With over twenty years of feature filmmaking under their belts, the animators at Pixar have since established a kind of rhythm with their projects. While they continue to churn out new ideas and creating worlds, the Disney powerhouse also has enough established IPs they can mine.
Their latest film returns to the universe of anthropomorphic motor vehicles with Cars 3.
After the second film in the series seemed to deviate with a slapstick adventure focusing on Mater's journey into the world of super spies, Cars 3 course corrects and gets back to the heart of what made the original series so great.
PopCulture.com's Meredith Placko spoke with director Brian Fee and producer Kevin Reher, who detailed the reasoning behind getting back to Lightning McQueen's journey.
Fee called it "a story of generations and parents."
"That's emotionally how I always connected to the story, was the relationship he had with Doc, and Doc's not with [Lightning] anymore," Fee said. "So, I look at the situation that he's in. The young kids coming up, nipping at his heels, and him having to deal with his retirement, as really just a way to tell the story. But the real, for me, the emotional story is the transition of life. And thinking that the best part of your life is behind you, and happening to realize that the actual best part of life is still ahead of you."
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Reher revealed how a certain real-life NASCAR driver affected the trajectory of their original plot for the movie.
"We also started with a sports mentor story, a sports story, a sports comeback story," Reher said. "And where would our character be ten years after Cars 1. And you know, we met with Jeff Gordon who sorta said, "Wow, this is like my story." Cuz at the time, two years ago, he was starting to retire, So we were inspired by the aging of the athlete, and then it became something different."
In Cars 3, Lightning McQueen comes into contact with Cruz Ramirez, and ends up becoming a mentor to her like Doc was for him. It brings the arc of the film full circle, and truly feels like a true sequel to the Cars franchise.
Cars 3 is in theaters now.
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