In the wake of the noisy misfire that was 2011’s Cars 2, the Pixar pit crew ran the diagnostics and were able to pinpoint the winning formula of humor, heart and action (along with an added dose of Route 66-informed nostalgia) that made the 2006 original such a sweet ride.
Given the enduring good will generated by the first installment, the franchise, which has to date grossed well over $1 billion and sold countless billions more in four-wheeled merchandise, should expect similarly strong, school’s-out business, even with the picture’s less-than-zippy performance.
Taking the wheel from John Lasseter, who directed the first two films, Brian Fee, who served as a storyboard artist on both, opts for a leisurely, unhurried approach to the pacing, which, while agreeably allowing emphasis on character over action, occasionally gets stuck in neutral.
As in the first film, the themes of youth vs.
heritage once again play a prominent role in the script, credited to Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson and Mike Rich, which does a nice job retaining the warmly regarded original characters (although in much smaller roles) while introducing engaging new ones — most notably Alonzo’s spunky Cruz.