the second tier of Pixar movies.  Second-tier Pixar is pretty good. But this time the storyline is unlikely to be of much interest to children.  They’ll enjoy the race scenes (except for the ones that are too scary) and the silly humor.  But the theme of this film is the existential dilemma of an aging athlete.  While “Inside Out” and “Toy Story 3” addressed issues of growing older/up with infinite tenderness and sensitivity, “Cars 3,” with the help of generous samples of Paul Newman’s Doc Hudson character from the first film, has appropriated the plots of many of the “Rocky” movies, with now-champion Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) confronted with his own mortality.  I know; they’re machines, but apparently they have parents and childhoods and lifespans.

Lightning is beaten by a super-slick competitor dashingly named Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), who looks like he is visiting from another Disney movie, “Tron.”  And there’s another blow.  Lightning has loved being sponsored by his friends at Rust-Eze, but the company has been sold and his new sponsor is the smooth, corporate Sinclair (Nathan Fillion), who tells him that if he does not win his next race, he has to stop racing all together.

But racing is all Lightning knows or cares about.  If he can’t race, who is he?

Sinclair has a very high-tech training facility that’s all about cybermetrics. Lighting is assigned a new trainer, Cruz (Cristela Alonzo), who is essentially a stopwatch on wheels.  Everything is about readouts and algorithms.  Lightning takes her out on the beach to show her what real racing is.  And he decides that his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, I mean Doc Hudson, may be gone, but perhaps he can find Doc’s mentor, and gain some wisdom.

Lighting and Cruz end up competing in what they think is a race but what turns out to be a demolition derby (pretty scary for G).  They squabble and make up and Cruz confides that she once dreamed of racing.  They do find Doc’s old friends, led by Smokey (Chris Cooper) and his adorable sidekicks.

It has talking cars, and kids will like that. And it doesn’t have the bombast and over-complexity of “Cars 2.”  But it also does not have the heart we have come to rely on from Pixar, and if we feel disappointed, it is only because they have set the bar so high.

Parents should know that despite the G rating, this film has characters in peril including scary 3D car crashes and fire, many references to a sad death and to the challenges of aging, and a reference to unsupportive parents.

Family discussion: Why did Lou take other children’s toys? Who is your mentor and who can you help as Doc Hudson helped Lightning?

If you like this, try: the other “Cars” movies and “A Bug’s Life”

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The Summer Blockbuster Season Starts This Week!  Here’s What’s Coming

The Summer Blockbuster Season Starts This Week! Here’s What’s Coming

Posted on May 1, 2017 at 8:00 am


Believe it or not, the summer blockbuster movie season starts this week, and we are getting a bunch of big movies over the next three months. Summer means superheroes, sequels, family movies, raunchy comedies, and quirky indies. The summer of 2017 has all of that and more. Here’s a peek at what’s coming.

May 3

“Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2” They’re back to save the universe again, with another rockin’ soundtrack of 70’s hits, and Kurt Russell joins the cast.

May 5

“The Dinner” Brothers, one a smooth politician (Richard Gere), one a bitter schoolteacher (Steve Coogan), and their wives (Rebecca Hall and Laura Linney) get together for a wildly expensive dinner and a very tough conversation.

May 12

“Snatched” Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer play a mother and daughter who have some exciting and hilarious adventures on a trip to South America.

“Paris Can Wait” Diane Lane stars in a story about a woman whose trip to Paris has some unexpected detours.

“King Arthur: Legends of the Sword” The Guy Ritchie version of the classic tale stars Charlie Hunnam.

May 19

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” A Heffley family road trip to attend Meemaw’s 90th birthday party goes hilariously off course thanks to Greg’s newest scheme to get to a video gaming convention.

“Everything Everything” Amandla Stenberg (Rue in “Hunger Games”) plays a sheltered teen who has been confined to her home all her life because of illness — until she meets the boy next door.

“Baywatch” Co-star Zac Efron calls this affectionate and sometimes silly feature based on the television series “a high five to summer.”

May 26

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” We get a glimpse of a young Captain Jack Sparrow in this new entry in the series based on a theme park ride.

“War Machine” Brad Pitt stars in this sharp satire about a four-star general.

June 2

“Captain Underpants” Two fourth graders (voices of Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch) hypnotize their nerdy principal into thinking he is a superhero in this animated film based on the wildly popular series of books.

“Wonder Woman” Gal Gadot plays the Amazonian superheroine Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins (“Monster”).

“I, Daniel Blake” Ken Loach directed this award-winning film about people crushed by the bureaucracy of the social safety net in the UK.

June 9

“The Mummy” Tom Cruise stars in this update of the classic horror tale.

“My Cousin Rachel” Daphne du Maurier’s book about a mysterious woman stars Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin.

June 16

“Cars 3” Lighting McQueen and Mater are back for another race, this time against a new generation of competitors.

“All Eyez on Me” The biopic of rap star Tupac Shakur, starring Demetrius Shipp Jr.

“The Book of Henry” A gifted child and his single mother try to help a young girl in danger.

“Maudie” A disabled young woman becomes an artist and finds love.

“Rough Night” Scarlett Johansson has a wild bachelorette party that goes very wrong in this raunchy dark comedy, one of two Girls Gone Wild-style takes on a “Hangover” comedy this summer.

June 23

“The Beguiled” Sofia Coppola directs the remake of the Clint Eastwood Civil War story about an injured soldier (Colin Farrell) taken in by a girls’ school, this time with more of the women’s perspective, starring Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, and Kirsten Dunst.

“The Big Sick” This indie film based on the true story of the courtship of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, complicated by her illness, has been a festival hit.

“Transformers: The Last Knight” Like “Fate of the Furious,” this is a series entry that has the leader “going rogue.”

June 28

“Baby Driver” Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, and Lily James star in what looks like a musical version of “Drive,” from writer/director Edgar Wright, who always has his own twist on genres.

June 30

“Despicable Me 3” Gru, Lucy, and the girls are back, and this time they meet up with Gru’s long-lost brother (also played by Steve Carell) and a new bad guy who is stuck in the 1980’s.

“The House” Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler play a married couple who need money for their daughter’s college tuition. So of course they turn their home into an illegal gambling den.

July 7

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” Tom Holland’s winning but brief appearance in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” has fans looking forward to his first starring appearance as Spidey.

July 14

“War for Planet of the Apes” Any hope for peace is gone as the apes are stronger and more effective and the humans are less trustworthy.

July 21

“Dunkirk” One of WWII’s most intense operations was the rescue at Dunkirk, and this film from Christopher Nolan shows us how it happened, with an all-star cast that includes Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, Jack Reynor, Cillian Murphy, and Mark Rylance.

Copyright Universal 2017
Copyright Universal 2017

“Girls Trip” The second Girls Gone Wild films of the summer stars Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith as old friends who take a journey to the Essence Festival.

“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” Luc Besson’s dream project is the comic book series that helped inspire the look of “Star Wars.”

July 28

“Atomic Blonde” Charlize Theron plays the title character in a stylish spy thriller with non-stop action.

“The Emoji Movie” Yes, it’s a movie about emojis, with Patrick Stewart providing the voice for the poop emoji.

“An Inconvenient Sequel” The follow-up to Al Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary about climate change has some good news along with more inconvenient bad news.

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